Late goal dooms Ocean City, as clubs shifts focus to Sunday's home game vs. Long Island
The Ocean City Nor’easters lost a hard-fought road battle with the Jersey Express Friday night 1-0. The loss drops the Nor’easters to 0-3-0 on the young season.
The Express presented a tough challenge for the Nor’easters, as they sat in third place in the Mid-Atlantic division standings. Led by their veteran leadership and offensive depth, the Express entered the match with each of their four goals having been scored by four different players.
Meanwhile, Ocean City looked to break out of their offensive struggles, having scored just once in their first two games. The Nor’easters have had plenty of chances, but have not been able to find the net. They would have their work cut out for them again, facing 2010 PDL Goalkeeper of the Year Ryan Meara.
Both teams were evenly matched in the first half trying to create chances, but neither team had much luck. Ocean City controlled the ball slightly more than the Express, but could not get any golden opportunities on goal. The teams headed to the locker room with a scoreless draw at the half.
In the second half, it was more of the same. Both teams battled hard, but both teams were also able to shut the door when it mattered. Ocean City’s Giovanni Tacconelli (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Iona) suffered an injury and was forced to leave the game, which prompted Nor’easters head coach Neil Holloway to make some substitutions. The substitutions resulted in some good chances for the Nor’easters. In the 74th minute, captain Terry Gibbs (London, Eng./Bloomfield) booted a free kick from 20 yards out off the crossbar. Then, in the 76th minute, Jidell Roach (Willow Grove, PA/La Salle) played the ball from midfield, streaked down the right side, beat a defender, and put a shot off the outside of the post from 25 yards out.
The contest reached a boiling point in the 81st minute when Joseph Ovensari took a shot, which was saved by Nor’easters goalkeeper Pat Hannigan (Philadelphia, PA/Temple ’04). Ovensari continued to follow through on the shot and the two players got into a heated shoving match, which resulted in both players being assessed a yellow card.
As regulation time ticked down, the Express was finally able to break through in the form of Ansger Otto. In the 89th minute, Shawn Foster sent a cross from the right side into the box. The Ocean City defense let the ball bounce once, giving Otto enough time to put a header over Hannigan and into the back of the net. Being late in the game, the Nor’easters did not have time to recover. Hannigan finished the match with eight saves, while Meara had to make only one for the shutout. The Express improved to 2-1-0 on the year.
“It was a well fought game by both teams,” said Holloway. “It could have gone either way. We will have to regroup now and focus on Sunday.”
Ocean City will continue to look for its first win of the season Sunday, May 29 when they take on the undefeated Long Island Rough Riders at Carey Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.