Yannik Oettl (UCF), Jahmali Waite (UConn) headline exceptional crop of netminders
One of the most consistent positions for the Ocean City Nor'easters in the club's 25 years has been at goalkeeper. Under first-year head coach Alan McCann, that tradition will continue for the 2021 USL League Two season.
With a new coach, that means a new group of goalkeepers, headlined by two of them who are seniors playing at major Division I programs. The two most experienced keepers, Yannik Oettl (Central Florida / Munich, Germany) and Jahmali Waite (Connecticut / Philadelphia, PA), will battle for the starting job along with a trio of outstanding, up-and-coming young goalkeepers in Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA), Michael Webber (Bowdoin College / Natick, MA) and Tristan Stephani (Holy Cross / Norfolk, MA).
These netminders will be a big part of a strong defensive unit that will aim to bring a championship to Ocean City, N.J., America’s Greatest Family Resort in 2021.
The 2021 USL League Two season kicks off on May 12 with a road game against Real Central Jersey. The Nor’easters’ home opener will be on Sunday, May 23 against West Chester United. Check out the schedule here to start planning your trip to the Beach House this summer! (Ticket info)
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Owen Elliott (Penn State / Philadelphia, PA)
Owen Elliott returns to South Jersey after two seasons playing for Penn State, one of the top teams in the Big Ten Conference. After redshirting his first year (2019), Elliott saw action in three games this past season for the nationally-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Among those games, Elliott made his college soccer debut in a road win over Rutgers. He also came off the bench to help earn a win over Ohio State.
Elliott spent nine seasons with Nor'easters partner club South Jersey Elite Barons (SJEB) while also attending Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia where he helped the school win a state championship in 2017. (Pending league approval)
Yannik Oettl (Central Florida / Munich, Germany)
Since winning the starting job with the University of Central Florida in his sophomore season, Yannik Oettl has arguably been the best goalkeeper in The American Conference. After leading the Golden Knights to an 8-3-1 record and the program's first American Conference championship, Oettl racked up a 0.48 goals against average (5 goals allowed in 10 games), a 0.912 save percentage (3rd best in the nation) and six clean sheets (tied for 5th most in the nation), which (surprising to no one) was enough to earn him a third straight American Conference Goalkeeper of the Year award. UCF, who has qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of the last three years, enters this year's postseason ranked No. 18 in the country. They defeated No. 17 James Madison 2-1 to earn themselves a date with No. 2 Pittsburgh in the Round of 16 (scheduled for May 6).
Tristan Stephani (Holy Cross / Norfolk, MA)
Stephani is the youngest of the 2021 goalkeeper unit, coming to Ocean City from the Boston Bolts academy team. Stephani has spent the majority of his youth soccer career playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. He began at the Under-14 level playing for the New England Revolution academy team. He would win two Massachusetts State Cup titles (2016, 2018) and the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup title (2016) with NEFC before joining the Boston Bolts MLS Next team in 2018 where he has remained for the last three seasons. Stephani has committed to playing college soccer at Holy Cross in the fall. (Pending league approval)
Jahmali Waite (Connecticut / Philadelphia, PA)
Waite spent the first three years of his college career at Fairleigh Dickinson where he was named to the Northeast Conference's All-Rookie Team as a freshman and then was a two-time All-NEC selection as a sophomore and a junior. Waite transferred to the University of Connecticut and won the starting job this past season, which was limited to just eight games. Waite is planning to return to UConn next season, taking advantage of the NCAA allowing student athletes an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last season (2019), Waite was the main starter for Nor'easters rival Reading United AC, starting eight games and only allowing six goals, posting a 0.75 goals against average and earning six consecutive clean sheets. His shutout streak lasted 577 minutes.
Michael Webber (Bowdoin College / Natick, MA)
Webber comes to Ocean City after playing his freshman year as the main starter at Bowdoin College, an NCAA Division III school in Brunswick, Maine. Webber started 11 games and held a 0.86 goals against average and led the conference in saves per game (4.92) and had the 5th best save percentage (.843) in the conference. (Pending league approval)