2018 Nor'easters year in review: A US Open Cup run, nine league wins in PDL's toughest division (VIDEO)
Ocean City wins nine games for the third year in a row and are expected to qualify for the 2019 US Open Cup
MORE: 2018 Ocean City Nor'easters Team Award Winners
The Ocean City Nor'easters finished the club's 22nd season in the Premier Development League (PDL) with another successful campaign. For the fourth time in club history, they advanced to the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and won nine of the club's 14 league games.
However, since the Nor'easters compete in the toughest division in the PDL, nine wins just wasn't enough to qualify for the playoffs. For the second year in a row, Ocean City finished just shy of the postseason. With the top 2 teams in each division given a shot at the postseason, the Storm finished in fourth place in the Mid-Atlantic Division. The club's 9-5-0 record (27 points) would have been good enough for second place in eight of the PDL's other 10 divisions.
On the bright side, while the format for the 2019 US Open Cup has yet to be announced, a 9-5-0 record puts them as the 16th place among all of the U.S.-based clubs in the PDL. Last year, the top 20 teams qualified for the national tournament that features professional and amateur teams from every level of soccer in the United States. Barring a significant format change, the Nor'easters are expecting to be invited to the tournament for the 10th time in club history next year.
Head coach John Thompson finished up his second year in charge of the club with another nine-win season. His 18 league wins in two seasons puts him in third on the club's PDL wins list for coaches behind current Sporting Director Tim Oswald (47-19-6 from 2012-16) and Thompson's former Ocean City teammate Neil Holloway (34-23-23, 2005-06, 2009-11).
TAKING ON THE PROS AS LEAGUE PLAY BEGINS
"The season started at a hectic pace, with weekend matches followed by US Open Cup travel midweek, which meant that in the first three weeks we only really only got in four to six training sessions to install a style of play and a system of play all with out really knowing the true strengths and weaknesses of the players," said Nor'easters head coach John Thompson. "The players were brilliant throughout the US Open Cup run, represented the club with honor and put themselves and the club on display to the nation as we added another pro team upset to our impressive tournament resume."
The Nor'easters began a very busy opening month with an exhibition game against a professional team. Ocean City fell to the Philadelphia Fury (American Soccer League) 2-1, but playing a game against a pro team helped the team get ready for a very busy first three weeks that featured games in league play and in the US Open Cup.
The team's competitive season would begin in Ypsilanti, Mich. which would be the first of six straight road games to begin the campaign. The Nor'easters drew National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) power AFC Ann Arbor in the opening round.
Ocean City did not leave their legs on the bus (or the plane in this case) as the Nor'easters jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals from Williams N'Dah (Univ. of Charleston / Rome, Italy) and Simone Raioli (Grand View / Triuggo, Italy) in the opening 27 minutes. Deri Corfe (Wright State / Chester, England), who assisted on the opening goal by N'Dah, added to his impressive Ocean City debut by assisting on a goal by Ocean City's leading goalscorer from a year ago Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (Fairleigh Dickinson / Limbe, Haiti) just after halftime. The game would finish with Ocean City winning 3-0.
Goalkeeper Alec Smir (North Carolina / Greensboro, NC) also had an impressive Ocean City debut. Smir, who starred in goal as a freshman for the Tar Heels last fall, made seven saves to earn the clean sheet and was nominated for TheCup.us Player of the Round.
The Nor'easters returned to the East Coast where they opened the club's PDL schedule. After falling behind early to FA Euro New York, Corfe equalized in the 21st minute and was involved in the play where the ball came off an FA Euro defender for an own goal. The defense, led by an eight-save performance by Smir was enough to give Ocean City its third straight season-opening win, 2-1.
With minimal time to rest, the Nor'easters hopped back on a plane and flew to Charlotte, N.C. to take on the Charlotte Independence. The fans of the Independence, a pro team from the United Soccer League (directly below Major League Soccer) were stunned when another Ocean City newcomer Kyle Gurrieri (South Carolina / Totowa, NJ) scored two goals in the first seven minutes of the match. Mompremier would add his second goal of the tournament just before halftime as Ocean City would hold off Charlotte in the second half to earn the club's sixth win over a professional team in club history.
The six wins over professional teams is the third-most of any amateur team in the tournament's Modern Era (1995-present). It also marked the first time that Ocean City defeated a pro team on the road (the previous five were all at Carey Stadium) and it was the first win over a pro team that wasn't a shutout. No amateur team in the country has more pro team shutouts than the Nor'easters (6).
Three days later, the extensive travel caught up to the team as they headed up to Long Island to take on a very talented Rough Riders team. Long Island made a 61st minute goal stand up in a 1-0 win as the OCN offense fell flat. It was the first time the Nor'easters had failed to score a goal in a game since June 29 of the previous season.
After tasting defeat for the first time, the Storm traveled back down to North Carolina for the Third Round of the US Open Cup where they took on the USL's North Carolina FC. There was a lot on the line as the winner would take on D.C. United of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the next round. After falling behind early, the reigning NAIA National Player of the Year Uros Ilic (UC-Riverside / Nova Pazova, Serbia) equalized for the Nor'easters in the 17th minute. Unfortunately, NCFC would take the lead back nine minutes later and never look back as they eliminated Ocean City by the score of 4-1.
With the US Open Cup in their rear view mirror, the focus shifted back to league play. Unfortunately, waiting for them was back-to-back games against two of the best teams in the division.
SHIFTING FOCUS TO LEAGUE PLAY
Ocean City suffered a 16th minute red card on the road against the New York Red Bulls Under-23s, which led to a 4-0 loss. But the Storm was able to bounce back when they returned home to the friendly confines of The Beach House. They defeated Long Island 2-0 with goals from Raiola and the first career goal (in the first career start) from Alex Rose (North Carolina / Cary, NC). It was the Nor'easters' third straight home opening win.
"Our league form suffered because of the lack of training and the chopping and changing of the starting lineup and at one point the season could have fallen of a cliff," said Thompson. "But we dug in and pulled off a couple of important wins on the road and a crucial win at home against Long Island gave the boys belief and confidence again."
The Nor'easters headed back out on the road to take on Evergreen FC and Rose, who was ranked in the Top 40 on the PDL's Top Prospects list was rewarded with another start and he made the most of it. Rose scored the only goal of the game in the first half and the Nor'easters' defense was rock solid as Smir didn't have to make a single save to earn the clean sheet. For Smir, who was ranked in the Top 20 nationally in the PDL's Top Prospects List, it was his last game of the season for Ocean City as he left to take advantage of an exciting study abroad trip in the United Kingdom.
|Ocean City Nor'easters 2018 essentials|
|Ocean City Nor'easters History
(Updated after 2018 season)
|* All-Time Results (PDF)
* All-Time Player Year-By-Year Stats
* All-Time Goalkeeper Year-By-Year Stats
* Ocean City Nor'easters PDL Team Records
* Ocean City Nor'easters PDL Indiv. Records
* Ocean City Nor'easters PDL Career Leaders
Abdul Mansaray (Wilmington University / London, England) had a coming out party on June 14 in the team's 4-1 road win over Lehigh Valley United. Mansaray scored two goals and assisted on another and was named to the Eastern Conference Team of the Week for his efforts.
"At this point in the season, we lost a few players and gained some familiar faces, and injuries started to take their usual toll on the starting 11 and once again the loss away from home against Reading cost us a shot at the league title," said Thompson. "The season really got going when our home games began at the end of the season and we finished out with a 7-2 home record to match the 7-0-1 home record from last season. We scored 43 goals in 19 matches which is great output and an improvement on the 2016 season and similar to the 2016 squad, we hope to build on that next season and entertain our fans with more goals."
But a new winning streak was started shortly after with a 3-0 home win over Evergreen FC. Max Hemmings (Georgia State / Wokingham, England), Corfe and Raiola all scored and Todd Morton earned his second shutout of the season. With the win, the club completed the season sweep over Evergreen and improved their all-time record against the Hammers to 13-0-1.
In the club's last road game of the season, Corfe assisted on a goal by Rose and scored one of his own in a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley United.
THE HOME STRETCH
Three days later, the Nor'easters returned home to the Beach House where they would play their remaining six games (4 PDL games, 2 friendlies). In the first game against FA Euro New York, it was Alex Rose's turn to shine. The UNC product scored a hat trick in a 5-0 win over FA Euro, while Fredinho added a goal and two assists and Max Hemmings chipped in a goal and an assist. Mompremier's goal was so impressive that he was voted the PDL Goal of the Week (SEE VIDEO BELOW). Todd Morton made six saves and earned his seventh career shutout, which moved him into a tie for second place with Tunde Ogunbiyi on Ocean City's all-time list. It also gave the Storm a season sweep of FA Euro and improved their all-time record against them to 8-0-0.
Before their next leaguea game, the Nor'easters hosted West Chester United of the National Premier Soccer League for a friendly at the Beach House. Jimmy Slayton (Hartford / Wethersfield, CT) and Gus Valeriano (California University - Penn. / Southampton, NJ) shared the goalkeeping duties and earned a shutout, while Mansaray scored the winning goal in the 85th minute to send the home fans happy.
In their next league game, Ocean City fell to Reading United 4-2 which would ultimately eliminate the Storm from PDL playoff contention. However, there was still more to play for as the team focused on finishing the season strong in an effort to qualify for the 2019 US Open Cup.
They bounced back with goals from Hemmings, Rose and the first career goal by defender Finn Reese (Nyack College / Hamburg, Germany) to earn a 3-2 win over Lehigh Valley United on July 11. By completing the season sweep over United, it set up a must-win season finale against the playoff-bound New York Red Bulls Under-23s.
However, two days later, Ocean City hosted the D.C. United Under-23s for a friendly. The very confident Nor'easters cruised to a 7-1 win and remain unbeaten (2-0-1) in friendlies against the D.C. United over the last three years. Rose had a goal and two assists, Mompremier and Mansaray each had a goal and an assist, Hemmings and Reese added a goal each and Marco Torino had a pair of late scores to put the game away. Slayton and James Brett (Rutgers-Camden / Palmyra, NJ) split the goalkeeping duties.
The confidence from that exhibition win carried over into the season finale two days later with the Nor'easters needing a win over the Red Bulls to put themselves in prime position to qualify for next year's US Open Cup. They jumped out to an early lead on a Corfe penalty kick in the sixth minute. It was Corfe's sixth goal of the season and left him on top of the team's scoring chart in total points in all competitions (6 goals, 7 assists, 19 points). About a half-hour later, Ignacio Tellechea (California-Santa Barbara / Madrid, Spain) delivered a ball to Rose who scored his eighth goal of the season, which finished as a team-high. New York would pull one back in the 72nd minute, but the Ocean City defense held strong to give the team their ninth win of the campaign.
"We had four goals for the 2018 season," said Thompson. "Win our division, qualify for the  US Open Cup, have a memorable US Open Cup run and score 40 goals. We managed to reach three of those four goals so despite us not winning the league, it is without a doubt a successful season for the club."
VIDEO FEATURE ON THE NOR'EASTERS BY THE US SOCCER FEDERATION
CRUNCHING THE (PDL) NUMBERS
FREDLIN "FREDINHO" MOMPREMIER
Fredlin Mompremier, playing in his second season with Ocean City, added two more goals to his career total, which gives him a total of 10. He is now tied for the 7th-most in club history.
Mompremier's team-high six assists brings his career total to nine, which brings him into a tie for fifth in Nor'easters club history.
Mompremier's 10 points (2 goals, 6 assists) brings his career total to 29 points, which brings him up to 9th on the club's all-time scoring list.
Deri Corfe led the team in minutes played with 1,121.
Alex Rose led the team in goals with eight in 11 games played.
Todd Morton finished with a 6-3-0 record as a goalkeeper, which gives him 12 career wins in his two seasons with the Nor'easters. He is now tied for second place on the club's all-time wins list with Adam Edwards and John McCarthy. (Ryan Carr is the all-time leader with 17)
Morton finished the season with a 1.46 goals against average which put his career GAA at 1.11, which ranks fifth all-time in Ocean City history.
Morton added three more shutouts to bring his career total to seven, which puts him tied for second on the club's all-time list with Tunde Ogunbiyi. (Adam Edwards is the all-time leader with eight)
Morton's 801 minutes played brings his career total to 1,701, which ranks fifth on the club's all-time list.
After nine wins here is where Ocean City ranks in the PDL record books
7th best overall record since 2003 (139-65-44, 461 pts.)
4th best home record since 2003 (76-26-23, 251 pts.)
6th best home record since 2005 (61-24-21, 204 pts.)
8th most PDL wins all-time (139)