Eagles welcome Cincinnati Sirens to Columbus in PASL opener

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The Columbus Eagles will be back on the field for the first time in over a year since the team attended the Premier Arena Soccer League. This game may look different for fans of the beautiful game, but Massive Report has a list of a few Differences between indoor and outdoor soccer Regulate.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles are playing a different winter schedule and are entering the PASL for the first time. This is due to the fact that regular opponents of the college exhibition play their college season starting this spring.

This change is also changing the Eagles coach, as current team coach Matt Ogden also runs the Capital University women’s soccer team, making him unavailable this winter. Instead, Mark Wise, the club’s founder, CEO and first head coach, will sit on the bench. Ogden plans to return to the site for the team’s summer outdoor season.

On Saturday, Columbus welcomed division opponents, the Cincinnati Sirens, who won the Great Lakes Division in 2019-20 by a record 6-0-1 and 101 goals for nine. This is amazing given that the Chicago Mustangs scored the second highest goals at 40.

So far, the Sirens haven’t got off to such a hot start in 2021 and lost their first PASL game against Chicago 9-3.

Return of the roster

The field for the Eagles this weekend will be a mix of returning and new players, a division of five existing and six new squads.

Back in black and gold are midfielder Alivia Milesky, defender Monique Reventlow, strikers Madison Costner and Amberly Knox, and midfielder and team captain Ashley Gogolin. Milesky, Costner and Gogolin scored nine goals offensive in the WPSL last season, half of the team’s 18 goals.

The Eagles didn’t have a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so bringing back seasoned players for the PASL season is crucial to get the most newbies on the same page. The arena rules allow five field players and one goalkeeper so the Eagles can keep a large number of veterans on the field at the same time. This will go a long way towards integrating all new faces.

New players

One player who skewed the line between veteran and rookie is striker Donavan Wahl. She played on the first Eagles squad in 2014 before graduating from Kent State University. The former All-MAC first team selection will add to the goal attack after returning to the Eagles for the first time in seven years.

Another former NCAA Division I athlete will meet former Vanderbilt goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi. The Ohio native started 19 starts out of 21 games in her senior season. In a total of 2,606 minutes of college, Demarchi registered 80 savings and a savings percentage of 0.833.

In front of Demarchi stand defender Maggie Bunker and midfielders Susan D’Isidoro, Mellonee Hall and Deijah Swihart. D’Isidoro continues to play in Columbus with a black and gold move from Ohio Dominican to the Eagles. In four seasons at the local Division II school, she had 11 goals and 12 assists in 75 games played. She ended her college career as an All-GMAC second team pick.

Hall joins the Eagles after a season with the Dayton Dutch Lions. She previously served as a defense attorney at Wilmington College for four years. In her senior season, Hall was named second-team All-OAC selection, and rose from their third-team selection in 2017.

Swihart graduated from Ashland after a stellar career as a player. At the NCAA Division II school, Swihart was named GLIAC Freshmen of the Year in 2015, was All-GLIAC Perferin the first team in 2016 and finished her time with the Ashland as All-GLIAC of the second team. Swihart brings the Eagles 34 goals and 8 assists.

Lineup prediction

Chemistry will be hard to come by as there is no competition for the entire squad. Massive Report predicts there will be a strong veterans group starting Saturday. Defense is much more of a team initiative in arena football too, with smaller dimensions and fewer players on the pitch. So only expect one officially labeled defender on the field, likely Reventlow. Most of the team changes during the 60 minutes will take place in midfield.

This midfield has a strong balance between new and returning players. Expect at least two non-newbies in midfield with a new name. Gogolin, Milesky and Swihart wouldn’t be a surprise. In training, Swihart covers a large part of the field, obstructing shots and passing on defense in addition to her already established offensive skills. Costner should be up front, who increases the starting team to four veterans and two new Eagles.

The good thing is that there are unlimited substitutions in PASL. So expect the entire 11 players to be on the field at some point. Saturday is a great opportunity to set expectations for the remainder of the PASL season and the future WPSL summer schedule.

Columbus’ game against Sirens can be streamed for free on their team website. They start at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. Fans can also buy a virtual ticket to support the club. Sweepstakes take place throughout the game, with the Eagles and club sponsors winning prizes.