Nor'easters welcome talented group of goalkeepers for 2022

All four netminders hail from Division I programs that made NCAA tournament appearances last season

Nor'easters welcome talented group of goalkeepers for 2022

The Ocean City Nor’easters have a long tradition of talented goalkeepers and the club’s 25th season in 2022 will be no different.

The Nor’easters will feature four different exceptional netminders for the 2022 USL League Two season, hailing from New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and, for the third season in a row, Germany.

All four of the 2022 goalkeepers hail from NCAA Division I programs, with one of them returning from last year. Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA) saw time with the Nor’easters last season, and he will be joined by Lukas Burns (Providence / Cinnaminson, NJ), Ben Martino (Virginia Tech / Pittsburgh, PA) and Felix Schafer (Santa Clara / Berlin, Germany).

“In my time, we have had some extremely successful goalkeepers, with a number of them moving into professional clubs," said Nor'easters head coach Kevin Nuss. "I’m confident with the young, experienced goalkeepers we have signed this season, we will be adding names to our list of players in the professional game.”

Over the last 16 seasons, the Nor'easters have seen 18 goalkeepers sign with professional clubs, including two from last year's team. Jahmali Waite, who set the club's single-season record for goals against average (0.80) in 2021, signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL Championship) and Yannik Oettl signed with the New England Revolution 2 (MLS Next Pro).

Defense is expected to be a strong suit for the Storm in 2022 as the club aims to bring a championship to Ocean City, N.J., America’s Greatest Family Resort.

 

”I believe this is one of the most competitive groups of goalkeepers the club has been able to establish," said Nor'easters assistant and goalkeeping coach Matt Parrella. "For me, it's going to be a lot of fun to work with and challenge them throughout the summer."

The 2021 USL League Two season kicks off on May 21 with a road game against Real Central Jersey. The Nor’easters’ home opener will kickoff Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City on Friday, May 27  against Philadelphia Lone Star FC. Check out the schedule here to start planning your trip to the Beach House this summer.

Here are the 2022 Ocean City Nor’easters goalkeepers (in alphabetical order)

Lukas Burns (Providence / Cinnaminson, N.J.)

Lukas Burns, a native of Cinnaminson, N.J., comes to the Beach House by way of Providence College, a program that has made 11 NCAA tournament appearances in program history, including a memorable run to the Semifinals in 2014. Burns is the first Providence Friar to be a part of the Nor’easters since Keasel Broome in 2013 (NOTE: Broome was on that 2014 Providence team that reached the College Cup Semifinals).

Burns came to Providence after spending time with the Philadelphia Union Academy. This past season, he was the full-time starter for the Friars who had an impressive 12-5-4 record and reached the Big East championship game, where he was named to the Big East All-Tournament Team. Burns helped Providence qualify for the NCAA tournament. In the tournament, Burns earned a 2-0 shutout in the opening round win against Marist, and then eliminated the defending national champions Marshall, 2-1 in double overtime before falling to the No. 3 overall seed (and fellow Big East rival) Georgetown in Round 3.

In the end, Burns finished his sophomore season with seven shutouts and a 1.05 goals against average. The Friars finished ranked No. 16 in the final United Soccer Coaches Poll.

“Lukas is a South Jersey guy that we have had our eye on and we are really excited to have him join us," said Nuss. "From our first conversation, you could see that he would be a great fit for the culture we have here in Ocean City.”

Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA)

Owen Elliott is the lone returning goalkeeper from last year’s Ocean City team that qualified for the playoffs and the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. During the 2021 season, he played in four games, earning a 3-1-0 record and one clean sheet. Those four games were vital games for the Nor’easters as the Penn State Nittany Lion started the final four regular season contests and helped the club clinch a spot in the USL League Two playoffs.

Despite being from the Philadelphia area, Owen Elliott has a long history of playing soccer in South Jersey. Elliott spent 10 years playing for the South Jersey Elite Barons, a club the Nor’easters have a long history with.

Elliott will be entering his junior season at Penn State this fall as the Nittany Lions will have a tough time topping last year's performance last year. Along with Ocean City alum Andrew Privett (2021), PSU had a historic season in the Big Ten, winning the regular season and tournament championships and punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament. It was the first time in program history that the school had won the Big Ten “double”.

Elliott started three games for Penn State in his redshirt sophomore season, earning one win, a draw and a loss and one shutout.

“It is great to have Owen back, he was with the club last season and will help guide the new players and we look forward to him building off his success from last season,” said Nuss.

Ben Martino (Virginia Tech / Pittsburgh, PA)

Ben Martino arrives in Ocean City after an impressive freshman season at Virginia Tech. Martino started 18 of the team’s 20 games, leading the Hokies (along with Ocean City alums Jacob Labovitz and Nick Blacklock) to an 11-5-4 record in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Virginia Tech earned a bid into the NCAA tournament for the sixth year in a row. After defeating Campbell University in the opening round, the Hokies’ tournament run came to an end in the second round and reached the second round before being eliminated in a penalty kick shootout. Martino finished with five clean sheets and a 1.23 goals against average.

Martino was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s All-Freshman Team and the media outlet also included him on their list of the best freshman in the country, checking in at No. 20. No freshman in the ACC played in more games than Martino.   

Just like Lukas Burns, Ben Martino also spent time with the Philadelphia Union Academy and with Philadelphia Union 2, playing in three games for the USL side.

In addition to his performance on the field, he also had an impressive freshman year in the classroom there as he was named to the ACC All-Academic Team.

“Ben brings a ton of experience with him this summer and we are excited about seeing him in a Nor’easters uniform," said Nuss. "He has already attracted attention from professional clubs, so it says a lot that he believed we were the club to help him in his development.

Felix Schäfer (Santa Clara / Berlin, Germany)

Felix Schafer joins the Ocean City Nor’easters as one of the most well-traveled players of the 2022 roster. The Berlin, Germany native moved from the FC Hertha Berlin youth academy to the United States where he enrolled at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. Schafer will head to the Jersey Shore to play with the Nor’easters this summer, and then after the season is over, he will head to the opposite coast where he will play his junior season at Santa Clara University. Santa Clara, a program with a rich history that qualified for the NCAA tournament last year.

Last season at Grand View, he was an all-conference selection after earning seven shutouts and finishing ranked 24th in the nation in goals against average with a 0.79. Schafer was also the conference player of the week three times. He also shined in the classroom, earning a 3.94 GPA.

“Being out in Iowa [as head coach of Indian Hills Community College], Felix was on my radar from day one and I knew he was a top goalkeeper," said Nuss. "But when I got a phone call from Eric Klenofsky (former Nor’easters goalkeeper and professional player at D.C. United and Toronto FC) and heard his recommendation, I knew it was a no brainer to get Felix to join us.”

In addition to getting experience training with Saint Louis FC (USL Championship) during his time at Grand View, Schafer also suited up last month for the Des Moines Menace in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Schafer started and played all 90 minutes in Des Moines’ 4-2 home win over Minneapolis City in the opening round of the 107th edition of the tournament.

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