Eagles Finish WPSL Season With Win in Pittsburgh

Eagles' midfielder Kelly DeNiro scored her second goal of the 2018 season Sunday against Pittsburgh | Ralph Schudel
Eagles' midfielder Kelly DeNiro scored her second goal of the 2018 season Sunday against Pittsburgh | Ralph Schudel
Eagles’ midfielder Kelly DeNiro scored her second goal of the 2018 season Sunday against Pittsburgh | Ralph Schudel

And the records keep coming and coming and coming and coming…

Columbus Eagles FC scored two second-half goals to beat Steel City FC, 2-1, on Sunday evening in Pittsburgh, Pa. With the win, the Eagles clinch a second-place finish in the Valley division of the WPSL, leapfrogging Cincinnati Sirens FC and FC Pride to take the second spot. The Eagles also improve on records they’ve already set in 2018, for league wins (5) and points earned (17) in a single WPSL season.

Columbus (5-1-2) got goals from Samantha Damante and Kelly DeNiro en route to the win. Shockingly, Sunday’s win on the road was the club’s first 90-minute away victory in its history. Earlier this season, the Eagles won a road match when Cincinnati Sirens FC forfeited. Columbus finishes the 2018 WPSL season unbeaten away from home (2-0-2).

Damante becomes the 10th Eagle to score in 2018, joining DeNiro (2), Micaela Powers (2), Lisa Nouanesengsy (2), Ellie Gavin, Rian Reid, Larissa Najjar, Lila Remache, and Erin Brockway on the score sheet. Captain Amber Kern led the team with three goals for the WPSL season.

Video: Damante's Opening Goal

Sunday’s match was scoreless at the half after a fiesty, fairly even first 45 minutes. Right from the start of the second half, though, the Eagles were the better side. In the 47th minute, Columbus put together a beautiful attack of one-touch passes through the middle, then out wide to Dani Gunderson, who crossed it to Damante for a cool finish and her first goal as an Eagle. In the 61st minute, Powers intercepted a pass in the midfield and one-touched it to DeNiro, who caught the Pittsburgh keeper out of position and finished from long-distance to give Columbus a 2-0 lead.

Columbus’s scoreless streak of 261 minutes was broken in the 65th minute when Pittsburgh counter-attacked and scored, but the Eagles killed off the game in fantastic fashion, holding the ball up for the final 10-or-so minutes to ensure the victory. Pittsburgh had a player sent off in the 83rd minute for a foul on Hanna Marks when Marks was through on goal (the foul prevented a goal-scoring opportunity).

The Eagles held on against Steel City despite losing starting central defender Megan Minnix to a lower-body injury early in the first half. Najjar, Hadley Jones, and Powers all filled in at the back to help Monique Hanayik, who put in a strong performance for the full 90 minutes. Hannah Sargent kept a clean sheet through roughly 63 minutes before being replaced by Jenna Villacres. 

The Eagles ensured many season records would be set on Sunday. On top of the wins and points records being smashed, Columbus set records for goals scored (19) and fewest goals allowed (7) in a single WPSL season. The plus-12 goal differential is also a club record for a league season.

Cleveland Ambassadors clinched the Valley division title this past weekend and advance to the regional playoffs, which start July 13. The Eagles were the only team to take points from Cleveland this season, drawing the Ambassadors 3-3 in a wild contest in May. 

WPSL Match Recap:

Steel City FC 1; Columbus Eagles 2
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Ellis School – Pittsburgh, Pa.

47′ – Samantha Damante (1)
61′ – Kelly DeNiro (2)
65′ – (Steel City player to be determined)

83′ – Steel City (Red)

The Eagles wish to thank all their fans and supporters for joining us for such a special ride this season. We will be back on the field soon, and we have massive ambitions for the next months and years to come, so stay tuned for exciting news as the club continues to grow right here in Columbus. Thank you, Eagles fans!!

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