Ocean City, NJ -
On the Pitch
The reigning Eastern Conference champion Ocean City Nor’easters rounded out their 2014 Premier Development League campaign with a 7-5-2 record, good for 4th place in the PDL Mid-Atlantic Division. Ocean City’s overall PDL record improved to an impressive 105-47-40, the 6th best overall record in PDL history, and one that rivals the PDL’s most elite clubs; The Austin Aztex, Ocala Stampede, Reading United, and 2014 USL PDL Champion Michigan Bucks. Over the past three seasons, the Nor’easters have racked up 290 total points, placing them in good company at the top of the PDL in another key category. Since 2003, The Storm boast the PDL’s 6th best home record (57-21-19), a testament to the strong support of the Nor’easters faithful who pack Carey Stadium on warm summer evenings at the shore.
Head Coach Tim Oswald lead Ocean City to his 31st victory as manager in 2014, pushing him ever-closer to the rarified air of former head coach Neil Holloway, whose 34 victories at the helm in Ocean City set club and USLPDL records for most wins ever by a manager.
In a pair of hard-fought matches versus the 2014 division champion and eventual Eastern Conference Champion Jersey Express, the Nor’easters struggled to find the back of the net and to contain the Express’ leading scorer and Mid-Atlantic Division points leader Walter Hines. Ocean City were defeated by the Express by a combined six goals.
In two of Ocean City’s most thrilling matches of the season, both against their biggest rival, Reading United, the Nor’easters came away with one positive result. Following a heartbreaking 73rd-minute concession on the road in their first matchup, The Storm gritted their way to a 1-1 draw against their archrival on the final match of the season at the Beach House, extending their all-time record between the Mid-Atlantic Division powerhouses to 18-12-7.
The Nor’easters back line anchored by skipper Shawn McLaws, and outstanding goalkeepers Eric Klenofsky and Borja Angoitia held the opposition scoreless on two occasions in 2014, posting shut-outs against Baltimore and NJ LUSO in which their opponents could only muster a combined eight shots on goal in those matchups.
Offensively, Ocean City had its most prolific performance in a 4-1 victory on the road against NJ LUSO in June, highlighted by a brace of unassisted goals from Aaron Dennis, one from Jason Plumhoff, and capped off by Ben Maurey, assisted by Mitch Grotti.
37 different Nor’easters saw action this season with Shawn McLaws leding the way in the total-minutes-played category with 1,101 in fourteen matches. Lethal goal-scorer Zoncher Dennis contributed four goals to the 2014 campaign, giving the veteran striker the team lead in both goals-scored and total points. Zoncher finished the 2014 season with an incredible 17 career goals and 39 total points, good for 4th in Nor’easters history in both categories. Frank Tweneboa, Jason Plumhoff and Mitch Grotti lead the team in assists with two apiece.
At goalie, on of Ocean City’s deepest positions in 2014, Colin Webb led the Nor’easters in saves with 32 on the season, while The Storm’s other goalies, Borja Angoitia and Eric Klenofsky, each earned one clean sheet in net, tying for the team lead.
Several Nor’easters were named to the PDL’s national Team of the Week for outstanding individual performances throughout the 2014 season. Midfielder Jason Plumhoff was the only Nor’easter to earn a nod to the First-Team this season, and also won Honorable Mention one time. Zoncher Dennis earned Honorable Mention honors during three separate weeks this summer, and Shawn McLaws’ play earned the captain a spot on the Honorable Mention team on two different occasions. Aaron Dennis, Eric Klenofsky, Frank Tweneboa, and Mitch Grotti each earned Honorable Mention honors one time over the course of the season.
In the Community
The Ocean City Nor’easters relish their vibrant, ever-expanding relationship with the Ocean City, NJ community. The Storm treated 300 fans per game in America’s Greatest Family Resort to themed nights, giveaways, and an inaugural club Hall of Fame induction this past summer.
At halftime of Ocean City’s final home game of the 2014 season against Reading United, nearly 500 pairs of eyes turned to midfield at the Beach House as Nor’easter legend Byron Carmichael, hand-in-hand with his wife and embraced by his young daughter Kelsey, became the inaugural inductee into the Nor’easters Hall of Fame. Carmichael played 113 matches during his eight-year PDL career, totaling 7,975 minutes of action. The former Ocean City star is the club’s leading-scorer and assist-man with 63 career goals and 24 assists. Of his induction, Carmichael graciously thanked his family, the Nor’easters organization, President Giancarlo Granese, former Head Coach and GM Neil Holloway, and the Ocean City fans for providing the star with the opportunity to play at The Beach House, and the honor of being the first inductee into the Nor’easters Hall of Fame.
Charmichael’s induction came on Retro Night this season, where Ocean City Barons supporters’ scarves were given out to the first 150 fans that packed Carey Stadium. On Family Fun Night, all youth in admission received a coupon for one free ride at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Nor’easter’s Official Community Partner, and cheered on team mascot Bobby the Storm Chaser at halftime as he faced-off against the best mascots the Ocean City Boardwalk has to offer in the 5th-Annual Nor’easters Mascot Race.
The Nor’easters hosted another successful season of soccer camps for hundreds of budding soccer stars and beginners alike aged 3-14 this summer. The campers were coached by their favorite Nor’easters players as they learned the fundamentals of the Beautiful Game at The Shore.
The Ocean City Nor’easters, a mainstay in the upper echelon of the Mid-Atlantic Division, will look to improve on a solid 2014 season and return to the top flight of the Premier Development League in 2015. Of the opportunity that lies before The Storm to defend their status as one of the most successful PDL teams in North America, Head Coach Tim Oswald had this to say,
“After consecutive seasons coming out on the top of the table in one of the most talented PDL divisions in the country, the ball didn't bounce our way and the results showed. With that being said, it was a great dose of reality for us after a Final 4 appearance in 2013 and it enhances our focus from top to bottom to get back to that point. We continue to forge positive relationships with some of the very best collegiate programs in the country. We are full steam in ahead and working hard to bring some of the top college talent in the country to the Beach House this summer for another thrilling run.”
Coach Oz also highlighted the recent success that Nor’easters alumni have found in their careers since Ocean City. “We are hopeful some of our alums get drafted in the MLS Superdraft in January,” Oswald said, which demonstrates, “that #path2pro is possible for all players that play in Ocean City.”
Both on the pitch and in the Ocean City Community, the Nor’easters brought an unmatched excitement to The Shore this past summer and will expect to build upon this thrilling Ocean City tradition as the warm sunshine and beautiful beaches draw thousands of soccer fans to America’s Greatest Family Resort in 2015.