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Neville Morgan named Nor'easters MVP, Defensive Player of the Year

2021 team award winners also include Simon Becher, Theo Quartey, Tyler Watson, Caden Stafford, Kasper Skraep

Neville Morgan named Nor'easters MVP, Defensive Player of the Year

The Ocean City Nor'easters just completed the club's 24th season, 18th as a member of USL League Two. Ocean City finished with a 9-2-3 regular season record, the best mark since the 2013 campaign. The Storm finished in second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division and qualified for the USL League Two playoffs for the first time since 2016 under first-year head coach Alan McCann.

This is the 15th season where the Nor'easters have given out team awards, a tradition that began in 2006 when Jeremy Ortiz (La Salle) was named the team's MVP.

With the Nor'easters boasting the club's best offensive season (40 goals) and best defensive season (12 goals allowed) in several years, the 2021 team awards were a difficult decision. 

Neville Morgan (Lindsey Wilson / Westmoreland, Jamaica) was named the Nor'easters' 2021 Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Morgan becomes the second player in club history to win both of those team awards in the same season, joining Shawn McLaws (Coastal Carolina) from the 2014 team.

Leading scorer Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT) was an easy decision for the team's Offensive Player of the Year, while Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana), the team's leading assist man was named the Creative Player of the Year. Tyler Watson (Cumberland / Simi Valley, CA) was the team's Breakthrough Player of the Year while Caden Stafford (Maryland / Cincinnatus, NY) was the Young Player of the Year. The team's Nor'easter Award winner, given to a player's performances both on and off the field, was given to Kasper Skraep (Coastal Carolina / Nyborg, Denmark).

Here are the 2021 Nor'easters team award winners:

Neville Morgan - Most Valuable Player / Defensive Player of the Year

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)

Neville Morgan (Lindsey Wilson / Westmoreland, Jamaica) was a mainstay on the Nor'easters backline from the very first game of the season as Ocean City had arguably one of the best defensive performances in club history. The Storm allowed just 12 goals and broke the club record for goals against average over a 14-game regular season with 0.86 and tied the single-season club record for clean sheets with seven. (The record was set in 2004 over an 18-game season) Including the Nor'easters' 1-0 opening round playoff win over the Boston Bolts, it was just the second time that Ocean City had ever had eight shutouts in a single campaign across all competitions (2009 team had nine, including the US Open Cup and playoffs). 

The most impressive defensive stat from the Nor'easters' defense this year was just how much they shut down opposing offenses. Not just the clean sheets, but the number of shots on goal they allowed. The Nor'easters goalkeepers registered just 23 saves for the entire 14-game regular season, which shattered the club record for fewest saves in a campaign. Seven of the 14 games featured one or less saves, including the last five games of the regular season, where the Ocean City netminders did not make a single save.

Morgan also contributed on the offensive end as well, making runs down the wing to put pressure on opposing teams. He had two assists on the season. Morgan assisted on Caden Stafford's goal in the 67th minute in a 3-0 home win over Lehigh Valley United on June 27, and then added another when he delivered the pass to Tyler Watson in the 47th minute in a 5-0 home win over Real Central New Jersey on July 2.

Considering the size of the Nor'easters' 2021 roster with 39 different players seeing action during the campaign, the fact that Morgan led the team in regular season minutes played (1,060) spoke to how valuable he was. Morgan was the only player to play more than 1,000 minutes and he was one of three players (Kasper Skraep, Simon Becher) to play in 12 games. Morgan also started both playoff games, including the 1-0 win over the Boston Bolts in Leesburg, Va.

"Neville was fantastic all summer," said Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann. "He's ready to play as a pro right now and is a fantastic character guy off the field too."

Morgan finished his senior season at Lindsey Wilson last year by holding down the outside back position for the Blue Raiders. The NAIA powerhouse were knocked off in the Mid-South Semifinals, but managed to earn an at-large bid into the NAIA tournament. After two opening round wins over a pair of Top 25 teams, the tournament run would come to an end, 3-2 against the University of the Cumberlands.

Morgan started all 16 games and led the team with a career-high eight assists. Which is impressive for a defender. What’s also impressive is that he played the whole season and only committed four fouls (second-fewest on the team). Morgan was named to the All-Mid-South Conference team for the second year in a row. In his junior year, he was an NAIA All-American Third Team selection and was named the MSC Defensive Player of the Year.

Simon Becher - Offensive Player of the Year

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)


Often times, giving the leading scorer the Offensive Player of the Year award is a little too easy. But in 2021, it was the kind of goals that Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT) scored that led him to the award.

Becher led the Nor'easters with 11 regular season goals, and added one more in the playoffs to finish with 12 in 14 games across all competitions. Out of those 12 goals, six of them were game-winning goals, the most of any player in USL League Two.

"Simon has lead from the front as captain and as our top goalscorer despite missing two of the first three games," said McCann. "He's produced consistently in the big moments and this is exactly what the professional clubs will be looking for in a striker."

Becher made his season debut in the second game of the season when he came off the bench on May 19. After replacing MD Myers in the 65th minute, Becher scored his first goal, a rebound off a saved PK, in the 75th minute. The St. Louis Billiken would add another goal in the 80th minute and complete his hat trick in the 85th minute to give him the fastest hat trick in Nor'easters club history. Becher also became the first Ocean City player to come off the bench to score a hat trick.

On June 5, Becher would start his first game of the season on the road against Northern Virginia FC. He would score two goals, including the game-winner in the 46th minute in a 3-2 win. With five goals scored in 120 minutes of game play at that point of the season, he had established himself as a starter and would not relinquish that spot in the Starting XI for the rest of the season.

Becher would score a goal in each of the next two games, including the game-winner at home against Philadelphia Lone Star on June 9 as the Nor'easters had one of the best starts in club history with an eight-game unbeaten streak (5-0-3).

Becher finished the season strong. In the final five regular season games, scoring three goals (all game-winners), while helping the Nor'easters punch their ticket to the playoffs. In the postseason, he played all 180 minutes of both games, and scored the a clutch, game-winning penalty kick in the 76th minute against the Boston Bolts in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.



He finished with 11 regular season goals, which was tied for third in USL League Two. Being the leading scorer on the second-highest scoring team in the league (40 goals in 14 games, 2.85 goals per game) is a good reason to be Ocean City's Offensive Player of the Year.

Becher comes back to the East Coast from St. Louis University where he was the Billikens’ leading scorer and a first-team All-Atlantic-10 selection this past season. In his sophomore year, he scored a pair of goals in an injury-shortened season. Prior to transferring to SLU, Becher played his freshman season at Holy Cross where he was an all-conference selection and he led the Crusaders in goals (7). Before that, he spent time in the U.S. Development Academy (Oakwood SC) and was called up to the U.S. Under-20 national team’s training camp on three separate occasions.

Theo Quartey - Creative Player of the Year

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)

If there was an offensive attack by the Ocean City Nor'easters during the 2021 season, there was a pretty good chance Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) was involved. Whether handling set pieces, linking play between the backline and the forwards or creating chances for other attacking players, Quartey was named the Nor'easters' 2021 Creative Player of the Year.

"Theo was a big part in many of our decisive goals this season," said McCann. "Either getting an assist or being heavily involved in the build up of it. Those moments that unlock tight games is what he can bring to a game and will definitely help when clubs are looking for a winger if his profile. He's also been a big leader off the field."

Quartey finished the season as the club's second-leading scorer with four goals and six assists (14 points) in 11 games. His six assists were not only the top mark on the Ocean City roster, but was tied for third-most in the league. He scored or assisted on three game-winning goals this season.

He started his season with a pair of assists in his Ocean City debut during the club's season opener on May 12. He assisted on Bakary Bagayoko's goal in the 49th minute and Kyle Galloway's 75th minute goal that put the game away in a 3-0 road win over Real Central New Jersey. After adding another assist in the next game, a 7-0 road win over Lehigh Valley United, Quartey scored a dramatic game-winning goal in a 2-1 home win against eventual division champion West Chester United.

After a scoreless draw with Reading United, Quartey assisted on Simon Becher's game-winning goal in a 3-2 road win over Northern Virginia FC on June 5. He would show his composure from the penalty spot, scoring a goal in a 2-2 draw with Northern Virginia FC on June 13. He would add two more assists the rest of the season and another penalty kick goal to make him the club's second leading scorer behind Becher.

Quartey made the journey from Ghana to the Philadelphia area and made an immediate impact in his freshman year at Villanova. Quartey scored three goals and had two assists and was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. His role grew throughout his four seasons with the Wildcats. In a COVID-shortened senior season, he played in eight games, scoring two goals, both of them coming in a 4-1 Senior Day win over UConn.

After graduating from Villanova, Quartey will be joining Nor'easters teammate Olle Kaissidis as a grad transfer at North Carolina Greensboro.



Tyler Watson - Breakthrough Player of the Year

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)

Unfortunately, players who come from smaller colleges don't receive the same amount of attention and media coverage, but the Nor'easters organization has shown for nearly a quarter of a century that there is a wealth of talent at those programs. Tyler Watson (Cumberland / Simi Valley, CA) is an excellent example of that as he shined in his first season in Ocean City, playing in 10 regular season games, a playoff game, while scoring three goals and dishing out two assists.

With a huge roster of players, many of them from NCAA Division I programs, Watson was one of the most consistent performers out of the Ocean City midfield and has been named the team's 2021 Breakthrough Player of the Year.

"Watson came in as a fairly unknown name nationally but after his performances this summer he's proven that he can not only perform consistently at an elite level but he can excel at it," said Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann. "It will be interesting to see what professional opportunities show up after the college season for him."

Watson made an immediate impact, by nearly scoring the first goal of the 2021 campaign. He, along with college teammate Bakary Bagayoko, both crashed the net for a loose ball in the 4th minute of the season opener and in the end Watson touched the ball over to Bagayoko who scored the opening goal in a 3-0 road win over Real Central New Jersey.

Watson followed his impressive debut with another one in the second game of the season, scoring two goals in a 7-0 road win over Lehigh Valley United. He started and he helped the Nor'easters to a 2-1 home win over undefeated West Chester United to close out the month of May.

Those three performances combined, and a perfect 3-0-0 team record, was enough for him to earn him a spot on the USL League Two Team of the Month. He would add his third goal in a 5-0 home win over Real Central New Jersey on July 2, followed by his third assist on Kyle Galloway's goal in a 5-2 road win over Reading United AC on July 6.

Even when he wasn't on the scoresheet, he was a big part of the Nor'easters midfield, breaking up passes and setting up teammates to create scoring chances. He also started and played 88 minutes in the Storm's 1-0 playoff win over the Boston Bolts in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.



Watson, a California native, came to Ocean City from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. He was an All-Mid-South Conference (MSC) selection in each of his first three years with the Phoenix program. He was named an All-MSC selection and the conference Freshman of the Year, with nine goals and five assists in 20 games. He led the team in scoring as a sophomore (9 goals, 6 assists) and earned another all-conference selection.

This past season, injuries cut an already abbreviated campaign short as Watson played in just three games and scored two goals and was still an All-MSC Second Team selection. That just shows how much respect the voters from the Mid-South Conference have for his talent.

Caden Stafford - Young Player of the Year

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)

There were a couple of teenagers who saw the field for the Nor'easters during the 2021 USL League Two season, so there was definitely some competition for Ocean City's Young Player of the Year award.

The one that made the most immediate impact was Caden Stafford (Maryland / Cincinnatus, NY). Stafford scored a goal and dished out two assists in six games (including two playoff games), but he didn't make his Ocean City debut until the 10th game of the season.

In that first game, he wasted no time in making his presence known. Stafford came off the bench in the 56th minute against Lehigh Valley United on June 27 at the Beach House, and started putting pressure on the opponents' backline. A little more than 10 minutes into his debut, he scored his first goal on an assist from Neville Morgan. A little more than 20 minutes into his debut, he assisted on a goal, setting up Austin DaSilva for the the third goal of the match in a 3-0 win over United.

Stafford's performance off the bench earned him a start in the team's next match, a home game against Real Central New Jersey on July 2. About 25 minutes into the game, he produced another goal, setting up DaSilva again for the first his three goals on the night in a 5-0 win.

Stafford would start the final two games of the regular season and helped the Nor'easters finish in second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division and earn the club's first playoff berth since 2016.

"Caden came into the season late but made an instant impact," said McCann. "Being only 17, there's a bright future for him and it will be interesting to see the impact he will have at Maryland this semester."

Stafford came to Ocean City after an impressive youth soccer career that eventually brought him to the Philadelphia Union Academy. There he earned playing time, and scored goals for the Philadelphia Union 2. Stafford has committed to the University of Maryland, a school that has won three national titles (2005, 2008, 2018) and hasn't missed the NCAA tournament since 2000. 



Kasper Skraep - Nor'easter Award winner

Kasper Skraep (Coastal Carolina / Nyborg, Denmark) was one of the anchors for an Ocean City defense that put up record numbers during the 2021 season. However, it was his performance off the field, combined with that outstanding on-field form that has earned him the 2021 Nor'easter Award.

As mentioned earlier, the Nor'easters had arguably the best defensive performance in club history in 2021. The Storm allowed just 12 goals and broke the club record for goals against average over a 14-game regular season with 0.86 and tied the single-season club record for clean sheets with seven (eight including the playoffs).

Graphic by Catta Design (IG: @catta_dsgn)

The most impressive defensive stat from the Nor'easters' defense this year was just how much they shut down opposing offenses. Not just the clean sheets, but the number of shots on goal they allowed. The Nor'easters goalkeepers registered just 23 saves for the entire 14-game regular season, which shattered the club record for fewest saves in a campaign. Seven of the 14 games featured one or fewer saves, including the last five games of the regular season, where the Ocean City netminders did not make a single save.

Skraep played in almost every game, finishing second on the team in minutes played (behind Neville Morgan) with 952, and he was one of three players who played in 14 games (including the playoffs) this year. He also contributed on the offensive end, assisting on Anthony Herbert's goal in the 27th minute in Ocean City's 5-2 road win over Reading United AC on July 6. 

"Kasper has pushed through injury and fatigue in games all for the good of the team this year," said McCann. "His training habits and off-the-field habits have been fantastic. He's been a constant at the back throughout the season and is well-deserving of the award."

The other half of the award was Skraep's off-the-field performance as the Nor'easters take a lot of pride in the club's involvement with the community. Skraep's enthusiasm and dedication to community events and team appearances was contagious and made the season even more rewarding.

In college, Skraep was an anchor on the Coastal Carolina defense that helped the school qualify for the NCAA tournament. After earning a starting job immediately as a freshman in 2019, Skraep was one of two players to start all 16 games this past season, finishing second in minutes played and scoring three goals (tied for second-most on the team). His last goal came in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in a 3-2 loss to Wake Forest (Nor’easters alum Claudio Repetto scored the other goal for Coastal Carolina).

Coastal finished ranked in the Top 25 and winning the Sun Belt’s regular season title earned them its 10th tournament berth since 2010. Straep also got a special opportunity as he was called up to train with Denmark's senior national team.

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