After another hugely succesful year it's proved impossible to squeeze all this season's highlights into just 10 points, so here are our top 11 moments of the 2013 season
After one of the most succesful years in the club’s history we take a look back at the 11 biggest highlights of the season...as 10 just wasn’t enough!
11. Nor’easters enter the tournament game with official youth partners Jersey Premier Soccer
This season saw the Nor’easters and Jersey Premier Soccer hold the first annual Shore Shootout soccer tournament in Ocean City. With over 50 teams entering, the tournament was a huge success as young soccer players from around the region showed off their skills in front of Nor’easters players and staff. Through their partnership with JPS the Nor’easters are committed to youth soccer in South Jersey as they look to develop the Nor’easters stars of the future!
10. Inter Milan Coaches visit Ocean City
The Nor’easters were lucky enough to welcome two top coaches from Italian and European soccer giants Inter Milan to the club in 2013. In the week building up to our Mid-Atlantic Division title winning game the team had the pleasure of welcoming Roberto Niccolai and Alessandro Montagnani to Ocean City as they visited New Jersey through Inter Club NJ Facchetti’s support of former Inter player Ivan Cordoba’s charity 4EduSoccer, who help raise funds for missions throughout Colombia. The coaches watched over team practices as well as being present for the Nor’easters’ 4-0 victory over NJ LUSO Rangers and were very positive about the quality of the team, coaching and the organisation as a whole. Being able to learn from representatives of one of the most respected clubs in world soccer was a great experience for the Nor’easters staff as they move forward and implement the best practices from around the world in order to ensure we keep developing fantastic soccer players for the professional leagues.
9. Olympic Spirit
This summer was the first time the club were able to welcome an Olympic Athlete to Ocean City in the form of goalkeeper Mike O’Keeffe. Mike represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Games, playing all three games as the team played Belarus, Egypt and a Brazilian team which included international superstars Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Neymar. Mike’s quick reflexes and fine distribution played a key role in the Nor’easters success this season, particularly in the Eastern Conference semi-finals where he topped a fantastic display by saving a penalty kick to provide Emmanuel Kollie with the chance to put the team into the final.
8. Nor’easters Ocean City Summer Camp
It was another hugely successful summer for the annual Nor’easters soccer camps as over 300 young Nor’easters fans from all over the East Coast and beyond got the chance to improve their skills whilst meeting their soccer heroes. With assistance from the JPS coaches the Nor’easters players delivered 5 week long camps over the summer for children aged 3-15 which focused on learning fundamental soccer skills whilst having a lot of fun! As well as improving their ability, at the end of the week each camper left with a Nor’easters ball, a T-shirt and memories of a great summer with their Nor’easter Idols!
7. A new era of player wellbeing in Ocean City
In an exciting addition to the coaching team, this summer was the first time the Nor’easters appointed a full-time professional Sports Therapist and Masseur in the form of Christos Economopoulos. Christos ran regular fitness and recovery sessions throughout the season as well offering sports massages to the players to ensure every member of the squad was able to give everything each time they stepped onto the field. He was also able to take advantage of the Ocean City landscape by holding sessions on the beach and in the ocean as the players enjoyed the natural facilities offered by America’s Greatest Family Resort. Appointing a sports therapist is just another indication of the increasing professionalism of the Nor’easters Staff as well as their dedication to providing players with the opportunity and knowledge to take their game to the next level.
6. Fans Vote
With over 2,000 supporters on social media we decided to dedicate one spot on this countdown to our brilliant support as we look at our fan’s highlights of the year. After such a successful season it has been difficult to distinguish one particular highlight as every fan has individual moments that have stood out for them. Despite this there have been certain events that have had everyone talking throughout the year, some which have been mentioned time and again include;
- Goalkeeper Keasel Broome’s mammoth assist to help secure an opening day victory against the New York Red Bulls U23 side
- Timmy Mulgrew’s impudent lob and celebration to seal victory against New Jersey Rangers
- Dwayne Reid’s adhesive first touch to control a dropping ball before scoring to set the team on the way to victory against Ottawa Fury.
- Securing the Mid-Atlantic title with a victory against long-term rivals Reading United
Some of our younger supporters have also highlighted the performance of our coaches, especially the likes of O’Keeffe, Ken Tribbett, Dwayne Reid, Steve Perinovic and Riccardo Israel, at camp as their highlight for the summer. The theatrical performances of ’sharks and minnows’ from Perinovic and ’on the river, on the bank’ by Israel and Reid have been particularly popular!
Whichever one of the many stand-out moments from the season our supporters pick as their own personal highlight everybody at the Nor’easters would like to thank each and every one of them, as consistently playing in front of such a supportive and passionate crowd has always been a major highlight for our players and entire organization.
5. Dwayne Reid’s Inclusion in the All-Eastern Conference Team
After signing from Westchester Flames at the beginning of the Season Dwayne ’Bullet’ Reid instantly became a crucial component of the Nor’easters attacking arsenal; blessed with electric pace, natural strength and a keen eye for goal Reid provided a threat to every defence he came up against during the season. After a solid start to the year Dwayne exploded into life by scoring 9 goals in 3 games against New Jersey Rangers, Reading United and New York Magic, including 5 in just one game against the Magic to break the Nor’easters single game scoring record. As the season progressed Reid’s telepathic understanding with midfield playmaker Frank Tweneboa was a huge feature in the Nor’easters run to the Eastern Conference title, with Tweneboa’s incisive passing the catalyst for many of Reid’s 12 goals for the season. Whilst one might question the absence of several other Nor’easters players in the All-Eastern Conference Team, the selection of Reid is one thing they clearly got right.
Watch the highlight’s of Reid’s season here
4. US Open Cup run
Along with their PDL success the Nor’easters also enjoyed a fantastic US Open Cup run which saw them defeat New York Red Bulls’ U23 side and USLPRO side Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the way to securing a huge third round game against MLS team Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. As well as providing the Nor’easters with a platform to perform at a professional stadium with a capacity of 18,500 it also gave the players an opportunity to test themselves against some of the most talented players the nation has to offer. This was a test the Nor’easters relished as they put in one of their finest performances of the season to nullify the attacking threat of a front line including US Men’s National team striker Jack McInerney for large periods of the game, whilst always carrying a threat going forward. After conceding an unfortunate goal just after half-time the team rallied and poured forward in search of an equalizer, this pressure eventually told as Emmanuel Kollie finished from Ken Tribbett’s excellent header just minutes before the end. Although the Union managed to scramble in a late winning goal to secure a fortunate win our future pros left the stadium having proven to themselves and everyone watching they were more than comfortable playing in the very highest company.
3. Mid-Atlantic Division Champions 2 years running!
Each of the top 3 moments in this countdown have a good case for being number 1; that winning the Mid-Atlantic division only makes third spot shows just how successful this season was. After their title winning heroics last year the Nor’easters went into this season knowing that defending that title would be even harder as they faced strong competition from the likes of Reading United, Baltimore Bohemians and Jersey Express in what is quite possibly the strongest division in the entire PDL. This was proven throughout the season as the Nor’easters were continually forced to push themselves to even greater heights and stronger performances to stay clear of the chasing pack. The players thrived under these challenges as they put together run after run of fantastic performances before sealing the title in front of the Ocean City support against title rivals Reading United with a hard-fought 2-1 victory. To win such a difficult division two years running is a fantastic achievement for the club and really illustrates the solid foundations on which the club is able to build upon for the future.
2. National Finals
After their success in the Mid-Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference Finals the Nor’easters qualified for the National PDL Finals for the first time in their history. The finals took place in Austin, Texas with the Nor’easters taking on hosts Austin Aztex in the semi’s, a team coached by Paul Dalglish, son of Liverpool legend Kenny. Playing on an unfamiliar turf surface in triple digit heat the Nor’easters started brightly with Dwayne Reid and Zoncher Dennis both forcing great saves from the Aztex keeper to ensure the game remained goalless at half-time, this was how it remained until the 69th minute when Sito Seoane unleashed a fierce volley from the edge of the penalty box to put the Aztex ahead. Despite late pressure from the Nor’easters which saw Tribbett, Tweneboa and Kollie all go close more heroics from the Aztex goalkeeper ensured their passage into the finals, where they would beat Thunder Bay 3-1 to seal the national title. Despite the disappointment of defeat, the Finals weekend was a great experience for everyone at the club; Austin were fantastic hosts and the players got a taste for an event the Nor’easters will hope to be attending much more in the coming years.
1. Champions in the East
Despite the glory of the Mid-Atlantic Division win, the Open Cup run and the experience of playing in the National Finals, number one spot on our countdown has to go to winning the Eastern Conference title in front of our home support in Ocean City. After falling in the semi-finals last year this year’s Nor’easters went even better, beating last year’s champions Carolina Dynamo on penalties in the semi-finals before sealing the title with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Northeast Division Champions Ottawa Fury. The final itself was a testimony to all things good about the Nor’easters organization as fast, exciting and attacking soccer on the field was roared on by hundreds of Nor’easters fans in a packed out Carey Stadium. After early goals from Reid, Tweneboa and Max Tassano put the Nor’easters in the driving seat the team saw out the game comfortably with only an Ottawa free-kick just before half-time providing them with cause for concern. At the final whistle the celebrations began in earnest as fans, players and staff toasted the quality of the team throughout what must go down as one the greatest seasons in franchise history.
There you have it, our top 11 highlights for the 2013 Nor’easters season, with so many to choose from we’re sure every single fan will ave many others of their own they feel should have made the list! However, what’s beyond doubt is that next year will have even more highlights as the team look to defend their Eastern Conference and Mid-Atlantic Divisions titles whilst looking to go even further in the Open Cup and National Championships. #thestormiscoming.
Photos Courtesy of Ben Fogletto, Press of AC, Paul Rudderow and OC Nor'easters