Rapids Sweep Rome in huge win before playoffs

By: Alex Husting

The Rapids Men(5-13) have won their first match since March 3, defeating the Gladiators Men in an overtime thriller 5-4. The Rapids Women (7-11) led from start-to-finish in a dominant 8-1 victory over the Gladiators Women. 

Match 1

The Rapids Men were on the pitch first, once again, looking to end their losing streak and get some momentum before the playoffs tomorrow. They were successful, coming back from down 3-1 to defeat the Gladiators Men 5-4 in overtime.

As the Rapids went on the attack in overtime, Akolade Gbadebo found the back of the net to seal the victory for Columbus. Sammy Valdivia took a shot and Gbadebo was there for the deflection, sending the Rapids faithful into a frenzy. 

Thomas Eskew was once again the leader on the attack, sending the match to overtime with a goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter. It was his second of the day, with the first coming in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to one goal and sparking the Rapids’ comeback.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Gladiators scored first behind the leg of Leonardo Stella, but the Rapids were right behind with Brandon Cervantes tying the match less than a minute later. 

Oscar Huerta and Kenny Taka scored back-to-back goals, with Taka scoring his within the first minute of the third quarter, giving Rome a 3-1 lead. 

After Eskew’s third quarter goal, Manny Chavez found the back of the net to tie the match at 3-3 with just 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

Juan Rotjes took back the lead for Rome with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter and then Eskew responded with the equalizer.

Miqui Perez finished the match with 14 saves and five goals allowed, giving him a save percentage of 73.7%.

Freddy Zamudio was back in goal for the Rapids tonight and he delivered, allowing one goal in the final 29 minutes of action. He finished the match with 4 goals allowed and 11 saves.

This was a crucial win for the Rapids Men as they head to the playoffs on Saturday in Fayetteville.

Match 2

The Rapids Women are winners of two straight after a dominant 8-1 victory over the Gladiators of Rome. After the overtime thriller on Thursday, Friday night’s match was a comfortable win for Columbus. 

Despite winning the shot battle by just one 25-24, the Rapids took advantage of the opportunities and shut down the Rome attack.

Olivia Jarrell and Erin Brady got the scoring started in the first quarter, and Columbus held a 2-0 lead. Maddy Peterson found the back of the net within the first two minutes of the second quarter to take a 3-0 lead.

Callie O’Connor stopped the bleeding for a moment, scoring the first and only goal of the night for the Gladiators and they went to the locker room down 3-1.

That was the closest the match got and the Rapids came out of halftime and went right on the attack with three goals scored in the third quarter. 

Maddie Defranco, Emily Burke and Brianna Conley all got on the board for the Rapids and Columbus led 6-1 at the end of the third quarter. 

Defranco and Conley did it again in the fourth quarter, tying as the team’s scoring leader for the night and winning the match 8-1.

Gabriela Saldana was the goalkeeper for Rome, finishing the match with eight goals allowed and seven saves, with a sub-50% save percentage of 46.7%.

Bria Riancho was the primary goalkeeper for the Rapids once again and she was a stalwart for Columbus, finishing the match with 14 saves and just one goal allowed. 

The playoffs are set and Columbus will travel to Fayetteville for the final time with hopes of making a championship run. 


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.