Courtesy: Nazareth Athletics
Top-seeded Nazareth put forth a dominant effort Thursday to advance past Hartwick in the semifinals of the Empire 8 Conference Tournament for women’s soccer. The Golden Flyers had three different goal scorers, plus a penalty kick save from goalkeeper Annika Monfort to take down the fourth-seeded Hawks, 3-0.
The victory enabled Nazareth to advance to Saturday’s conference championship game at 11 a.m. at Golden Flyer Stadium against Alfred. Nazareth improved to 9-6-3 with the victory.
Seniors Ashley Plane and Lauren Begy netted first-half goals to give a Golden Flyers a commanding lead. Junior Sarah Merriwether scored for the Golden Flyers in the second half, but that came after Monfort made a diving penalty kick save to keep the Hawks off the scoreboard.
Plane’s goal came in the 29th minute as she finished a short pass in the box from McKayla Hughes. Begy’s goal came six minutes later as she used her head to redirect a crossing pass from Merriwether.
Monfort’s big save came in the 52nd minute after Hartwick’s Hannah Bochniak was fouled in the penalty area. Hartwick’s Nicole Casab was selected to take the PK and Monfort guessed correctly in diving to her right to turn away the attempt and then covering the rebound.
In the 70th minute, Merriwether was able to seal the deal with her first goal of the season as she headed home a corner kick from the foot of Caleigh Cahoon.
Nazareth had significant advantages in shots (23-8) and corner kicks (8-0). Monfort finished with six saves for her eighth shutout.
Saturday’s game will mark Nazareth’s 14th appearance in the Empire 8 finals, more than any other team. The Golden Flyers will be seeking their 11th E8 title and their first since 2014. In addition, Nazareth will be trying for its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2016.