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Preview: Nor'easters host Lehigh Valley looking to start new win streak

Ocean City trying to bounce back from first loss of season, close gap on first place West Chester United

Preview: Nor'easters host Lehigh Valley looking to start new win streak

The Ocean City Nor'easters will host Lehigh Valley United in a Sunday evening matchup at Carey Stadium ("The Beach House") in Ocean City, N.J., America's Greatest Family Resort.

The Nor'easters are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season this past Wednesday and begin a new unbeaten streak. Ocean City lost a narrow 2-1 decision to Philadelphia Lone Star FC. After giving up two early goals, Akeim Clarke (North Carolina / Windsor, CT) came on as a sub at halftime and scored his first Ocean City goal within a minute of stepping on the field. Despite numerous chances, the Storm were unable to find an equalizer and the club's 15-game unbeaten streak and the 13-game home unbeaten streak both came to an end.

The Nor'easters (5-1-3) are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and even a division title. They trail West Chester United by eight points, but have two games in hand and will play them one more time at the Beach House on July 9. To stay in the hunt for that division title they will need a win over Lehigh Valley United on Sunday night.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance on the Nor'easters website, and at the Carey Stadium gate with cash or with a smartphone. There are four different groups who get free tickets to all remaining regular season home games: Soccer coaches of all levels, Ocean City Primary School students and players from the South Jersey Elite Barons and New Jersey Surf.

For fans unable to make it out to the Beach House, the Nor'easters are partnering with BFA Productions to provide a live video stream of all home games for the 2021 season. Local broadcast veteran Mike Frankel will handle the play-by-play duties. A link to the online broadcast will be posted on the Nor'easters social media accounts (NOTE: Do not click on any live stream links that are not posted by the Ocean City Nor'easters or USL League Two. There are online spam accounts that post fake links on social media)

The last time these two teams met was Ocean City's second game of the 2021 season in Bethlehem, Pa. when the Nor'easters dominated United, 7-0. It was the Storm's biggest road win in franchise history as the team received goals from MD Myers (High Point / Delran, NJ), Luis Grassow (Kentucky / Munich, Germany), a pair of goals from Tyler Watson (Cumberland / Simi Valley, CA) and a second half hat trick from substitute Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT). Becher, who enters Sunday night's game as the club's leading scorer with seven (tied for third-most in the league), became the 12th different Ocean City player to a score three goals in a game. Becher also made history that night by scoring the fastest hat trick in club history as he scored all three goals in about a 10 minute span.

Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) leads the team in assists with four. The defensive unit for the Nor'easters has been excellent, led by the two main goalkeepers for Ocean City. Jahmali Waite (UConn / Philadelphia, PA) has received the majority of the minutes with a 3-1-2 record with three shutouts and a 0.92 goals against average. Yannik Oettl (Central Florida / Munich, Germany), the reigning three-time American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year (2-0-1) has played in three matches and also has an impressive GAA (0.80).

HIGHLIGHTS: Ocean City Nor'easters vs. Lehigh Valley United (May 19, 2021)

Lehigh Valley United (2-7-0) comes into Sunday's match at the bottom of the Mid-Atlantic Division. After beating the defending Eastern Conference champions in Reading United in the second game of the season, the Nor'easters delivered that 7-0 loss on United's home field. That was the first of five straight losses, scoring just two goals during those games and giving up 18. They snapped that losing streak with a 3-1 home win over Real Central New Jersey on June 7 and a 1-1 draw against Northern Virginia two days later. However, their last outing on Saturday, June 19 saw them fall 2-1 on the road against Real Central New Jersey.

LVU brings a balanced attack to the Beach House with four different players leading the team in scoring with two goals: Belal Mohamed, Douglas Goita, Colby Raymond, and Perry Kingson.

United is entering its 11th season as a franchise. United had a really challenging first two years in the league. United won just a single game in 2015 and upped that total to three in 2016. They won four games in 2017, but the club took a step back in 2018 with just one win. In 2019, they took a step forward and won four games (and earned three draws) in one of the toughest divisions in the league.

The club joined USL League Two after five years in the National Premier Soccer League where they won the league championship in 2012 and made the playoffs in four of the five seasons, including two appearances in the national final four.

In 2019, LVU and Ocean City split the season series with the Nor'easters falling to Lehigh Valley for just the second time in club history, 2-0 on the road. The Storm bounced back with a 4-3 home win.

Ocean City leads the all-time series 10-2-0 and have never lost to LVU at the Beach House (5-0-0).

The Nor'easters will be following the state's COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of everyone attending Sunday's game and throughout the entire season. The state of New Jersey does not have a capacity limit for venues like Carey Stadium at this time, and fans are not required to wear masks in an outdoor setting, but anyone who is not vaccinated is encouraged to wear a mask in any indoor setting such as bathrooms. For more information on the New Jersey Department of Health's guidance, please click HERE.

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