Noreasters Drop Season Opener to Reading

Loss eliminates Ocean City from US Open Cup contention on opening day

The Ocean City Nor’easters opened their 2011 schedule Friday night with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Reading United.

Ocean City was just starting their march towards a successful season, while Reading was already playing its fourth game. The match doubled as a league game and a US Open Cup Qualifier, so its importance loomed large. The game was closer than the score might indicate as both teams battled back and forth from the get-go, resulting in a scoreless draw at halftime.

However, Reading began the scoring just two minutes into the second half, in the 47th minute. Will Bates scored his third goal of the season to give the United a 1-0 advantage. Reading would increase its lead to two in the 60th minute on a goal by Brian Ownby, his first of the year. Before the Nor’easters could recover, Bates scored his second of the night off a corner kick in the 64th minute to make it 3-0. Bates was able to get free in the box and put the ball past Ocean City goalkeeper Pat Hannigan.

Ocean City head coach Neil Holloway then substituted some players to try and get more offensive firepower. It quickly paid dividends as the Nor’easters got on the board in the 69th minute. Byron Carmichael took a shot that was saved by Reading goalkeeper Brian Holt, but the rebound was put in by Jack Bailey. Now trailing 3-1, Ocean City continued to put on the pressure. Bailey was able to put his head on a cross, but his attempt hit the cross bar and bounced out off the goal line. Reading was able to survive the onslaught and put the game away in the 80th minute, on a goal by Stephen Okai. Holt made eight saves to backstop the win, while Hannigan made six in a losing effort.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing to start off the season with a loss,” said Holloway. “But, it’s only the first game and we hope to come back strong in our home opener on Sunday.”

Even though it was the first game of the season for Ocean City, with the loss the Nor’easters were eliminated from US Open Cup contention. Reading finished qualifying with a 4-0-0 record, and having dropped the game, there is no way for Ocean City to catch them.

The Nor’easters will shift their focus to league play as they return to the Beach House for their home opener against the New Jersey Rangers on Sunday, May 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. as the Nor’easters will unveil their new grass field at Carey Stadium that they received from the New Meadowlands Stadium. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for kids.