New England Soccer Today

Elm City En Route to NPSL Final

Photo credit: Elm City Express

Elm City Express is headed to the NPSL Championship Final after beating CD Aguiluchos USA 2-0 before a crowd of 2,261 in Saturday’s semifinal at Yale University’s Reese Stadium in New Haven, Ct.

Graciano Brito broke it open inside of nine minutes while Shaquille Saunchez widened the margin in the 45th minute. Matt Jones made a collection of strong saves to help the Express punch their ticket to the final.

Elm City will host the final on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Reese Stadium against Midland Odessa FC (Tex.). The Express are the first Connecticut club to reach a national final since Bridgeport’s Vasco da Gama reached the U.S. Open Cup final in 1992.

Interestingly, it was Aguiluchos (Oakland, Ca.) who started the match on the front foot as Jones was tested early. Inside of four minutes, Simon Rawnsley broke through the box and drilled a low drive that the Express keeper punched away inside of four minutes. Jones answered the call again moments later when he turned away another Rawnsley shot at the far post.

But the guests were unable to capitalize, and the hosts would make them pay in the ninth minute. In the process of pestering the defense, Brito pounced on a botched back pass deep in the Aguiluchos’ end, stepped on the gas and buried it to turn the tables.

Elm City kept the pressure on as the half progressed. To wit, Aguiluchos keeper Kevin Gonzalez was called upon to put out a fire in the 32nd minute when he stonewalled a breakaway attempt authored by Saunchez before the rebound fell outside the box, where Gonzalez had to quickly dribble it back into the box to corral.

However, Saunchez would not be denied in the dying seconds of the first half when he latched onto a pass from Cris Hernandez and fired it through to send Elm City into the break with a two-goal lead.

Tavoy Morgan made a bid to make it a three-goal game in the 47th minute when he tested Gonzalez with a low drive that the keeper pushed away on the dive. Hernandez gave it a go from distance on a left-footed blast that a spry Gonzalez dismantled in the 51st minute.

Lucas Gabriel Sousa blasted a shot off the bar in the 73rd minute, but a third goal wouldn’t be necessary as the Express clinched their spot in the final not long after.

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