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Eagles fall hard in first WPSL match of 2021

An away side, without the team’s best 11, Columbus lost in a Sunday trip to Indianapolis

Excitement was high coming into the first match of the season for the Columbus Eagles. The team came off an indoor conference championship and brought back a strong core of Eagles. What resulted in their first outdoor match of the season was a lot of game tape to improve, after falling to Lady Victory FC to a scoreline of 6-0.

Lacking Possession

The first quarter of the match didn’t have a lot of Eagles possession. When Columbus did get the ball, poor passes resulted in turnover after turnover. The Eagles couldn’t hold the ball for more than 30 seconds of match time, resulting in only one shot on target in the first half. Lady Victory was the aggressor, but Columbus kept it level.

Goalkeeper Hannah Sargent came up with big saves, the first in the 15th minute. Lady Victory found a hole in the Eagles defense and Sargent made a diving save. And she didn’t stop there. Just four minutes later, a Lady Victory back heel pass freed up an attacker, but Sargent deflected the shot away.

The zeros on the scoreboard didn’t last for long, however with goals coming for the home side in the 25th and 27th minute. The remaining 20 minutes saw more saves and still limited possession by the black and gold-clad Eagles. No fouls were committed in a relatively clean first half and the first 45 minutes ended with the Eagles down two.

Any time Columbus got the ball, passes were either off target, not strong enough or in the path of a Lady Victory midfielder. The second half saw a small amount of improvement but didn’t stop the flood gates from opening.

Finding Improvements

Sargent made two saves in the first five minutes of the second half, but the Eagles also started to look better on the counter attack. Columbus started getting passes into the offensive third, but never found the final player to make an impact. There were no challenges for the Lady Victory goalkeeper. The closest was a 60th minute cross into the penalty box that went straight at the keeper.

Then, between the 60th and 63rd minute, Lady Victory put the match out of reach with three goals in quick succession. Heather MacNab, a winger for Lady Victory, had a second half hat trick. In the 61st minute, she made three moves that caused the Eagles defense to fall to the ground before curling in a beautiful shot into the top right-hand corner.

The 67th minute saw a substitution at goalkeeper for Columbus. The substitution was not based on the play of Sargent, who kept the scoreline at 5-0 when it very well could have been more. Youngster Emily Keck, not even 19 years old, came in to get minutes. Keck allowed one more goal, but also make the save of the night.

Columbus’ center back pairing of Morgan Wilcoxon and Monique Reventlow faced immense challenges throughout the night from Lady Victory. The final 10 minutes saw the two each make big tackles, with Reventlow even going in for a tackle in the penalty box successfully.

In the 89th minute, Lady Victory got through the center backs after a slip in the penalty area and Keck had a full stretch to save a close attempt. It was a show of quick reflexes and skill.

What’s next?

The Eagles have a lot they can work on before their next match. Away contests are always difficult in the WPSL because the entire team can’t travel, especially for a night game at the end of the weekend. Expect to see a different side, one closer to the team’s best 11, next weekend.

Columbus welcomes the Cincinnati Sirens next Sunday, at 2 p.m. ET. Grove City Christian High School will host the match and up to 500 supporters can buy tickets. After the rivalry match, Capital University will host all home contests.