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2017 PDL roster: Two key starters headline talented defensive unit for Nor'easters

Daniel Nimmo and Fraser Colmer won team awards last year and will anchor the backline

The Ocean City Nor'easters are proud to announce the signing of 11 new defenders and goalkeepers, including a pair of key starters from last season.

First-year head coach John Thompson has constructed a roster of talented young players who will look to defender the club's Eastern Conference championship. There are six defenders on the 2017 roster, all of them representing six different countries. The five goalkeepers signed for 2017 are a talented group of Americans who will look to continue the Nor'easters' strong tradition of top-notch netminders.

DEFENDERS

The captain of the 2016 PDL Eastern Conference champions, Fraser Colmer (Southampton, England / Radford), returns after a fantastic year at Radford University. The Englishman who earned the "Nor'easter Award" from last PDL season, started in all 20 matches of the season for Radford, scoring three goals and adding an additional three assists. On the defensive side of the ball, he helped the team record 10 shutouts, including a 1-0 victory for the Big South Conference Tournament championship.

"Along with [Daniel] Nimmo, Fraser will be the team leader, after an outstanding 2016 season, even after he was forced to switch from his natural left back position to right back to cover a long term injury," said Nor’easters head coach John Thompson. "Needless to say he was as professional as ever and took it in stride. This season we want him getting forward more often and providing us with quality service into our strikers.”

Also returning to the backline is Ocean City's Young Player of the Year from last year, Scottish defender Daniel Nimmo (Linlithgow, Scotland / Campbellsville). Nimmo was a part of an impressive Campbellsville University defense that only allowed eight goals in 21 games during the 2016 season. He started in 20 games over the course of the campaign. His passion and desire on the pitch last summer in Ocean City will have everyone excited for his return this year.

“Danny is one of three players returning from last year’s team, he was a vocal leader for us last season as well as a leader of the field," said Thompson. "We will be looking for Daniel to organize and lead by example when the opponent has the ball. When we reviewed last year's squad Daniel was one of the players who we immediately identified as a player who personified what we want in Ocean City, someone passionate about keeping our club at the top and a lad who has tasted success, yet wants to take us further towards out ultimate goal of our first PDL championship."

The remaining players on the Nor’easters backline include four new additions from four different countries. The three international players include Serbia native Nikola Fimic (Novi Sad, Serbia / Oklahoma Wesleyan), Hungarian Daniel Kozma (Budapest, Hungary / Grand View), and Canadian Frantzly Zepharin (Montreal, Quebec / Midwest Nazarene) look to bolster the defense to an even better year this season.

Fimic enjoyed success in his freshman season at Oklahoma Wesleyan. He was part of a team that won 19 games and had only one loss and he was named to the NAIA All-American Third Team.

“Nikola is a smooth left-footed center back who is very composed on the ball, he will bring balance to the back line as a true lefty at center back which is a must," said Thompson. "He had a brilliant season for Oklahoma Wesleyan who, in my book, played the best passing football in the NAIA. For Nikola to be an All-American as a freshman speaks volumes about his quality.”

Zephirin, from Midwest Nazarene, was named the Heart of America Athletic Conference Defender of the Year during the 2016 season for his outstanding efforts over the course of 20 starts. He scored one goal and had an exceptional eight assists.

“Frantzly has had an interesting four years in college," said Thompson. "He was an All-American as a defender at Essex County, then the following year, the top scorer as a striker, and now a NAIA All-American as a right back. He has tremendous pace and loves getting into the final third, we expect him to be a threat from wide areas and to chip in with goals and assists.”

Kozma started in 21 out of the 23 games for Grand View University (Iowa) last season adding one goal while making it all the way to the NAIA national final.

“Daniel was one of the many standout players at the NAIA finals and impressed me with his composure, positioning and distribution from the back, he is a technical center back who wasn't phased by any challenge thrown at him," said Thompson.

The lone American defender on the roster is John Schroeder (Houston, TX / Delaware) who comes to Ocean City from the nearby University of Delaware. Schroeder started 20 games this year for the Blue Hens where he added two assists. Schroeder played last season with the PDL's South Florida Surf, and prior to that was part of the FC Florida team that reached the national championship game at the Under-19 level.

"John also plays as a marauding right back, and I like that he has an attacking instinct but the athleticism to recover," said Thompson. "He had a great sophomore season for Delaware as they won their conference tournament and we expect him to bring that winning mentality with him to Ocean City."

GOALKEEPERS

With 13 former goalkeepers moving on to play professionally over the last decade, the Nor'easters have always had a strong tradition of top-notch talent in between the posts and expect that will continue in 2017. The roster will feature five goalkeepers, and while Americans are in the minority with Nor’easters field players, all five netminders are born in the USA.

Todd Morton (West Chester, PA / Delaware) joined the Nor'easters toward the end of the 2016 season but made no appearances. He trained with the team throughout the deep playoff run including the PDL Eastern Conference Final win over arch rivals Reading United AC. He was the starter last season for a Delaware team that won their conference championship. He finished with a 1.14 GAA and 7 shutouts for the Blue Hens.

“Todd is a driven individual with a desire to reach the top level, so he wants to be a part of the Nor'easters team to showcase that he is one of the top junior goalkeepers in the nation," Thompson said. "He won the CAA title this season so he has a winning edge and mentality that we want to spread throughout the team, starting with his leadership skills in goal."

Hartford University goalkeeper, Jimmy Slayton (Wethersfield, CT / Hartford) had an exceptional freshman season, making 20 appearances, 19 of which he started. He had seven shutouts on the season in addition to his nine wins. He also boasted an impressive 0.99 goals against average for the season.

"Jimmy had an outstanding season at Hartford," Thompson said. "For a freshman to win a starting spot at a Division 1 school of Hartford's caliber says a lot about where Jimmy is going in his career.”

Another young goalkeeper joining the club for 2017 is Gus Valeriano (Southampton, NJ / California University - Penn.), a freshman from the California University of Pennsylvania.

"Gus has a bright future," Thompson said. "He's a South Jersey lad who has played for me since he was a 12-year-old. His commitment was second to none and will be a good character player to have around the squad. He is a technical keeper with very good communication and organizing skills, his ball striking and distribution are also his better qualities.”

High Point University goalkeeper, Patrick Fallon (Swarthmore, PA / High Point), will look to compete with Slayton and Morton for the starting job this summer. Fallon started one game and made his HPU debut as a starter on Sept. 17, 2016 against USC Upstate and recorded four saves to earn his first collegiate win.

“Pat came through our tryouts and I was impressed with his presence in goal,” said Thompson. “He is very agile for a 6-foot-4 keeper and will give us depth in that position."

The most experienced goalkeeper on the 2017 roster is Will Steiner (Point Lookout, NY / Villanova). After redshirting his freshman season in 2013 at Villanova, Steiner won the starting job the following season and has not missed a single game in the three campaigns that followed. Steiner has 15 clean sheets in his three seasons with the Wildcats and will provide the Nor’easters with some much-needed veteran leadership this season.

“Will is a good communicator and a leader,” Thompson said. “He has plenty of experience in big games which is what we need with little preparation time before our first game.”

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