New England Soccer Today

History Awaits Elm City

Photo credit: Elm City Express

On Saturday, Elm City Express will attempt to become to achieve something that hasn’t been done by a Connecticut club in a generation: reach a national final.

The New Haven-based selection, who entered the 2017 season as fresh-faced outfit, stand only 90 minutes away from reaching the NPSL final with Saturday’s semifinal against Oakland, Ca.-based CD Aguiluchos USA on tap.

Fresh off of last weekend’s 3-1 win over Clarkstown SC Eagles in the regional final, the Express will look to continue their magical debut season against the Golden State Division winners, who’ll be flying cross-country for the semifinal at Yale University’s Reese Field.

Elm City, which has boasted multiple goal wins in each of their three postseason wins, will need playmaker Cris Hernandez and scorer Shaquille Saunchez to continue to steer the offense. Both played crucial roles in last week’s win, as Hernandez scored and assisted while Saunchez tallied the game-winner.

As good as the Express have looked, Aguiluchos could be the strongest foe the Nutmeg State selection has faced. In their last three matches, Aguiluchos has lit up the scoreboard for nine goals and posted clean sheets in two of them. To say that the California club has caught fire at the right time might be an understatement.

That said, the difference maker in Saturday’s match might be Express keeper Matt Jones, whose stellar performances are reminiscent of the form that earned him a starting spot with Portuguese Liga side Belenenses not long ago. With Jones in net, the Express allowed only six goals in 15 games this season.

The ultimate decider when it comes to lower-league play, though, is often home field advantage. The Express have never lost at home, with a record of 9-0-1 across all competitions.

With Saturday’s match sure to be a festive event for the home fans, the Express will no doubt hope to reward them by becoming the first Connecticut team since 1992 U.S. Open Cup finalist Vasco da Gama (Bridgeport, Ct.) to reach a national final.

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