The purpose behind the Columbus Eagles is to give athletes the opportunity to play competitive soccer, and CEO and interim head coach Mark Wise has done just that over the past three weeks. Every weekend has featured a Saturday and Sunday match, travel and rotating rosters.
It’s safe to say that there haven’t been many restful June weekends for the Eagles and this past weekend was no exception. While it started with a tough 4-0 loss to FC Pride, the Eagles finished this stretch of matches with their first home win of the season, a 4-2 victory against Fire & Ice SC.
Saturday, Columbus played FC Pride, who earlier in the WPSL campaign left Columbus with a 2-1 victory against the Eagles. The matchup wasn’t available to stream, but Massive Report spoke with Wise about the matchup.
Columbus had a light roster for the day trip with only 13 players available, and within those were a couple of injuries. Like in the 6-0 loss to Fire & Ice SC in the Eagles’ trip to St. Louis, the chemistry was also difficult to come by.
The Eagles went down early, going into halftime with a 3-0 deficit. Columbus improved in the second half, allowing only one goal, but it wasn’t enough to get on the board or take any point from the matchup.
Sunday, the Eagles did two things they haven’t done in the 2021 WPSL season: come from a 2-0 deficit and win a match at home.
Fire & Ice SC traveled to town as part of a doubleheader of their own, coming off a 2-1 victory against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday. Columbus carried a league maximum 20 players into Bernlohr Stadium on Sunday and the team’s transition from a lack of depth paid off.
Forward Madison Costner almost got the Eagles up early. Off a second-minute throw-in, Costner allowed the ball to bounce in front of her and over her head. After a quick spin around the defense, the forward had a clear shot on goal but at a difficult angle. The shot went high, but it was a sign of things to come. But not before Fire & Ice SC made it difficult.
In the 11th minute, Fire & Ice forward MacKenzie Litzsinger made a heads-up play to put the away team in front. The Eagles were pressured into a pass back to defender Michaela Powers. On receiving the ball, it bounced too far out in front of Powers, who met the pass in the neutral midfield. Litzsinger intercepted the bounce and dribbled almost half the length of the field before scoring a goal just inside the far post.
Even down a goal, Columbus looked like the better side. All the fresh legs made it difficult for a Fire & Ice SC side who looked tired on the second game of their Ohio road trip. The visitor’s chances were limited, but they made the most of what they received.
Fire & Ice SC midfielder Sarah Foley put the St. Louis-based club up two with 10 minutes left in the first half. Off a throw-in, near the corner flag, Foley took a pass, dribbled parallel to the 18-yard-box and sent in a shot that goalkeeper Hannah Sargent had no chance of stopping. It was a piece of individual skill that was the highlight of the match for the visitors. After the goal, something clicked within the Eagles who didn’t go into halftime down 0-2. They went in with a 3-2 lead.
Forward Jordan Fike got the scoring going for Columbus in the 36th minute. Midfielder Donovan Wahl intercepted a Fire & Ice goalkeeper clearance and quickly turned found winger Abby Townsend on the right sideline. After only a few dribbles, Townsend sent in a dangerous cross inside the penalty box that Fike put into the back of the net.
Wahl went from defender and play-starter to finisher just five minutes later. An Eagles midfield free kick sent a dangerous Ashley Gogolin cross into the 18-yard box. The initial ball was deflected to the top of the box where Wahl was there to meet it. She put power behind the shot and it caromed through the penalty area and put Columbus level with five minutes remaining in the half.
In the 44th minute, the Eagles scored the game-winning goal in a play like the first. Instead of a goalkeeper clearance, it was a tackle in the offensive third for Columbus. The Eagles passed again to the right sideline where fullback Marike Mousset sent in a cross. The pass into the area hit off a Columbus attacker and onto the feet of Alicia Donley who sent in a shot without hesitation for the game-winning goal.
The second half saw a lot more chances for Columbus. Fire & Ice withstood the pressure and kept the match close, until an errant clearance in the 89th minute. Fire & Ice attempted to volley an Eagles ball out of their offensive third about 20 yards outside of their penalty area. The ball went straight up and was met by Columbus. Townsend gained possession for the Eagles and dribbled into the penalty area with Fire & Ice following closely behind.
Before a shot could go off, Townsend was tripped for an Eagles penalty. Powers had no doubts behind her ability to finish and sent it into the top corner for the fourth and final Eagles goal. Columbus’ victory featured the most goals the team has scored in a WPSL match in 2021, with each coming from a different eagle.
The Eagles has time off now until their final WPSL conference match. The Eagles welcome the Dayton Dutch Lions to Capital University on July 11 at 3 p.m. ET.