On Saturday AFC Columbia played their first game of the 2023 WPSL season on the road against Sunflower State FC. Sunflower took the contest 5-0 on the back of two goals from Mackenzie Dimarco.
“We brought the intensity. Coming off the loss, we really brought it today. We used all twenty girls we had, and it [Playing Time] was equal across the line. Absolutely amazing,” Sunflower assistant coach Kayla Wyrsch said.
Sunflower started the game off hot, not ready to give up another loss. Sunflower had two shots on goal in the first two minutes.
AFC Columbia were without several of their starters for this game and that played out in possession percentage in the game.
10’ Sunflower’s first goal came off of a corner kick that was played short by Emily Carrasco. She had the ball returned to her before crossing it into Cali Schechinger for Sunflower’s first goal.
14’ Jaylie Hicklin would pass the ball up to striker Dimarco. Columbia goalkeeper April Mason made a play for the ball but fumbled. Dimarco then charged her way through Mason and scored the second Sunflower goal.
Columbia held steady for 15 minutes, even finally getting some offense of their own in. But Sunflower would find themselves driving up the field again. Defender Bela Leon found herself with the ball and buried it to the back of the net in the 29th minute.
Halftime Sunflower 3, Columbia 0.
The second half started off less intense. Sunflower put the game into cruise control. However, that didn’t stop the home squad from finding a couple more goals.
58’ Dimarco found herself with the ball just past half-field. She dribbled through the Columbia defense with blazing speed and nutmegged second half AFC keeper Sofia Elfrink on the way to her second.
82’ Molly Ricker would cross the ball from the left side. The pass was intended for Tata Teixeira, but it got past her to Jaylie Hicklin. Hicklin took the shot and scored the fifth and final goal. Sunflower replacement keeper Pillar Gutierez kept the sheet clean.
Sunflower won 5-0.
“I think a lot of the growth that we've had, you know, this is our first club game on the women's side and so there was a lot to take away from; learning opportunities,” Columbia’s head coach Kurtis Beardsen said, “Obviously, first time you step on the field, you don't want to have a result go that way. We had little mistakes that we know that we need to clean up, which I think led to a number of the goals. But overall, I think there's a lot of growth. We matured a lot defensively and in shape. And, you know, we're missing a handful of key players today that I think are gonna come back on our next match for Thursday and we're going to be in better shape.”
One of the biggest factors in this game was bench depth. Sunflower was working with a full nine-woman bench. As for Columbia the bench was only four deep.
“It's crazy, how much [a shallow bench] plays into it, you know, when you look down the line, and they can bring in five, six, seven subs at a time and we've got just a couple going in and out over the course of 90 minutes,” Beardsen said, “Most of our women can probably play that distance. It's a lot to ask them when they're getting fresh legs on them every once in a while.”
Next up on Sunflower State’s schedule is a rematch on the road against the Kansas City Courage on May 31. For AFC Columbia, next is their home opener against St Louis Scott Gallagher on May 25.