Rome Gladiators made their National Indoor Soccer League debut on Thursday when they traveled to Landers Center to face the Memphis Americans. They were making their first appearance in NISL just 20 days after being announced as the fourth member franchise. With a game under their belts, Memphis would walk away with both their men and women winning and improve to 2-0.
The women began the night playing a scoreless opening quarter before Tanya Crehan broke through early into the second. The advantage wouldn’t last long though as Carlie Banks make Lady Gladiators history scoring the first goal in franchise history less than a minute later.
Kelsey Keown gave Memphis back the lead later in the quarter, but Banks would score again before halftime to tie the game. Despite dominating time of possession and shots (18-7) the visitors found themselves even at the break 2-2.
Ashlynn Jones scored in the opening minute of the third helping the Americans retake the lead. Once again the Lady Gladiators would control much of the play in the quarter outshooting Memphis 13-4. Banks would complete the hat trick at 7:47, but the Americans Alexiss Catt answered just :27 later to retake the lead 4-3.
Trailing by a goal, Banks would once again find the back of the net at 8:20 making it 4-4. The former star forward at LSU (2009-12) has been a standout in the Women’s Premier Soccer League most recently with the Chattanooga Red Wolves.
With the game tied in the final minute Memphis took a free kick from top of the circle. Melissa Hutto stopped the initial shot but the ball was kept in the box before ending on the head of Kristen Sparks who popped the ball over the outstreched hands of Hutto.
Goalkeeper Angel Hailey was the star of the game making 19 saves for Memphis. She kept her team in the game while Rome outshot the Americans by a 37-16 margain.
The men’s game followed and it didn’t take long for Gladiators to make history of their own. Carlyle Junior opened scoring at 12:17 to secure his name in the franchise record book.
Memphis took a 2-1 lead in the second quarter before Juan Rotjes finished off the play of the night burying a perfect pass off the foot of Kevin Hererra.
Tied at 2-2 at halftime the Americans quickly took command in the third scoring a pair. Trace Ulstead would cut the lead to 4-3 at 6:50, but a penalty kick converted by Corey Adamson shortly after restored the two-goal advantage.
Each team would battle in the fourth with Mike Scharf scoring the lone goal making the final 6-3.