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Liverpool athletes earn gold at Empire Games

From the soccer field to the track, athletes from Liverpool raked in medals during the 31st edition of the Empire State Games.

In more than two dozen sports spread out through Binghamton and the Southern Tier, thousands of competitors from six geographic regions (Central, Western, Adirondack, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island) did battle. Here is how the local athletes fared.

Soccer

On a team coached by one-time Liverpool star Brian McGrane and featuring Domenico Vitale, Central's open men took home the gold medal at SUNY-Binghamton.

Central beat Western 4-1 and took out Hudson Valley 3-1 before finishing with a pair of shutouts -- 1-0 over Long Island and, in the championship game, 2-0 over New York City.

Meanwhile, Allesio Vitale played on a Central scholastic men's team that lost 2-1 to New York City in the bronze-medal game, despite Vitale notching Central's lone goal. Christina Ippolito, Danielle Gannon and Robin Verschneider played with the Central open women's team that could not register a victory in three tries.

Ice Hockey

Joey Wilson brought a gold medal home as Central's scholastic men's team (coached by another Liverpool native, Steve Cibelli) broke Western's long hold on the ESG crown at Broome County Community College.

After a 4-2 win over Long Island, Central got an assist from Wilson in a 4-0 win over Adirondack. A 2-1 win over Hudson Valley followed, and Wilson returned for an assist as Central topped New York City 4-1 and clinched the gold Saturday night.

But Wilson saved his best stuff for Sunday afternoon. With Central down 2-1 to Western, Wilson tied it on a goal with 12:25 left, then assisted on Mike Montagna's winning tally with 12 seconds left as, by a 3-2 margin, Central completed its perfect run.

Central's scholastic women, with Kathleen Conese on the roster again, managed just one tie in five games at Broome County Arena.

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