A look back on a record breaking season
The Ocean City Nor’easters finished the 2012 USL PDL regular season with a 13-3-0 record breaking team and individual player records along the way. The Nor’easters finished top of the Mid-Atlantic Division, had the best record in the Eastern Conference giving the a bye to the Conference Finals and also had the 3rd highest points total in the whole Premier Development League, just behind Michigan Bucks and Thunder Bay Chill.
Rookie head coach Tim Oswald, who also runs the Division III college soccer program at Rutgers-Camden University has taken the team to new heights in 2012. The team was known throughout the country for it’s attacking speed and flair and this was seen with top marksman Zoncher Dennis scoring 11 goals in 14 games to finish 3rd in the PDL scorers chart. However, it seems that it was the defense that was the solid foundation for the Nor’easters this year as they broke a club record of conceding only 13 goals in 16 games (4th overall in 2012) and goalkeeper Jon McCarthy broke the club record for most wins in a regular season with 11 wins in 14 games.
In terms of the Ocean City Nor’easters long-term franchise records in 2012 they were on the up. The overall franchise PDL record, from 2003, leapt to 87-40-37. The Nor’easters moved up to 6th overall in the PDL winning records and are tied for 5th overall for there home record of 49-16-18 showing just how important the Nor’easters supporters are to this club.
On an individual level in 2012 many of our long-serving players as well as our new boys reached some franchise milestones of their own. Markhus "Duke" Lacroix was the only Nor’easter to play in every game this season and was one of 7 players to break the 1,000 minute mark in the 16 game season. The other players were Nick Bibbs, Kevin Curran, Tapiwa Machingauta, Zoncher Dennis, Jon McCarthy and Max Hamilton. Major milestones in the PDL careers of our veteran players were also broken in 2012. Junior Chapman broke 2,000 minutes (2,033) between 2009 to 2012, club captain Terry Gibbs reached 2,885 minutes in 3 seasons (2010-2012) and he also became the 6th highest Nor’easters scorer, tied with General Manager and former player Neil Holloway. Co-captain Max Hamilton broke 3,000 minutes (3,231) in his career with Ocean City and it only took 40 games and 3 seasons, this puts Hamilton to 9th overall on the franchise minutes leaderboard. A big congratulations needs to be saved for one of our longest serving players Kevin Curran. Curran has reached 3,839 minutes in 4 seasons in a Ocean City uniform and 2012 saw the left back score his only 2 career goals, his minutes see him 5th overall on the franchise leaderboard.
Coach Oswald spoke at length to us about the preparations for 2012 regular season, "When I took this position at the end of September 2011, we instantly hit the recruiting trail hard and we wanted to once again put the OC Nor’easters back on the PDL map with the help and assistance of John Granese (El Presidente), Neil, and the rest of the PDL staff. We had to sell the previous success of the club, the quality of our organization from top to bottom, the professionalism of our staff, and the location at the beach for kids to look past the previous last 2 seasons records, but the guys believed in us and they believed in the players that we had signed. I am not going to say that it was easy because it was a huge amount of work behind the scenes, but the time and effort that we put in paid incredible dividends reflected on our 1st Regular Season together as a revamped management and coaching staff."
Oswald then told us about the season itself, "Before we knew it, we had a young, dynamic, and electric squad with a sprinkling of some older players that had been through the PDL grind in previous years and knew what it took to be successful. When the First Kick happened in Baltimore to when the final whistle blew Sunday with a wild celebration, our boys put together a complete and impressive effort over the course of the 16 game PDL season to become only 1 of 3 teams in the country to have won 13 games and have the 3rd most points in the PDL. That’s quite the feat when you factor in some of the injuries and adversity we faced throughout the season as well as the quality of the 9 other teams in our conference and the other 72 PDL teams in the country."
On the field the 2012 regular season was a runaway success. The Nor’easters began with a 2-0 victory away to the newest PDL franchise, Baltimore Bohemians. Max Hamilton scored along with the first of many from Zoncher Dennis was the difference. The next game bought the Nor’easters back to earth as they were beaten away to Jersey Express 2-1.
Ocean City bounced back with 3 wins on the bounce scoring 9 goals and only conceding 1 against Central Jersey Spartans, New Jersey Rangers and a redemption win over Jersey Express. The Nor’easters stumbled again against Mid-Atlantic Division rivals Reading United 2-1 in Pennsylvania. However, this defeat only galvanized the Nor’easters to go on a 8 game unbeaten run scoring 24 goals as they stormed to the top of the division. Along the way they beat Baltimore Bohemians at home before a 4 game road trip with wins at Bermuda Hogges, Brooklyn Knights, Westchester Flames and Long Island Rough Riders.
The Nor’easters took their great form back to Carey Stadium and to their great fan base who have helped them to the 5th best home record in the USL PDL. Wins over Bermuda Hogges, New Jersey Rangers and Westchester Flames saw them flying high at the top of the division and clinch a playoff place.
The last two games were to clinch the division and the best record in the Eastern Conference. Ocean City just needed one win to secure both titles, however, Reading United were fighting for their playoff lives and won the game 2-0 to put the pressure on the Nor’easters last game of the regular season at Carey Stadium against the Brooklyn Knights. The Nor’easters got the win they needed but they made hard work of it as the Knights keeper was in outstanding form. Ocean City ended the regular season with a 1-0 home win and lots of celebrations in front of 1,175 Nor’easters fans, the highest attendance of the season.
The Nor’easters ended the season as Mid-Atlantic Division champions as well as holders of the best record in the Eastern Conference. Of course the purpose of the United Soccer Leagues Player Development League is to put players in a professionalized environment and help them progress to the next level. So it was great to hear that one of our players was offered a trial with MLS team Sporting Kansas City and we wish him the best of luck, more news to come as it happens.
The Nor’easters have a young team with many college Freshmen and Sophomores so hopefully this team can stay together, continue to improve even more so and we can see more Nor’easters progressing into the professional leagues.