Ocean City takes sole possession of second place as unbeaten streak reaches 12 games
The Ocean City Nor’easters continue their unbeaten start to the 2021 USL League Two season with a 3-2 road win over Northern Virginia FC on Saturday night.
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Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT) maintained his team lead in goals with his fourth and fifth tallies of the season, while Tal Segev (NC State / Rishon LeZion, Israel) added his first goal of the campaign as the Storm built a 3-0 lead just after halftime. Northern Virginia would claw back into the game in the second half, cutting the lead to one, but the Ocean City defense would hold on for the win. The victory extends Ocean City's unbeaten streak to 12 games (dating back to the 2019 season), the second-longest streak in Ocean City's club history.
With the win, the Nor'easters (4-0-1) leap frog NOVA (4-2-0) into sole possession of second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division. They finish the night six points behind first place West Chester United, but Ocean City has played three fewer games (and has defeated West Chester United already this season).
The win improves the Nor'easters record to 4-0-1, the club's best start to a season since the Storm's Eastern Conference championship season of 2013.
Ocean City started the game strong by keeping Northern Virginia inside their own half, pinning the hosts deep while possessing the ball neatly around the top of the box. Led at the front by Simon Becher, the Nor’easters continued the pressure deep in the home team's half, before making the breakthrough in the 28th minute.
Bakary Bagayoko (Cumberland Univ. / Bronx, NY) drove to the end line before sliding back for Becher to place his shot in the far corner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The game continued to open as both sides pushed for the next chance of the match. Thanks to quick footwork on the top of the box by Kyle Galloway (Rutgers / Manahawkin, NJ), Ocean City was awarded a free kick right before the half. Tal Segev calmly stepped up before placing his shot directly over the wall and into the net to give the Nor’easters a 2-0 lead going into the halftime break.
It didn't take long for Ocean City to grab their third goal of the night once play resumed for the second half. After winning a free kick to the side of Northern Virginia's box, Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) drove a ball into the mix, where Becher was on hand to get a glancing header into the far corner of the net, his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
"We were excellent in the first half and executed on what we had spoken about before the game," said Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann. "For the first 10 mins of the second half we did the same and we were comfortable with a 3-0 lead."
"We dipped off after that and stopped doing what had given us success," added McCann, who is off to the Nor'easters' best start by a first-year head coach since Mike Pellegrino's 5-0-0 start to the 2007 campaign. "This allowed them to get some momentum behind them and we were poor for the last 15 minutes."
NVFC was able to capitalize on a period of possession, with a deflected shot by Georgetown forward Martin Ngoh that wrong-footed Jahmali Waite (UConn / Philadelphia, PA) and found its way into the back of the net.
The game continued to open as Nova FC were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute, before Ngoh converted the shot to give him a team-leading three goals on the season.
Ocean City held on to a one-goal lead for the final ten minutes of the game, effectively seeing out a few late chances, while having just as many in the opponents' half. Paolo Marciano (Adelphi / Capaccio, Italy) and Bo Cummins (Wake Forest / Port Huron, MI) both made their Ocean City debuts, coming on late in the second half to see the game out to improve Ocean City's all-time record against NVFC to 15-0-2.
In goal, Waite made five saves to improve his season record to 2-0-1. Despite giving up two goals (one from the penalty spot), Waite's goals against average is still an impressive 0.86.
The Nor’easters take back to the road next Wednesday, June 9 for their first league matchup of the season against Philadelphia Lone Star FC. The next home game for the Nor'easters is Sunday, June 13 when they host Northern Virginia FC at the Beach House. Tickets for that game, and all remaining home games, are available online HERE.