Naz headed to E8 title game after routing Elmira

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Host Nazareth used a pair of second-half goals Wednesday to take a 2-0 men’s soccer victory over Elmira in an Empire 8 Conference playoff semifinal match at Golden Flyer Stadium.

The victory vaulted the Golden Flyers (13-2-3 overall) into Saturday’s conference championship game at 12 p.m.. Nazareth will host Alfred, a 1-0 overtime winner over Sage in the other semifinal. Elmira dropped to 9-7-3 overall. The Golden Flyers will be appearing in the championship match for the second year in a row and are seeking their first conference title since 2006.

In the second meeting between the two clubs in the last four days, Nazareth enjoyed the better of the play with a 19-8 edge in shots, including an 11-2 advantage in the first half. The Golden Flyers also generated 12 first-half corner kicks, but were unable to score as Elmira keeper Xavier Townsend made three saves.

Each team had scoring chances in the first 45 minutes. Elmira’s best opportunity of the game came in the 12th minute when a shot by Adam Nichols was headed away from the goal line by Nazareth defender Connor Mann. Nazareth had a chance in the 18th minute when a shot by Sam Smyth (Rush-Henrietta) was tipped off the the crossbar by Townsend. Also in the 33rd minute, a header by Justin Pumputis was redirected over the bar by Townsend.

In the second half, Nazareth finally broke through with a goal by senior Francesco Viavattene (McQuaid) in the 58th minute. He gathered in a cross from Jake Adams and his shot deflected off the hands of Townsend and trickled over the goal line.

Nazareth’s second goal came in the 79th minute after Smyth stole the ball from Elmira defender Tommaso Garavaglia in the Elmira end. That left him one on one with Townsend and he was able to slip a left-footed shot into the goal for the unassisted tally.

Nazareth keeper Brian Wilkin (Hilton) was credited with one save in gaining his sixth shutout of the season and 22nd of his career. Nazareth extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games (9-0-3) with their second 2-0 win over the Soaring Eagles in four days.

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