The Best XI highlights from Ocean City Nor'easters' 2016 season
From starting a women's team to inspiring a beer and reaching the final four, it was an exciting summer
The Ocean City Nor'easters added another successful season to the record books with a 2016 PDL Eastern Conference championship. But what were the biggest moments of the season? We have compiled a list of the Best XI highlights that made it a memorable 2016 campaign in Ocean City.
11: Ocean City Nor’easters Women’s Team Established
Debuting in the Summer of 2016, the Nor'easters Women were established to allow the next generation of top female collegiate and high school players in the area to train and play at the highest level of amateur soccer during the summer.
10: The Blue and Orange Game
The Ocean City Nor’easters hosted the inaugural inter-squad preseason match before the 2016 PDL season. The game emulates the format exhibited in college football spring games, and like a spring game, this allowed fans to come out and see the players in action before the first regular season game. Assistant coaches John Fogarty and Matt Taphorn, selected the teams for the match at Carey Stadium with the Blue team coming out on top over the Orange team, 3-1.
9: Community Outreach
Players and coaches alike are so involved on the pitch, but sometimes it's what they spend their time doing off the pitch that makes an even bigger impact. The Nor’easters are committed to engaging and working with the public and the city of Ocean City itself. A few of those examples included the Nor’easters spring outdoor recreation program as well as traveling to local schools to show young students the rewards of playing the sport of soccer.
8: Nor’easter Ale
Nor’easter Ale was a beer conceived, cared for and bottled this season by local brewer Tuckahoe Brewing Company. Tuckahoe was founded by a trio of local coaches, Tim Hanna, Matt McDevitt and Chris Konicki who all share as much passion for sports as they do for brewing some of the best beer in South Jersey. With a strong sports tradition in the area, the Nor’easters are proud to be aligned with such a fantastic local (and delicious) business.
7: Capelli Sport / The Rothman Institute
2016 marked the beginning of a new era with two fantastic new sponsors.
The Rothman Institute has entered its first full year as the title sponsor of the Nor’easters, having their name prominently displayed on the front of the 2016 home and away kits. Rothman is a local orthopedic and specialty service, dedicated to not only health and wellness but also to sports medicine. Rothman also sponsors the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, as well as Villanova University and St. Joseph’s University.
6: Nor'easters Summer Academy
The Nor’easters Summer Academy made its debut this season and made a significant impact on the local sports culture for young people. The Academy which allows Under-8, Under-10, Under-12 and Under-14 players to expand their knowledge of the game and develop their game for the next level.
“We see the Summer Academy as the final piece of our organization," said Nor'easters general manager, Kevin Nuss. "The Nor'easters are now able to provide opportunities for every boy and girl in Ocean City, NJ, and the surrounding area, to not only have fun playing soccer but to play competitively, develop their ability and one day play for the Nor'easters men's or women's teams."
5: Nor'easter Summer Vacation Camps
The Nor’easters held their annual summer vacation camps directed by Arthur "Skip" Roderick and Christos Economopoulos. Each year, the Nor’easters look to help kids learn the game of soccer in a competitive and fun way. The kids got to develop their skills while also playing alongside and learning from Nor'easters players and coaches.
4: MLS (academy) friendlies
The Nor’easters took part in a pair of early season friendlies against Major League Soccer academy teams. This allowed players to see the level of talent involved in an MLS side as they groom players for the next generation of the senior team. The Nor’easters claimed victory in both games, defeating the D.C. United Under-23s 3-0 on May 21, followed by a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution Under-23s on June 11. The games gave the Ocean City players some valuable experience and a chance to stay loose throughout the PDL season.
3: Chevaughn Walsh
The breakout season by Chevaughn "Chevy" Walsh caught the attention of the soccer nation in 2016. Walsh became the first Nor'easters player to lead the PDL in scoring (14 goals, 3 assists in 14 games) while also breaking or tying every single-season club record for goals and points. For his efforts, he became the second Ocean City player to be named the league's most valuable player. His performance helped the club qualify for the postseason where he continued his MVP performance by scoring two goals and dishing out two assists in three playoff wins over three division champions to win the Eastern Conference championship. The Jamaican also finished the 2016 season ranked No. 2 on the PDL's Top Prospects list.
2: Making the Playoffs
The Nor’easters found themselves in a desperate situation down the stretch in the PDL season. After dropping a tough 2-0 decision to the Baltimore Bohemians on July 8 at the Tennessee Avenue Soccer Complex, Ocean City was put in a position where they had to win their last two games to clinch a playoff berth. And they did just that. They snapped a six-game winless streak against the Jersey Express with a 3-1 win on July 10 to make the season finale against Baltimore a "winner take all" situation. They would clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the season with a 3-2 win over the Bohemians thanks to goals from Walsh, Nathan Regis, and Miguel Jaime. It was an extra special finale as Walsh's 14th goal of the season clinched the PDL scoring title as well.
1: Eastern Conference Champions
In a division like the Mid-Atlantic, rivals are often created and for the Nor’easters, there is no bigger rival than that of Reading United AC. A rivalry that dates back to the Nor'easters inaugural season in 1997 set the stage for an exciting Eastern Conference championship game on the road against Reading. It was the 42nd meeting between the clubs, but it was the first time the two had met in the playoffs. After wins over Northeast Division champion GPS Portland Phoenix and South Atlantic champion Charlotte Eagles, the Nor'easters needed to get past Reading to reach the PDL Semifinals.
After Aaron Molley had put Reading up 1-0 in the 22nd minute, they went down to 10 men less than 15 minutes later. The scoreline would hold into the half, but an explosive Nor’easters offense would take command in the second half. Mutaya Mwape tied the game in the 55th minute and then assisted on Regis' go-ahead goal in the 76th. Jaime and Regis would add a goal each to put the game away at 4-1 and give the Nor'easters their first conference title since 2013.
In a division dominated by MLS-affiliated teams the Nor’easters have yet again proven that an independent team can be competitive and successful in the PDL. In addition to the fantastic talent on the field and the exceptional coaching and front office staff, the team has added another successful chapter in the club's 20-year history.
BONUS: NBA superstar LeBron James calls out Ocean City alum in national TV ad
Who would have thought that when former Ocean City Nor'easters player Nate Bourdeau sent out a tweet poking fun at NBA superstar LeBron James that it would end up being featured in a national TV commercial with "The King" biting back at him? But it happened.