It took longer than they wanted, but Columbus Eagles FC braved two weather delays to beat Empire Revs 4-0 on Saturday night. Kelly DeNiro, Ellie Gavin, Ashley Gogolin, and Larissa Najjar all scored their first goals of the season for Columbus. The Eagles improve to 3-1-2 in the WPSL and gained ground on the Valley division leaders.
Kickoff was delayed by 30 minutes at the start of the match and another half hour at halftime due to lightning being seen in the area. The match was then called complete after 70:22, when both teams and the officials agreed to halt play with more severe weather incoming.
The Eagles came out flying in the first half after the first weather delay, peppering the Empire net with shot after shot. After more than 20 minutes, though, Columbus hadn’t found the net. That is, until Micaela Powers played a great play-switching ball to Samantha Damante, who lifted a perfect cross to DeNiro, whose free header sent the crowd into a frenzy in the 23rd minute.
Ten minutes later, with the Eagles having settled into the match, Ellie Gavin got free down the middle of the Empire defense and poked home a beautiful finish for her first WPSL goal as an Eagle. Gavin and Damante played exceptionally well and saw extended minutes for Columbus on Saturday.
The Eagles put the match away early in the second half (after the second weather delay). DeNiro’s 47th-minute corner found the head of Gogolin, who scored her first goal for CEFC and her first competitive goal in over six years, dating back to her time at Wright State University. Less than three minutes later, Larissa Najjar found space on the edge of the Empire box and chipped a shot over goalkeeper Madi Flores to make it 4-0.
The four goals ties a club-high for a WPSL match, matching the team’s 4-2 win over Cincinnati at MAPFRE Stadium last June. Saturday’s win is the club’s third WPSL win of the season, matching 2017 for the most all-time in a single season.Â
Columbus now has a club-record 11 points in the WPSL with two matches remaining. Elsewhere in the Valley division, Motor City FC and FC Pride drew 2-2 in Indiana. That means the Eagles gained two points on the division leaders Motor City and Cleveland Ambassadors, who beat Steel City FC 3-2 on Friday night. Both Cleveland and Motor City have 13 points, and the Eagles sit third in the division with 11.
The Eagles welcomed their largest crowd of the season on “Save The Crew” night, in support of the movement to keep Columbus Crew SC in central Ohio. All 20 rostered Eagles players wore STC-themed warmup t-shirts, which were then raffled off at halftime of the match. The crowd was vocal and great for the full match, even after the weather delays.
Columbus takes a week off before returning to action June 30 at Otterbein University against Indy Saints FC. Kickoff for that Saturday’s match is scheduled for 2 p.m. and tickets are on sale now. The match is the home finale for the Eagles. The club wraps up WPSL regular season play at Steel City FC of Pittsburgh on July 8.