The Rapids split home series with the Gladiators
By: Alex Husting
The Rapids Men (4-8) are back in the win column after a dominant second quarter propelled them to an 8-5 victory over the Rome Gladiators (0-6). The Rapids Women (4-8) have now lost three-straight after giving up a 2-0 lead to fall to the Gladiators(6-1) 6-5.
The Rapids Men were on the pitch first for the 6 p.m. EST kickoff with Rome. The Rapids came in as winners of two-straight against the Gladiators, and looking to get back on track after a tough loss last week against Fayetteville.
The Rapids Men set a season-high for goals in a match as they defeated the Gladiators for the third-straight time. Columbus was led by a trio of scorers in Ethan Alur, Manny Chavez and Brandon Cervantes who each found the back of the net twice in the big win tonight.
Cervantes and Alur are the top goal-scorers for the Rapids with six and five respectively, and Cervantes leads the team in points due to his five assists this season. Osvaldo Valencia and Stephen McIntosh also got involved with one goal each.
On the defensive end Freddy Zamudio handled goalkeeping duties for the entirety of the match, finishing with 15 saves and five goals allowed on 20 shots against. He held Rome to just three goals through the first three quarters of the match before allowing two in the fourth quarter, including one when the game was already out of reach.
Rome was on the attack most of the match, with 26 shots in comparison to Columbus’ 19, but the Gladiators could not take advantage of the scoring opportunities. Each of Rome’s five goals were scored by a different player. Jaun Rotjes scored first for Rome which tied the game in the first quarter Rigo Villanueva tied things up again in the second quarter.
The Rapids responded to that with three unanswered goals to end the half, taking a 5-2 lead into the locker room. Oscar Huerta opened the second half with a goal for Rome but the Rapids rallied again with two-straight goals to push the lead to four.
Miqui Perez guarded the net for the Gladiators and he struggled against the attack of the Rapids. Perez allowed eight goals on 13 total shots, finished the match with just five saves and an overall save percentage of 38.5%.
For the Gladiators Men, they will go back to the drawing board as they look for their first win of the season. They have ten days to practice and prepare before they travel to Fayetteville on March 13 to take on the top team in the NISL Men’s Division, the Fury.
The Rapids Men started the season with four-straight losses but have since won four of their last eight, including three of their last five. They have a quick turn around with a Saturday, March 5 road matchup with the Memphis Americans on the horizon.
The Rapids Women team entered the Columbus Civic Center tonight hoping to end their two-match losing streak and get back on track as the playoff race heats up. They started the match right, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, but Rome (5-1) rallied with five goals in the next two quarters and held on for the comeback victory.
This is the Rapids third straight loss to the Gladiators and they fall to 4-8, with three straight losses overall. Olivia Jarell and Brittney Conway once again led the way for the Rapids that started the match well.
Conway was the first Columbus player to find the back of the net, giving the Rapids an early lead, and she finished the match with two goals and one assist, putting her third on the team in goals. Her goal midway through the third quarter tied the match up again at 4-4.
That is when Loren Mitchell got involved in the Gladiators offense, scoring the go-ahead goal in the third quarter and then another in the fourth to seal the victory for Rome. Mitchel is now second on the team in goals with four, behind NISL leading goal scorer Carlie Banks.
Banks was a key factor in tonight’s win for Rome, tying the match with 29 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Gladiators all of the momentum as they went to the locker room.
The second and third quarters were crucial for Rome, who outshot the Rapids 22-6 during that stretch. Overall, the Gladiators took 33 shots throughout the match, more than double the Rapids’ 16 total shots.
Bria Riancho was in goal for the entire match and held her own against a ferocious Rome offense. Riancho saved 21 shots and allowed six goals on 27 total shots, giving her a 77.8% save percentage.
The Gladiators have run a two-keeper system nearly all season and they did again tonight in Columbus. Brooke Best and Melissa Hutto combined for nine saves and five goals allowed on 14 shots against.
The Rapids Women will now look ahead to their upcoming match with the Memphis Americans, the last team they beat, in order to end their three-match. skid
ABOUT NATIONAL INDOOR SOCCER LEAGUE (NISL):
The National Indoor Soccer League, which has its league office in Georgia, was founded in January 2021 by a group of experienced sports team/league owners with over 40 years of ownership experience. The NISL has plans to grow the league nationally within the next three years and will kick off its inaugural season in December 2021. The league will operate a Men's & Women's division with each market fielding both teams. Fans will be able to watch a men’s and women’s game each gameday. For more information, go to nislpro.com.