City slips up in NHC opener, falls to Squaws
Lady Eagle forward Sarah Opliger battles for a ball with Bellmontâ€™s Brittany Thatcher in the first half of the Northeast Corner Conference opener Thursday for Columbia City.
COLUMBIA CITY — This was not the way the Columbia City Lady Eagle soccer squad wanted to open up Northeast Hoosier Conference competition.
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Following a closely played first half, the Bellmont Squaws parlayed a goal off a free kick into three second half scores to hand the Lady Eagles a 3-0 defeat in Thursday night’s contest at the Max Gandy Athletic Field.
The first half matched Columbia City’s ball handling and passing against Bellmont’s physically aggressive play. The two teams played back and forth with the first half ending in a scoreless tie.
The aggressive played stepped up in the second half and the game shifted to the Columbia City end of the field for much of the first part of the half.
“I think we were aggressive in the first half,” said Columbia City head coach Nicole Gebfert. “We were winning almost every free ball. I think we may have started the aggression, but they came out in the second half and put it on us harder. Our girls needed to adjust to the fact that they were going to push us off the ball and as a result we weren’t able to get into our finesse game in the second half.”
The Squaws broke the ice and shifted the momentum to their side after a Columbia City defender was knocked to the ground and was called for a dangerous play call awarding Bellmont a free-kick from about 25 yards out.
The Squaws’ Jessica Brewer took the kick, beating Columbia City keeper, Corinna Raypole to the far post, giving Bellmont a 1-0 lead with 20:10 left in the contest.
The Eagles brought up their forwards in an attempt to put more pressure on the Bellmont goal, but the Squaws collapsed on the ball blunting the Eagle attack.
“We noticed that whenever we got the ball into the middle they collapsed with three players,” Gebfert noted. “Our heads went down and no one was talking and we just weren’t moving.”
Brewer picked up her second goal when she turned on a ball in front of the Columbia City goal that went through the keeper’s hands with 12:23 left to put the Braves up 2-0.
The Squaws added a final score with just 27 seconds left on a long crossing pass to account for the final 3-0 score.
“It’s a tough loss no matter how you look at it, because we thought we were the better team out there,” Gebfert concluded.
The loss drops the Lady Eagles’ record to 2-2 and 0-1 in the Northeast Hoosier Conference
The Columbia City JV scored a first half goal at the 31:56 mark and then made it stand up to take a 1-0 win over the Bellmont JV.
The Lady Eagles return to action Tuesday when they host NHC power Homestead.