Simon Becher, Theo Quartey score first half goals as Ocean City extends unbeaten streak to 14 games
Photo: Jack Verdeur (IG: @jack_verdeur)
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The Ocean City Nor'easters are off to the best start to a season in 14 years after a 2-2 draw against Northern Virginia FC. Simon Becher (St. Louis Univ. / Brooklyn, CT) and Theo Quartey (Villanova / Accra, Ghana) each scored first half goals to give the Storm a 2-0 halftime lead, but a pair of second half goals by the visitors and some missed opportunities left the game deadlocked when the final whistle blew.
With a draw, the Nor'easters remain undefeated at 5-0-2, the best seven-game start to a campaign since 2007. The draw also extends Ocean City's unbeaten streak dating back to the 2019 season to 14 games, the second-longest in club history. Sunday's game took place at Carey Stadium ("The Beach House"), and the Storm's home unbeaten streak is now at 13 games, which is also the second-longest in club history.
Ocean City remains in sole possession of second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division, five points behind first-place West Chester United. However, the Nor'easters have played two fewer games than United, and the two teams will square off for the second time on Wednesday in West Chester, Pa. OCN won the first meeting at the Beach House back on May 23 by the score of 2-1. With a 4-2-2 record, Northern Virginia FC remains in third place in the division, just three points behind Ocean City.
"We were not good enough in the second half," said Nor'easters head coach Alan McCann. "The trend of putting ourselves into difficult games from winning positions needs to stop now and it will be immediately addressed."
The opening 10 minutes saw both teams create two significant chances. In the 5th minute, the Nor'easters had a cross just miss the foot of a sliding Simon Becher in front of goal, but just a minute later, NOVA's Tyler Clegg was tripped up just inside the penalty area and drew the penalty kick. Clegg confidently called for the ball and set up to take the spot kick. He fired a shot to the lower corner, but Yannik Oettl (Central Florida / Munich, Germany) dove to his left and made the save to keep the game scoreless.
A couple minutes later, Neville Morgan (Lindsey Wilson / Westmoreland, Jamaica) drove a free kick from the right wing to the near post. Becher made a run to the near post and headed it toward goal and thumped it off the woodwork. A poor clearance attempted by a NOVA defender sent the ball right to Kasper Skraep (Coastal Carolina / Nyborg, Denmark) who took a sliding shot but it fell right into the arms of goalkeeper Lorenzo Gordon who made one of his four saves on the day.
In the 12th minute, the Nor'easters were building out of the back and the ball was played up to defender Will Portman (Louisville / Sheffield, England) who was making his first start of the season. Portman quickly pushed the ball past midfield and played a gorgeous through ball in behind the defense. Becher ran onto it, and blasted a one-time shot just inside the penalty area into the upper right hand corner past a helpless goalkeeper.
The Storm continued to push in the 29th minute with Quartey playing a nice through ball on the left side of the box. Becher ran onto it and took a close shot from a tight angle but he sent it into the side netting.
Two minutes later, the Nor'easters had two more chances to double the lead. Austin DaSilva (Univ. at Albany / Brookfield, CT) played a long pass along the ground up to Becher who played the ball into the middle to Quartey who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Gordon made the save but the rebound was free and Becher was fouled trying to play the ball. The foul on Becher took place in the middle of the penalty box, but for some reason the referee awarded the Nor'easters an indirect free kick inside the penalty area.
With eight NOVA players and a goalkeeper on the line, three players hovered around the ball, Becher rolled the ball over to Segev who fired the ball from 10 yards out and off the crossbar.
Just before halftime, Becher drew a foul at the left outer corner of the penalty box and Ocean City was awarded a spot kick. After a lengthy injury delay, Theo Quartey stepped up and chipped the ball down the middle and into the back of the net as Gordon guessed wrong by diving to his right.
After the halftime break, Northern Virginia came out on the front foot and cut the lead in half in the 54th minute. After Oettl made a diving save moments earlier, NOVA's KJ Nadeau drove a corner kick to the near post and it found a way through and into the net. It was the first goal allowed by Oettl.
Two minutes later, Martin Ndoh received a pass at the top of the box and hit a shot that fell just outside the reach of a diving Oettl, off the post and into the back of the net. For NOVA's leading scorer, it was the third goal scored against Ocean City this year after scoring a brace in the Storm's 3-2 win back on June 5.
The visitors didn't take the foot off the gas pedal as they had a point blank opportunity in the 58th minute. A cross came in from the left wing which led to a shot from near the penalty spot which was saved by Oettl, the biggest of his four saves on the night.
In the 68th minute, Becher received another ball behind the NOVA backline. The St. Louis University product made a run down the right wing, cut back inside to avoid the defender and give him space to shoot. Unfortunately, his shot ended up right at the goalkeeper.
The Nor'easters pushed forward in the final few minutes to find the game-winner and created multiple chances. The best chance came with a free kick just inches outside the box in the 90th minute. But Segev's free kick attempt was fired into the seven-man wall.
The match finished in a 2-2 draw, which also extended the Nor'easters' unbeaten run against Northern Virginia FC. Ocean City has been playing against NVFC since 2004 and are 15-0-3 all-time against them, and 8-0-2 at home.
FULL MATCH REPLAY