Nor'easters Women's roster taking shape with signing of six midfielders, four forwards

Roster nearly complete as team's offensive unit is signed for 2016 EDP season

Ocean City Nor'easters Women Midfielders (left to right) Ally Zelinski, Tara O'Brien, Maddie Williscroft, Despina Lianidis, Sarah Ghaffoor, Alex Fama

With the club's inaugural season in the Eastern Development Program (EDP) just around the corner the team has signed 10 new players to fill up roster spots in the midfield and forward positions.

"I am excited about the talent we have in the midfield and forward position," said Nor'easters Women head coach Bill O'Neill. "All the players come from highly successful programs, which brings the understanding of what it takes to be successful. During the first two training sessions, we have seen a high level of energy and creativity out of these positions, which is what we are looking for in the style we would like to play.

"Over the next couple of sessions we will try and solidify where each player will fit and what formation fits our players," he added. "I feel we will be very dangerous going forward and getting to goal."

Here are the players by position:

MIDFIELDERS

Maddie Williscroft

Williscroft played for Mainland Regional High School and was a starter all four years. She racked up plenty of awards during her junior and senior years including, All-Conference First Team, All-South Jersey, Team MVP, and All-State honors. She also won back-to-back US Club Cup State Championships in 2014 and 2015 with New Jersey Rush '96, and won a regional championship in 2012 with her NJ ODP team. She currently playing college soccer at Rowan University.

“I'm really excited to play for the Nor'easters," said Williscroft, who currently plays her college soccer at Rowan University. "I can't wait to meet the team and take full advantage of this great opportunity to improve myself as a player and to play so close to home.”

Sarah Ghaffoor

Ghaffoor recently finished her junior year at Chowan University in North Carolina, starting in all 12 games that she played. Ghaffoor is from Hamilton, New Jersey and she played for Under-23 Philadelphia Flames Women Team at 16 years old. In 2014, at Mercer County Community College, she was named to the Garden State Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.

"I am confident that I can play on this level, and am looking for an opportunity to demonstrate to the coaches and to my team that I can be effective and a great addition to the team," said Ghaffoor. "My goal is to attend a four-year public or private university to play competitive soccer and further my education.”

Tara O'Brien

O'Brien is the first international player to sign with the Nor'easters Women, hailing from England. O’Brien played her college soccer for The Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where is was an All-American in 2012, All-ICAA first team selection from 2012-14, an All-Atlantic Regional First Team 2012-13 and the NCAA's Division 2 statistical leader in points per game in 2012. O’Brien started in and played in all 54 games of of her college career, and was never subbed off. She holds the record at Lincoln for career goals, points, assists and game-winning goals. Prior is playing in the U.S. she was was with Fulham Football Club where she was the captain of her youth team for four years. She also played for Queens Park Rangers FC.

“Every time I put on that jersey I am reminded that the name on the front is more important than the name on the back," said O'Brien.

Ally Zelinski

Zelinski had a successful high school career at Ocean City High School. She was a Press of Atlantic City first team all-star for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In the fall she will play for The College of New Jersey. Zelinski is a versatile player who can also play on the backline when called upon.

"I am extremely excited to be playing for Ocean City," said Zelinkski. "Being able to play for my home town is a privilege and I look forward to a successful season."

Alex Fama

Fama is from Linwood, NJ and played for Mainland High School. She recently finished her junior year at Stockton University. Fama is very strong midfielder that has a good eye for the goal, having totaled eight goals and five assists during her time at Stockton.

"I am honored to be a part of a team that has so many talented girls," said Fama. "The staff has combined the top players from the best local teams, which should help us produce a successful first season."

Despina Lianidis

Lianidis was four-year varsity starter at Mainland Regional High School and played on the club team Jersey Premier Soccer '98. Her laundry list of awards include: Cape Atlantic League First Team All Star, Press of AC First Team All Star, Press of AC Girls' Soccer Player of the Week, and NJGSCA All-State. She is able to play attacking midfielder, outside midfielder, and forward. Lianidis will be playing for The College of New Jersey in the fall.

"I am excited to play for the Ocean City Nor'easters because I know it will help me improve my game," said Lianidis.

FORWARDS

Laina Matus

Ocean City Nor'easters Women Forwards: (left to right) Laina Matus, Max New, Allison Paonessa, Hannah Richman

Matus played four years of varsity soccer at Egg Harbor Township High School and played two years at Stockton University. As a freshman in 2013 at Stockton, she played in all 25 games and made eight starts. During her sophomore year, she finished third on the team in goals (6) and points (15).

“I'm excited to start this next chapter of my life," said Matus. "We have a lot of talented players on the team, not to mention the chemistry between us all is rare to come by, so it's exciting to see where this season will take us.”

Max New

New plays her college soccer at Rowan University where she finished up her junior year where she played in all 20 games with five starts. The past season, she led the team in points (21) and goals (9). Five of those goals were of the game-winning variety. New spent her freshman and sophomore years at Stony Brook University, where she named to the America East All-Rookie Team. During her time at Clayton High School, New received First Team honors for the conference in all four years. She also received First Team all-South Jersey honors in her junior and senior year. Along with those awards she received MVP at the Ferguson Classic Tournament and was able to break the school record with 105 career goals.

"I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to play for the Ocean City Nor'Easters," said New, who played club soccer for the Medford Strikers and FC Bucks. "The team chemistry was high right from the beginning which is a big asset in winning games. I am looking forward to having a great season with the team and getting this experience of high level soccer."

Allison Paonessa

Paonessa graduated from Camden County Technical School in 2013 where she played at the varsity level, where she was named the MVP at her school and was the leading scorer, averaging 16 goals per year. In the fall, she is transferring to Rowan University, where she will be joining three fellow Ocean City Nor'easter teammates. Panonessa began her college play at Burlington County Community College and was named Team MVP, and earned First Team honors for Garden State Division 1 all conference teams, and Division 1 Women's Soccer All-Region first string team.  

"I am extremely honored to be picked for the Ocean City Nor'easters team," said Paonessa. "I am excited to play with everyone, there's a lot of good talent on the team. I'm grateful to be part of this experience.”

Hannah Richman

Richman is an Egg Harbor Township High School graduate where she was a three-year varsity starter and the Offensive MVP during her junior and senior years. Richman is currently with the The College of New Jersey and just finished up her second year with the program. She has played in 30 games and tallied seven goals and five assists.

"I am honored to have been picked to play for Ocean City FC’s women’s program this summer," said Richman. "I am extremely excited for what’s to come and ready to improve my technical play.”

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For more information on the Ocean City Nor'easters or to "Follow the Storm" on social media, go to www.oceancityfc.com/followthestorm or text "FOLLOWTHESTORM" to 22828 to join the "Storm Watch" e-newsletter.

The Ocean City Nor’easters is a professionally run amateur soccer club with the focus of developing, educating and promoting soccer, health and leadership. Located in Ocean City, New Jersey, “America’s Greatest Family Resort”, the Nor’easters provide quality entertainment to families throughout the Tri-State area and the thousands of visitors every summer.

The Nor’easters Women kick off their inaugural season in the Eastern Development Program (EDP) in 2016 which strives to enable soccer players to reach their full potential on and off the field, with an emphasis on going to college, by providing a full range of the highest quality soccer-related experiences and empowering each player to select the pathway best suited to their goals. The EDP works closely with member clubs to develop a positive, fair, and competitive environment based on cooperation and communication.
We continually strive to be an extraordinary place to work and develop as professionals. Ocean City players have the ability to compete during the summer months in a professional environment while maintaining their collegiate eligibility and pursuing their academic goals.

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