Ocean City looks to follow up record-breaking season with young, fresh talent
The Ocean City Nor’easters return for 2017 to defend their USL Premier Development League Eastern Conference title and will be doing that with a brand new attacking core of midfielders and forwards. The new roster, assembled by first-year head coach John Thompson, does not feature a single player from last season, but has the same high expectations to follow up on a record-setting offensive unit from a year ago.
One of the biggest signings for the Nor’easters attack is Jamaican forward Akeil Barrett (Kingston, Jamaica / Tulsa - pending league approval), who brings professional experience to the 2017 roster. Barrett, who spent last season with the Swope Park Rangers of the USL, joins the club hoping to fill the goalscoring gap left behind by last year’s PDL MVP Chevaughn Walsh, who signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Barrett started his college career with Akron University before transferring to Tulsa before his sophomore season. With the Golden Hurricane, he scored 20 goals and 14 assists in 54 games. After being selected by Orlando City SC in the Second Round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Barrett later signed with the Jacksonville Armada of the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Armada sold him to Swedish club Pitea IF before he returned stateside before the 2016 season. He signed with the Swope Park Rangers, the USL affiliate of Sporting Kansas City, and helped them win the 2016 USL championship.
“Akeim is an exciting front three player who is dynamic on the ball and runs at defenders, Thompson said. “He will give us a spark and his pace will give defenders problems.”
While no midfielder or forward is returning from last year’s team, Mike Paye (Monrovia, Liberia / Creighton) is the only one with experience playing for the Nor’easters. Paye, played for Ocean City during the 2014 season and made his only appearance of the season in the team’s U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Greek American SC. Unfortunately, he was injured in the game and was unable to play the remainder of the season.
Paye is well-traveled. The Liberian went to high school in North Carolina, was a junior college All-American at Tyler Junior College in Texas before transferring to Creighton University in Nebraska. He played 43 games for the nationally-ranked Blue Jays before graduating after the 2015 season. Paye suffered an injury during his senior season and took time to get healthy and has been training with some pro teams in the offseason.
“As a true ‘6’, Mike has a huge impact on matches in the middle third,” said Tim Oswald, Ocean City’s Sporting Director. “He has an incredibly high pass completion percentage and is a tremendous ball winner in transition.”
The attacking midfield boasts quality from the NAIA in Tyler Collinshaw (Hull, England / Davenport), Alexander Simovic (Belgrade, Serbia / Oklahoma Wesleyan - pending league approval), and Brayant Toro (Cali, Colombia / Hastings College).
Collinshaw is a sophomore forward from Davenport University (Mich.) who scored 12 goals in 25 games in the 2016 season.
“Tyler had an impressive season at Davenport University, leading his team to the NAIA Final four as the team’s creative force,” Thompson said. “He is a threat in the attacking third of the pitch and has an excellent all-around game. He has a mature head and experience in Premier League Academies.”
Simovic is a junior from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, a team that finished the season with a 19-1 record in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“Alex is a smooth and technical footballer who has experience at the youth international level and was the focal point of OWKU’s brilliant possession-based game,” Thompson said. “He is another midfielder with a great all-around game who can beat players off the dribble or with his passing range. Alex has a professional football education and he will bring maturity and experience to the group.”
Toro is a sophomore scored five goals this past season for the Hastings College who won the NAIA national championship this past season.
“Brayant is a center mid with an intense work ethic,” Thompson said. “He was part of a very impressive midfield triangle on Hastings’ NAIA national championship team. He has football experience on three continents and will bring a good blend of creativity and ball winning to the midfield.”
Joining from Georgia State University is English-born central midfielder Max Hemmings (Wokingham, England / Georgia State). Hemmings started 18 games during the 2016 season scoring seven goals and contributing three assists. He was one of the key players during the season for the Panthers who achieved a record of 14-8 and reaching the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Max was second on the team in goals and third in assists.
“Max is a box-to-box central midfielder who has an eye for a pass and has an excellent all-around game,” Thompson said. “He was the focal point of a successful Georgia State University team as a sophomore, and was one of only a couple sophomores to make the All-Conference First Team.”
Junior midfielder, Nicolas Speilman (Melbourne, FL / East Tennessee State), will bolster the midfield in 2017 joining from East Tennessee State University under head coach and former MLS player Bo Oshoniyi. During the 2016 season, Speilman started in three games for the Bucs as they went 12-5-3. This was his first season at ETSU after transferring from Lincoln Memorial University.
“Nick is a physical presence in the middle of the pitch who will bring some steel and grit to the team,” Thompson said. “He has had some bad luck recently with injuries so he is hungry to prove himself at the top level. He moved to East Tennessee State who are an upcoming program in the Division I college soccer scene.”
Sophomore Rob Gillin (Marlton, NJ / Delaware) joins the Nor’easters from the University of Delaware. Gillin started 21 out of the 21 games he played in. During the season Gillin, added one assist for the Blue Hens.
“Rob is an honest, hard working central midfielder who compliments others well and gets the job done consistently in the middle of the field,” said Thompson.
Rounding out the attacking threat is South Jersey native Geoff Scheaffer (Bridgeton, NJ / Monmouth) an attacking midfielder from Monmouth University. Scheaffer is coming off a successful season in his freshmen year for the Hawks. Scheaffer played in 16 games for the team, starting six of them. His season stats consisted of two goals and one assist. Scheaffer was also an All-State and All-South Jersey selection at Woodstown High School.
Two Fairleigh Dickinson University will bring some offensive flair to the Nor’easters with central midfielder Daniel Lasarte (Madrid, Spain / Fairleigh Dickinson - pending league approval). Lasarte, who’s an attacking midfielder from Madrid, Spain, spent his freshmen season with the Knights where he played 16 games with 2.50 shots per game.
“Dan is a creative attacking midfielder who has crafty footwork with the ability to both create and finish, he is very comfortable in possession, and can play deep or in the attacking third,” Thompson said.
Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (Limbe, Haiti / Fairleigh Dickinson). Mompremier is a transfer to the team for the 2017 season and bring an impressive resume with him. He spent the 2016 season at Division II University of Tampa where he scored 13 goals along with four assists, accounting for 30 total points on the season. He was listed on the PDL's "Top 16 College Players to Watch List”.
"Theres there’s a reason why they call Freddy the ‘Haitian Sensation’. Said Thompson. "He’s a strong powerful central striker who will be a handful for opposing defenders with his pace and power, but he has a subtle touch to go with that athleticism.
Another strong addition to lead the line is Ismael Noumansana (Reims, France / Lenor-Ryne). Noumansana is a junior forward from Lenor-Ryne University and scored 17 goals in 19 matches this past season. His performance earned him the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year award. Ismael spent last season with Reading United.
“Ismael had an impressive junior year at Lenor-Ryne,” Thompson said. “He is a strong and pace striker who is great in open play, has the ability to work an angle for the shot and his movement of the ball is intelligent.
West Virginia University Tech attacking midfielders and teammates Francisco Neto (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil / West Virginia Tech) and Ignacio Tellechea (Madrid, Spain / West Virginia Tech) will add a goalscoring punch to the Nor’easters offense. Neto, a junior from Brazil, has scored 14 goals and has 12 assists in 20 games for the Golden Bears. Tellechea has scored 20 goals and 9 assists in 23 games. With their help, Tech reached the Elite Eight of the NAIA tournament last year.
“Francisco is a wide forward who can play on either wing and has the ability to deliver quality balls and get off a shot. He was one of the leading forwards in the NAIA the past two years. I love his creativity and his eye for goalscoring opportunities,” Thompson said. “Ignacio and Francisco have a very good understanding of each other’s game. Ignacio has excellent vision and composure and a feel for the game, plus he is a lefty and will add balance to our attack.”