Rapids vs. Gladiators Preview
By: Alex Husting
On Monday, January 17, the Columbus Rapids and Rome Gladiators will meet on the pitch for the first time ever. Both teams were scheduled for games on Sunday, with the Rapids traveling to Fayetteville and the Gladiators traveling to Memphis, but those matches were postponed. The Gladiators have only played in two matches, with the women’s team splitting the matches and the men’s team losing both.
The Gladiators Women’s team opened the season with a 4-5 loss against the Memphis Americans. Despite the loss, Carlie Banks was a bright spot for Rome, scoring all four of the Gladiators' goals. The following week, Carlie and the Gladiators traveled to Fayetteville to take on the Fury.
Banks continued to dominate, getting her second consecutive hat trick with three goals against the Fury. Along with her efforts, the rest of the Gladiator attack showed up, scoring 11 times in a big 11-2 victory over the Fury. Allisson Wetherington, Callie O’Connor and Loren Mitchell each scored twice and goalkeeper Melissa Hutto had four saves and only two goals allowed.
The Gladiators Women’s team will try and find the same offensive success against a Rapids defense that struggled in the season opener, giving up 10 goals, but have since turned it around, allowing only 11 total goals over the last three contests. The Rapids will need to make this game a defensive battle and try to limit the scoring opportunities for Banks.
The Gladiators Men’s team is coming to Columbus on a two-game losing streak. They fell in the season opener against Memphis 3-6 and lost in overtime against Fayetteville 4-5. The Gladiators Men’s team has not yet found a leader on the offense, and each of their seven goals have been scored by a different player. This multifaceted attack can create problems for a Rapids defense that will not be able to focus on one player.
On the defensive side, the Gladiators have struggled to prevent teams from attempting shots early and often, with 30 shots against their goalkeeper so far this season. Despite this, Rome goalkeeper Agustin Garcia has been up to the challenge, with 21 total saves and 70% save percentage, which is third in the league despite having the most shots against in the NISL.
Garcia could be a problem for the Rapids, a team that, until last week’s close loss to Memphis, only scored one goal in the first three games of the season. The Rapids will look to continue the progress of last weekend this Monday when they take on the Gladiators.
Fans unable to attend the game can watch the broadcast live on the NISL Youtube channel.