Evergreen Hammers visit the Beach House on Friday and Sunday as Ocean City begins defense of Eastern Conference title
The Ocean City Noreasters will open the 2017 Premier Development League (PDL) season this weekend with two home games on Friday, May 19 and Sunday, May 21. Both games will take place at Carey Stadium against division rival Evergreen Hammers FC.
The Nor’easters enter the 2017 campaign as the reigning PDL Eastern Conference champions and the club aims to build on last year's success under first-year head coach John Thompson.
Last year, Ocean City finished with a 9-5-0 regular season record, which was good enough for second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division and earned them a spot in the PDL Playoffs. Under head coach Tim Oswald, who has since become the club's Sporting Director, the club flipped the switch in the postseason, defeating three division champions before falling to Calgary Foothills FC in the PDL Final Four. There were some strong individual performances last year, headlined by Chevaughn "Chevy" Walsh, who became the first Ocean City player to lead the league in scoring and the second to be named the PDL MVP. Nathan Regis was also named to the All-Conference team while being tied for the league lead with nine assists.
The team is hoping a pair of strong performances in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will create some momentum heading into the league schedule. The Nor'easters defeated Junior Lone Star FC 3-1 in Round 1, and just two days ago, held a professional team, the USL's Harrisburg City Islanders to a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes. Unfortunately, the club's run in the tournament came to an end 6-5 in a penalty kick shootout.
The two impressive performances in the US Open Cup were a good sign for Coach Thompson since the team had very little time to prepare before the tournament started.
“With such short preparation time we need to spend the next two weeks getting the players on the same page with each other,” said Thompson. “If we focus on the next opponent every week we won't have our own identity.”
This weekend's opponent is the Evergreen Hammers who are based out of Leesburg, Va. The team finished the 2016 PDL season with a 2-4-8 record. They opened their season with a 2-0 loss to FA Euro this past Saturday.
The series between the two clubs dates back to the 2004 season when Evergreen FC were known as the Northern Virginia Royals. In fact, when they first met, it was on July 4, 2004 when the Royals were a professional team, but due to a strange scheduling issue, many PDL teams had teams from the Pro Soccer League (now known as the USL) added to their league schedule to count as regular-season games. Despite professional opposition, Ocean City (then known as the South Jersey Barons) kept their undefeated season alive with a 3-1 win. Ruben Mingo, Justin Sadler and Brian Devlin all scored that day. (All three players later moved on to play professional soccer)
Including last year's three-game sweep of the Hammers, the Nor'easters have never lost to Evergreen FC, leading the all-time series 7-0-1.
The Hammers will be happy to see Chevy Walsh playing for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Last year, he made Ocean City history by being the first player to score two hat tricks in a single season. And he scored both of them on the road against Evergreen FC. The Nor'easters won both games on the road against the Hammers, and another at home by a combined score of 12-2.
The matches will serve has the home openers for the team will be played on the new turf at The Beach House at Ocean City High School. Kickoff for both games will be 7 p.m. and all general admission tickets are $10.
Fans who can't make it out to Carey Stadium this weekend can listen to the action on 91.7FM WLFR or listen online at WLFR.fm (Just click the "LISTEN LIVE" button on the left and follow the instructions)