Corfe led Nor'easters in scoring in all competitions and was named to PDL All-Conference Team
The Ocean City Nor'easters have announced the club's team awards for the 2018 Premier Development League (PDL) season. The Nor'easters finished their 22nd season in club history (16th in the PDL) with a 9-5-0 league record and advanced to the Third Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. A nine-win league season is expected to earn qualification for next year's US Open Cup.
The following players played a major role in those accomplishments and helping the team succeed on and off the field in 2018 as the team honored players for Most Valuable Player, the Nor'easter Award and the Offensive, Defensive, Breakthrough, Creative and Young Players of the Year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Deri Corfe (Wright State / Chester, England)
Deri Corfe shined in his first season with the Nor'easters. Corfe led the team in scoring in all competitions (6 goals, 7 assists, 19 points) and remains among the 2018 US Open Cup's leaders in assists with four. Corfe played in every competitive game -- starting 16 of the team's 17 games -- and he led the team in minutes played (1,121) and played every minute of the team's three US Open Cup games.
|Deri Corfe scored six goals and had seven assists in 17 games across all competitions during the 2018 season. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
"Deri was a very good player for us this year. He was very good in the attacking third with his finishing and with his build-up play with his teammates," said Nor'easters general manager Giancarlo Granese Jr. "One of Deri's best contributions would be his willingness to take on players 1-on-1 and he would win those battles almost every time which helped us create so many offensive chances this year."
Corfe scored six goals and dished out three assists in league play for the Nor'easters and was a PDL All-Eastern Conference selection (honorable mention).
This marks the fourth year in a row and the sixth time in the last seven years that the Nor'easters have had a player named to the All-Conference team.
Corfe was vital in Ocean City's league schedule and the club's run in the US Open Cup. He assisted on two of the team's three goals in a 3-0 road win over AFC Ann Arbor in the opening round of the US Open Cup. Then, he assisted on two of the three goals in the team's 3-1 upset in North Carolina over the Charlotte Independence (USL) in Round 2. Corfe also scored back-to-back game-winning goals against Evergreen FC (June 23) and Lehigh Valley United (June 27) and was named to the Eastern Conference Team of the Week twice.
"Deri held the ball up well for us in the final third to allow us to get numbers in the box," said Nor'easters head coach John Thompson. "He started the season on fire with scoring goals and setting up teammates, but then he started to overcomplicate things before quickly getting his confidence back and finishing strong during our home stretch in July."
That home stretch was vital in likely clinching a spot in the 2019 US Open Cup. Corfe was a big part of that by scoring a point in five of the final six league games (4 goals, 3 assists) and helping the team go 5-1 during that span. Corfe finished the season by scoring the opening goal in the team's 2-1 season finale win over the New York Red Bulls Under-23s.
The Chester, England native started his youth soccer career playing at the Manchester City Academy. He moved to the United States where he signed with the University of Rio Grande (Ohio), which is a powerhouse in the NAIA. After two successful seasons, he signed with Wright State University and will continue his college career with the Raiders this fall.
OFFENSIVE MVP: Alex Rose (North Carolina / Cary, NC)
Alex Rose didn't arrive in Ocean City until late May, but once he got rolling, he made a big impact on the Nor'easters offense in the 11 games he played. Rose was the team's leading scorer in the regular season (8 goals, 1 assist, 17 points) and his eight goals led the team in all competitions.
|Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (left) of the Ocean City Nor'easters celebrates with Alex Rose after Rose scored a hat trick against FA Euro New York on June 30 at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, NJ. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
Rose also led the team in game-winning goals with three. He notched the only goal in the team's 1-0 win over Evergreen FC on June 9. His final two game-winners were the biggest as the Nor'easters needed to win their final two games of the season to have a chance at qualifying for next year's US Open Cup. His goal in the 59th minute against Lehigh Valley United on July 11 was the difference in a 3-2 win, and in the season finale a few days later, Rose scored on a pass from Ignacio Tellechea in the 34th minute and that goal stood up in a 2-1 win over the playoff-bound New York Red Bulls Under-23s.
"Alex is a great talent when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net and it showed this year being our leading goalscorer," said Granese. "Being just a freshmen, it was very impressive to see someone that young have the finishing tools that he has."
Rose, who was born in Chapel Hill, NC, was one of three University of North Carolina players to join the Nor'easters for 2018 (Alec Smir, Sam Jones). He played in just five games for the ACC powerhouse last year during his freshman year. He scored his first colleagiant goal at home against Rutgers University. Rose chose the Tar Heels after being a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school where multiple media outlets had him ranked in the Top 35 (as high as No. 7) among all players in the country. He scored 90 goals in four years with the Capital Area RailHawks Academy in North Carolina and was called up to the U.S. Under-19 National Team in 2016.
Many are excited to see what he will do this fall in his sophomore season.
"Alex has a knack for finishing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in the Top 10 in scoring this fall as he will get plenty of opportunities playing with a very talented UNC team. He creates space very well and finds time in the box to pick his head up and hit the target."
DEFENSIVE MVP: Williams N'Dah (University of Charleston / Rome, Italy)
|Ocean City Nor'easters defender Williams N'Dah. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
Williams N'Dah made an immediate impact in his first season in Ocean City when the defender got forward and scored the first goal of the season for the Nor'easters. In the team's opening round US Open Cup match in Ypsilanti, Mich. against AFC Ann Arbor (NPSL), Deri Corfe served a free kick into the box and N'Dah got free and headed the ball into the back of the net 11 minutes into the match. He then helped shut down the AFC Ann Arbor offense as the Nor'easters earned a 3-0 win on the road to open the tournament.
N'Dah would play every minute of the team's three-game US Open Cup, including helping the team earn a 3-1 road win over the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (USL). He would start eight of the team's first nine regular season games, helping the team earn three shutouts during that time. Unfortunately, injuries slowed him up in the second half of the season as he missed four of the last five games. However, he did come off the bench in the Nor'easters' last game of the season as he helped secure a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls Under-23s and a likely spot in the 2019 US Open Cup.
"Williams had a terrific season at center back," said Thompson, who was a center back himself during his playing days, winning the 2004 PDL Defender of the Year award. "He is athletic and covers ground with ease and reads the game very well. He also had a influential role to play in center midfield during our US Open Cup run. We lost him to injury in the last two weeks but its easy to see how the University of Charleston (WV) won the [NCAA] Division 2 national title with him at the heart of their defense."
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alec Smir (North Carolina / Greensboro, NC)
The Nor'easters have been known for having a talented group of goalkeepers each year. The 2018 season was no different as the Nor'easters featured last year's Defender of the Year Todd Morton (Delaware / West Chester, PA), another exceptional goalkeeper in Jimmy Slayton (Hartford / Wethersfield, CT) and one of the top Division 3 netminders in James Brett (Rutgers-Camden / Palmyra, NJ). However, it was Smir who stood out immediately and earned the starting job and was a big reason why the Nor'easters were able to reach the Third Round of the US Open Cup.
|Alec Smir of the Ocean City Nor'easters punches the ball away from danger in a road game against Reading United AC. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
"Alec was one of the best freshmen goalkeepers that the club has ever had," said Granese. "He came in with a big reputation being from UNC and he did not disappoint while he was in net for us. His feet, strength in the air and distribution were all top notch."
Smir came to Ocean City after an impressive freshman year at UNC. The Nor'easters' coaching staff were confident in his ability to adapt to a new team right away after seeing what he did in his first season of college soccer with the Tar Heels. Smir was thrown into the fire at UNC when starter James Pyle (who had led the Charlotte Eagles to the 2017 PDL championship) suffered a season-ending injury eight games into the season. Smir came through by starting 10 of the 11 games he played in as the team went 10-1-1 during his time between the sticks. He finished third in the ACC in goals against average (0.69) and sixth in save percentage (.733).
With the Nor'easters, he started all three US Open Cup games, including a seven-save shutout against AFC Ann Arbor in his debut on the road, which earned him a nomination for TheCup.us Player of the Round. He followed that up by returning to his home state to lead the Storm to a 3-1 upset over the Charlotte Independence (USL). He made seven saves in the win before falling in Round 3 to a much stronger pro team in North Carolina FC.
Smir would start three of the first four games of the regular season, picking up a 2-1 road win over FA Euro New York and a 1-0 shutout win over Evergreen FC. That 1-0 win over the Hammers would be his final game of the summer as Smir departed for an exciting study abroad opportunity in the United Kingdom.
Smir left ranked No. 17 on the PDL's Top Prospects list and there are high hopes for him in the upcoming 2018 college season.
"Alec was a class act for us this season," said head coach John Thompson. "As a goalkeeper, he has a very bright future in the game. He is very mature and calm on the field for a 19-year-old and defenders know he has a steady pair of hands. Nothing much rebounds off of him, and he is a quality shot-stopper.
"Alec will always have a summer home in Ocean City should he want to play next season," Thompson added. "We will be watching all his college games this fall at UNC."
CREATIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Simone Raiola (Grand View / Triuggo, Italy)
|Simone Raiola scores a goal from about 35 yards out in a 2-0 home win over the Long Island Rough Riders. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
Simone Raiola finished tied as the club's third leading scorer in the regular season with three goals and four assists (10 points). He also scored the team's second goal of the season in the opening round of the US Open Cup when Ocean City traveled to Michigan and defeated AFC Ann Arbor, 3-0.
Raiola played a major role in the team's success this year. If he wasn't scoring big goals, he was assisting on them. He was involved in four game-winning goals, including three in a row that began on June 3 when he scored a brilliant opening goal from about 35 yards out in a 2-0 home win over the Long Island Rough Riders. The goal fell just short in the voting for PDL Goal of the Week. (WATCH VIDEO BELOW)
He followed that up with an assist on Alex Rose's game winner in a 1-0 win over Evergreen FC (June 9) and his scoring what would prove to be the game-winner on the road against Lehigh Valley United on June 14 (he also assisted on the opening goal by Abdul Mansaray that day).
Raiola's last game-winner came on June 23 when he assisted on Deri Corfe's opening goal in the 40th minute in a 3-0 win over Evergreen FC.
However, despite his offensive production, Raiola's ability to create opportunities for his teammates was what stood out during the 2018 season.
"One of the first things you could see from Simone's game in the opening game was his skill on the ball and being able to create for others and for himself," said Granese. "Simone's vision was his best attribute and it was easily noticed as soon as he stepped on the field."
Raiola was a big part of another winning season for the nationally-ranked Grand View University (Ia.) Vikings. The Italian was an NAIA All-American, earning honorable mention honors for a season that saw him produce 13 goals and dish out nine assists. With two more years left at Grand View, the Vikings will continue to have a national championship in their sights this fall and beyond.
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kyle Gurrieri (South Carolina / Totowa, NJ)
|Kyle Gurrieri scored two goals in the first seven minutes in his debut with the Ocean City Nor'easters in a 3-1 upset win over the Charlotte Independence (USL) in the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
The biggest surprise of 2018 was the breakout performance of Kyle Gurrieri who easily made the biggest first impression of the year. On May 16, Gurrieri made his season debut on the road against the Charlotte Independence in the Second Round of the US Open Cup. The USL side and their fans were stunned when Gurrieri scored two goals in the opening seven minutes of the match to put the Nor'easters on the path to pulling off an upset over a pro team for the sixth time in club history.
Kyle would add two more assists in the 10 regular season games he would play. One of those assists was on Max Hemmings' game-winning goal in a 5-0 win over FA Euro New York on June 30.
"Kyle was one of the biggest surprises that we brought in this year," said Granese. "Being out of school and playing in Sweden for a year, we did not know what to expect, but as soon as he played his first game you could see the talent he possessed. Kyle was a great center midfielder who has a great brain for the game and can distribute very well."
After Gurrieri spent his freshman year at Syracuse in 2016, he decided to embark on a new challenge in Sweden. The U.S. youth international (Under-14, Under-15, Under-17), signed with Nordvärmland FF, a team in the Swedish Second Division. After returning stateside, and with a season in the PDL under his belt, he plans to attend the University of South Carolina with the hope of eventually playing in the pros.
NOR'EASTER AWARD: Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (Fairleigh Dickinson / Limbe, Haiti)
Fredinho came into the 2018 season with high expectations. Last year's Offensive Player of the Year scored nine goals and dishing out three assists in all competitions in 2017, but his versatility and team-first approach to the game shined in 2018. Combine that with his passion for being a team ambassador off the field and in the community, Mompremier was an easy choice as this year's Nor'easters Award winner.
|Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier of the Ocean City Nor'easters scores a goal against FA Euro New York on June 30 at Carey Stadium ("The Beach House") in Ocean City, NJ. The goal was later voted PDL Goal of the Week. Photo: Glory Days Magazine | Dave O'Sullivan|
"Freddy was one of our returning players this year and he did not disappoint," said Granese. "Though he did not play up top [as a forward] in every game like he did in 2017 but he was willing to play whatever position the club asked him to in order for the team to succeed. On top of his on-the-pitch performance, Freddy was great off the field with the kids in the community and was willing to do whatever the club needed him to do."
While a striker by trade, Mompremier showed his versatility by playing most of the season as an outside defender. He used his speed to not only join the attack on numerous occasions where he had a team-high six assists, but to also slow down the other team's attack by locking down their speedy wings.
Fredinho also scored two goals in league play with the biggest highlight coming against FA Euro on June 30 when he scored an impressive goal that earned him PDL Goal of the Week honors. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
The "Haitian Sensation" has represented his home country of Haiti at the Under-20 National Team level. Last season, he scored five goals and had two assists in nine games in his injury-shortened first year at Fairleigh Dickinson. Mompremier transferred to FDU after an All-American sophomore season at the University of Tampa. He has high hopes for a strong senior season for the Knights this fall.