The Elm City Express of New Haven, Conn. claimed the 2017 NPSL Championship over the weekend with a 5-0 rout of Midland-Odessa FC (Midland, Texas) at Yale University’s Reese Stadium. In the team’s inaugural season, Elm City rode a dominant run through the Regional and National Playoffs to take home the NPSL title. The Express are the 15th team to win the league in its 15 years of existence.
The final was played before a crowd of over 3,000 – Elm City’s biggest of the season – and the Express gave the New Haven faithful a satisfying conclusion to the team’s remarkable postseason run. Elm City allowed only one goal in its four playoff victories, finishing with a goal differential of plus-13. The Express dropped just one match of its full 17-game 2017 campaign.
“It’s massive for us…We talked about going on a run and doing something special,” Elm City head coach and 2017 NPSL Coach of the Year, Teddy Haley said. “It started with the ownership group and the management group doing it the right way from the beginning, putting together a collection of players that bought into what we wanted to do and the vision of it. The team worked really hard to get better every week and stay together, grow together.”
Tavoy “The Bull” Morgan opened up the scoring for the Express, evading four Midland-Odessa defenders on a run before slotting one in towards the far post. Morgan added another score just before halftime to put the Express up 2-0. The game-winning brace earned him Man of the Match honors, another accolade on the season that saw him named to the Northeast Region Best XI and the All-NPSL third team.
The rout was on late in the second half, as Elm City scored three goals in 15 minutes to close out the game. Quenton Swift one-timed a beautiful through ball in the 75th minute, Daniel Oliveira launched a rocket in the 80th, and Swift added one more in the 90th for the exclamation point on the victory.
The National Premier Soccer League was founded in 2003 and now includes over 90 teams across the entire country. The NPSL Championship marks the end of a banner year for the league, as 30 teams joined its ranks for 2017. Both of this season’s finalists were new additions to the NPSL, as Elm City completed its inaugural season and Midland-Odessa FC joined the league from the USL Premier Development League.