Olympians edge Cougars in soccer opener

BLOOMINGTON — Two first-half goals and some solid defensive play propelled the Columbus East girls soccer team to a 2-1 season-opening victory against Bloomington North on Wednesday.

Seniors Elisa Watkins and Brooklyn Taulman scored for the Olympians, while goalkeeper Bryn Eudy kept the Cougars scoreless in the second half to secure the win.

“It was a tough win,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “Bloomington North played a very good game. I thought our kids, initially, had some nerves, but I thought we settled down.”

Sixteen minutes into the contest, Watkins struck from long range, lofting a ball from the midfield off a Bloomington North defender’s head and into the goal, giving the Olympians a 1-0 lead.

“I knew I was going to flight it in near the goal,” Watkins said. “Their last defender just kind of headed it in, and their goalie wasn’t looking.”

The Cougars responded four minutes later when freshman Abby Cannon booted the ball past Eudy to tie the score. In a close game from start to finish, Eudy was OK with that being the lone blemish on her season’s résumé.

And so was her coach.

“Defensively, we played tough, and we really only had one mistake that resulted in the goal,” Schwartzman said. “Bryn had a phenomenal game.”

Playing in front of a defensive unit featuring only one senior, Ella Rohlfs, Eudy commanded the space between the goalposts and sometimes went beyond the call of duty. With the Olympians clinging to a 2-1 lead early in the second half, Eudy hustled to the top of the box to thwart a Bloomington North attack, sliding to meet a Cougar attacker at the ball.

“I saw the defensive play start to break down,” Eudy said. “Whenever that happens, it’s kind of on the goalie to fix that.”

The stop, which came nine minutes into the second half, set the tone for the remainder of the contest.

Eudy wasn’t the only one with a highlight play for the Olympians. With 10 minutes left in the first half, sophomore Addy Galarno launched a long cross to Taulman who finished with a left foot. The goal gave the Olympians the lead from which they never looked back.

“Hopefully, there will be many more (wins),” Watkins said. “We have a really small roster. So we’re hoping to keep conditioned and work well together.”