Elmira boys win against Binghamton and wait as they pursue STAC West soccer title
Andrew Legare, Elmira Star-Gazette
Noah Sperduto continued his brilliant junior season with three goals Thursday afternoon as the Elmira boys soccer team put itself on the doorstep of the Southern Tier Athletic Conference West Division title with a 4-1 home win over Binghamton at Ernie Davis Academy.
The Express finished the regular season 9-2-3 overall and 8-2-3 in STAC play, giving them a conference point total of 27 (three for a win, one for a tie). For Elmira not to win the division, Horseheads (5-2-3) would have to win its three remaining regular-season games and beat the Express in a tiebreaker.
Here are some key points from this game:
Elmira now waits
The Express could clinch the division title as soon as Friday if Horseheads doesn't beat Corning in their 4:30 p.m. game at Horseheads High School. The contest was originally scheduled for Thursday before rain and field conditions caused it to be postponed. Horseheads has another makeup at 7 p.m. Saturday at Binghamton before hosting Maine-Endwell on Oct. 9.
If you're Elmira, it's a tricky situation.
"You want to go and watch these games, but it’s hard to cheer against teams because you’re friends with coaches and players," Elmira coach Derek Hamilton said. "We’ll be certainly hoping for a result that will be in our favor."
Express rebounds after loss
Elmira, ranked as high as No. 3 in Class AA at one point by the New York State Sportswriters Association. ended a three-game winless streak that included a scoreless tie against Horseheads and losses to Maine-Endwell and Ithaca. Elmira fell at Ithaca, 3-0, on Wednesday night after that game was pushed back a day because of rain.
"You always want to end (the regular season) on a winning note, especially going into bigger games in the postseason," Hamilton said. "Not just scoring four goals. That’s nice, but playing well I think is the more important thing at this point. You can play well and win 1-0 and I’m still content with it. Just beginning to get our momentum back and our mojo back is big for us I think."
Sperduto, Baldwin lead scoring
Sperduto scored twice in the first half and used his dribbling skill to notch the only goal of the second half to reach 20 goals this season. That follows a sophomore year in which he scored 17 times and earned fourth-team all-state honors.
Baldwin gave Elmira a 3-1 advantage with a 28-yard blast into the left side of the net with 7:19 to go in the first half. Baldwin assisted on two of Sperduto's goals, with the other Elmira assist coming from Kytrell Stroman.
"For the last week and a half we haven’t been at our best, that’s for sure," Hamilton said. "It helps a little bit getting some injuries recovered, getting Luke Baldwin back in the midfield. We created a lot more opportunities today and I hope we continue to do that going forward."
Top seed clinched
Hamilton said Thursday's victory clinched the top seed for the Section 4 Class AA tournament. Elmira will be home for a semifinal at a future date. Ithaca, Corning and Horseheads have also clinched AA playoff spots, with their seeds still up in the air.
At halftime, Elmira recognized the five seniors on the team with a ceremony. Along with Baldwin, the other seniors are Jake Daubner, Landon Erickson, Jacob Mawhir and Evan Moore.
Patriots struck early
Binghamton had the early momentum Thursday when Liam Charles scored off an assist from Luka Rizzuto. Sperduto answered with back-to-back goals, giving Elmira a 2-1 advantage with 26:41 left in the first half.
The Patriots fell to 4-9.
Follow Andrew Legare on Twitter @SGAndrewLegare.