Simon Becher, Gilbert Waso each score two goals as Ocean City wraps up 2021 regular season
Photo by Jack Verdeur (IG: @jack_verdeur)
The Ocean City Nor'easters wrapped up the 2021 USL League Two regular season with a 6-0 road win over the Philadelphia Lone Star FC.
Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT) and Gilbert Waso (Elizabethtown / Elizabethtown, PA) led Ocean City with two goals each. Becher finishes the regular season as the Storm's leading scorer with 11.
Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) chipped in his fourth goal of the season, along with his team-leading sixth assist. Alex Andersson (Colorado - Colorado Springs / Helsingborg, Sweden) rounded out the scoring with his first goal of the campaign.
Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA) made his fourth straight start and earned the win, while Michael Webber (Bowdoin College / Natick, MA) came off the bench to complete the Nor'easters' seventh shutout, which ties a single-season club record.
The win extends the Storm's road unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2), dating back to the 2019 season, and the club hasn't lost a season finale since 2014 (4-0-2).
Ocean City's focus now shifts to the USL League Two playoffs which begin this weekend (July 16-18) at a venue that has yet to be announced. In their first trip to the tournament since 2016 (when they reached the national semifinals), Ocean City will either begin the Eastern Conference playoffs in Ludlow, Mass., home of the Northeast Division champion Western Mass Pioneers, or Leesburg, Va., home of the Northern Virginia FC, who finished in third place behind the Nor'easters and failed to qualify for the postseason.
The Nor'easters finish the regular season with a number of team accomplishments. The Storm scored 40 goals this season which is the most in a season since 2005 (47 in 16 games, 2.94 goals per game). On a goals per game basis (2.86), it was the second-highest mark in the club's USL League Two history behind the 2005 team.
The Storm also allowed just 12 goals all season, which is a club record for a 14-game schedule (which began in 2013). The team's goals against average of 0.86 is the 3rd best in club history behind the 2004 (0.79) and 2012 (0.81) teams.
The Nor'easters controlled the game from the start, creating three clear scoring chances before opening the scoring in the 18th minute. Theo Quartey delivered a corner kick toward the near post and Simon Becher ran onto it and flicked it to the far post and into the back of the net. It was Quartey's sixth assist of the season, which is tied for the second-most in the league. It would also prove to be the game-winning goal, which was the fifth of the season for Becher.
Ocean City didn't take their foot off the gas, as they continued to put the pressure on. The pressure created turnovers, which then created three more scoring chances over the next five minutes, forcing a couple of saves from Philadelphia goalkeeper Goodwill Agbaadem.
In the 23rd minute, that pressure paid off as the Nor'easters suffered a foul just outside the penalty area and Quartey stepped up and buried a free kick goal with his right foot. It was his fourth goal of the season, third most on the team. The Villanova standout finished with four goals and six assists for 14 points in 11 games, making him the second-leading scorer on the team.
In the 39th minute, another giveaway by the Lone Star deep in their territory led to a chance by Becher. A Philadelphia player was unable to control a throw-in, which fell right to Becher just inside the penalty box. He turned, brought the ball to his right foot and ripped a shot that was saved by the keeper at close range.
Two more scoring chances, including a another steal off a throw-in, that led to Quartey forcing a save from the Philadelphia netminder and the Storm went into the halftime break with a 2-0 lead and a defense that had not allowed a shot on goal.
The pressure continued in the second half as Ocean City added to their lead in the 50th minute. After a long throw-in from near the corner flag on the right wing, the ball was headed toward goal and pinballed around until it found the foot of Alex Andersson who pounded it into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
In the 67th minute, the Nor'easters peppered the Philadelphia goal with shots until it paid off. After creating three scoring chances and forcing multiple saves from the goalkeeper in a 90 second span, an outlet pass was stolen by Gilbert Waso on the right wing and he immediately delivered a cross that found a wide open Becher who headed home his team-leading 11th goal of the campaign. His 11 goals are tied for third-most in the league.
Four minutes later, Waso stole the ball in Philadelphia's third of the field, dribbled in on the right side of the field and fired a low-driving shot that careemed off the far post and into the net. It was the first goal of the season for the former Elizabethtown College star.
Two minutes later, Waso would have his second. Josh Bolma (Maryland / Accra, Ghana), who was in the starting lineup in his Nor'easters debut, stole the ball and fed the ball to Waso on the right side of the box and he beat the keeper to score the sixth and final goal of the night.
It could have been seven after a Philadelphia player was sent off on a foul in the box. Becher stepped up to take the penalty kick but Agbaadem made the save on the PK. It was Agbaadem's 11th save of the night as Philadelphia finished the season 5-9-0, while the Nor'easters were able to avenge their first loss of the season back on June 23.
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