Courtesy: Nazareth Athletics
Junior Andrew Vogler netted the winning penalty kick and sophomore Trevor Clark made two big saves for top-seeded Nazareth Wednesday as the Golden Flyers advanced past St. John Fisher in penalty kicks, 4-2, in the semifinals of the Empire 8 Conference Tournament for men’s soccer.
The game officially ended in a 1-1 tie, with Nazareth advancing to Saturday’s championship game where the top-seeded Golden Flyers (12-1-3) will host second-seeded Houghton.
With the teams tied through 110 minutes of soccer, including two 10-minute overtimes, penalty kicks were needed to determine advancement. In the best-of-five session, Nazareth got goals from Cooper LaValley, Drew Decker, Michael Yates and Vogler. Fisher got goals from Riley Rease and Matt Gentile. Clark, meanwhile, was inserted into the lineup for the penalty kick session and produced a pair of huge saves.
After LaValley scored on Nazareth’s first attempt, Clark dove to his right to save a bid by Fisher’s Justin Bonetto. Decker scored on Nazareth’s third attempt for a 2-1 advantage, then Clark made a second diving save, this one to his left, on an attempt by Jeff Meyers. Yates’ goal gave Nazareth a 3-1 advantage, then Matt Gentile scored for the Cardinals. Vogler then hit the clincher for Nazareth on a left-footed blast into the upper left corner.
In the regulation, Nazareth scored in the 10th minute as LaValley converted his 10th goal of the season with Decker collecting his school-record 13th assist following a cross from the left wing. In the second half, Nazareth tried to hang on to the lead, but Fisher forced overtime on a goal by Rease with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.
On Saturday, Nazareth will shoot for its fifth Empire 8 title in men’s soccer and second in the last three years. Saturday’s winner also gains an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.