Heading to Austin, TX for PDL Championship
It was yet another picture postcard evening in Ocean City, NJ and a most beautiful surrounding to host one of the major fixtures on the USL PDL calendar. The game lived up to the expectations with the Nor’easters winning 3-1 over Ottawa Fury to advance to the USL PDL Championship to be held in Austin, TX.
The Nor’easters are making their first trip to the PDL Championships since joining the league in 2003. They will be playing hosts Austin Aztex while the other semi final will be an all-Canadian affair between Victoria Highlanders and Thunder Bay Chill.
Ottawa started the brighter in the first 5 minutes, possibly down to the fact they played at 2pm opposed to the Nor’easters 5pm start. However it was the Ocean City Nor’easters who took the lead in the 15th minute. Right back Patrick O’Neil pinged a 40 yard pass into the path of Dwayne Reid who broke the offside trap, controlled it magnificently on his thigh and finished past the sprawling Ottawa keeper.
The Nor’easters doubled their score after a direct free kick from Frank Tweneboa, on 30 minutes, into the top right corner from 20 yards out. Zoncher Dennis drew the foul as he tried to beat the Ottawa defender. Tweneboa stepped up confidently and curled it into the top corner with aplomb.
Ocean City supporters were up in arms as star player Reid seemed to be taken down by Ottawa’s Chad Bush only for a corner to be given by the referee. However, from the resulting corner Max Tassano made it 3-0 to the home team sending the crowd into raptures with 42 miuntes gone on the clock. Max Tassano had just replaced the injured Scott Davis, who was bossing the midfield area, and scored his first ever Nor’easters goal with his first touch of the 2013 season.
With half time approaching Ocean City were looking forward to a comfortable lead but Ottawa had other ideas. A direct free kick in a similar vein to Tweneboa’s by Carl Haworth. Haworth got a brace against Reading the day before so must have been confident as he stroked the ball past O’Keeffe who did his best to get close to a wonderful free kick.
The atmosphere was tense at the beginning of the second half as Ottawa began to throw players forward. It was the Nor’easters this time who had to weather the storm coming from the Fury as they tried to hold the ball up front as well as putting their bodies on the line to block every shot and clear every high ball sent up by the Canadians.
The clock continued to tick down in the Nor’easters supporters got louder and louder as they counted down to crown them the USL PDL Eastern Conference Champions. The referee finally blew the whistle after 5 minutes of injury time and the Nor’easters began the party.
Coach Tim Oswald was pulled away from the celebrations and told us about the game, “It was a strange game, we came out all guns blazing and took a deserved 3-0 lead. The Ottawa goal put us on the back foot but we have been so good in transition play all season that we always threatened again. We know have to look forward to a great experience being part of the national final four”
El Presidente Giancarlo Granese was excited for all of the players, staff and fans after the score line was finalized, “This is the greatest achievement the Nor’easters have ever seen. What a fantastic feeling. I want to thank everybody who has been a part of this, from the coaching staff Tim Oswald, Kevin Nuss, recovery man Christos. Our General Manager Neil Holloway and fantastic Director of Operations Dan Ash work so hard for us putting all the pieces together alongside all the other guys in the office. We share this joy together.”