After nearly two-hour weather delay, West Chester United wins division title, 2-1
PHOTO: Jack Verdeur (IG: @jack_verdeur)
After a weather delay that lasted more than two hours, the Ocean City Nor'easters lost their regular season home finale to West Chester United, 2-1, on Friday night.
The loss snapped the Nor'easters' three-game winning streak, and ended the Storm's chances of winning the Mid-Atlantic Division. When the rain stopped and the final whistle blew, West Chester United (11-1-2) clinched the division title and Ocean City (8-2-3) had to settle for second place. Both teams have already qualified for the USL League Two playoffs.
Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) scored Ocean City's lone goal in the second half on a penalty kick
The Nor'easters still have one more game left. They will close out the regular season on the road against the Philadelphia Lone Star FC on Sunday, July 11. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Elsewhere on Friday night, Seacoast United defeated FC Malaga City 4-0 to all but lock up the Eastern Conference Wild Card spot as the best third place team between the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast divisions. They hold a 10-goal advantage in the goal difference tiebreaker over Northern Virginia FC. Since Northern Virginia is highly unlikely to qualify for the postseason, Northeast Division front runners Western Mass Pioneers (based in Ludlow, Mass.) will host the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The matchups and seedings for the tournament will be announced after the regular season ends on Sunday. The first two rounds will take place next weekend (July 16-18).
Friday night's result gives Ocean City and West Chester a true split in this year's three-game series. The Nor'easters beat the Predators 2-1 at the Beach House back on May 23 before the two teams finished in a scoreless draw at West Chester's home field on June 16.
The Nor'easters started strong, creating multiple chances in the opening 15 minutes. The Storm pushed up the left sideline and Neville Morgan (Lindsey Wilson / Westmoreland, Jamaica) sent in a beautiful cross right onto the doorstep where Nick Akoto (Tennessee Wesleyan / London, England) attempted to head the ball in. It was a jumpball between Akoto and West Chester goalkeeper Kent Dickey. In the end, Dickey won the battle to keep the game scoreless.
Less than a minute later, a Caden Stafford (Maryland / Cincinnatus, NY) corner kick was picked out of the air by Dickey.
In the 9th minute, Stafford created another chance after intercepting a ball in the West Chester half of the field. The former Philadelphia Union 2 player sent a long pass along the ground up to Alex Andersson (Colorado - Colorado Springs / Helsingborg, Sweden) who fought off two defenders and drifted to the right side of the penalty area before choosing to cross the ball instead of shoot it and the play was broken up by the Predators.
West Chester opened up the scoring in the 31st minute off a counter attack that came down the right wing. A cross by Kyle Tucker was played into the box where WCU's leading scorer Troy Amspacher just barely beat Ocean City goalkeeper Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA) to the ball and volleyed it into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, lightning was spotted and the skies opened up and the game was brought to a halt for almost two hours.
After the restart, Ocean City continued to put pressure on the West Chester goal, but it was the Predators who scored. After a turnover near midfield, the ball was played up to Chris Donovan who chipped the ball over the head of Elliott and into the back of the net.
Down 2-0, the Storm continued to fight to get back in the game. In the 53rd minute, Ocean City would have their best chance of the game. A long ball into the West Chester offensive third fell to Morgan on the left wing. He cut inside to the middle of the field and dribbled to the top of the box and took a sliding shot with his left foot that took a deflection and struck the crossbar. West Chester cleared the ball and kept the home team off the scoresheet.
Moments later, West Chester nearly scored on a counter attack as Justin Jaime ran on to a long ball and got in behind the Ocean City defense. He was one-on-one with Elliott but the goalkeeper got a piece of the ball and it struck the crossbar and went out of bounds.
In the 69th minute, Ocean City got back in the game. After a foul just inside the penalty area, the referee called for a penalty shot. Quartey immediately grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot. Dickey guessed correctly, diving low to his left, but Quartey's shot snuck past him to cut the lead in half. It was Quartey's third goal of the year, to go along with his team-leading five assists.
The Nor'easters pushed hard for the equalizer in the remaining 20 minutes, but despite three to four quality chances, they were unable to find it.
"Our second half reaction was good, but once again we put ourselves into trouble in the first half with unacceptable errors," said Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann, who will be leading a team into the USL League Two playoffs for the third year in a row.
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