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Late West Chester United Goal Stuns Ocean City, hands Nor’easters first defeat of 2024



Ocean City began the USL League Two campaign with a perfect eight wins from eight matches, dominating opponents by a combined score of 25 to four. This dominance gave the Nor’easters a historic chance to clinch a third consecutive Mid-Atlantic Division title and the league’s first playoff berth after just nine matches.

The visiting West Chester United SC had started the season well, sitting just behind the hosts in second place, however, a home defeat to Ocean City sent West Chester into a bad run of form, with just one point from their previous four games entering this affair.

A strong crowd of about 800 filed into the infamous Carey Stadium to watch the Nor’Easters attempt to clinch a division title on Friday night, but West Chester had no intentions of letting that happen. These two clubs are often labeled as the region’s strongest, and the opening half hour of the match proved that not much could separate the sides. Ocean City’s pressing and quick passing led to a handful of corners and a few half-chances, but West Chester’s back line, anchored by former Philadelphia Union II player Daniel Krueger, held strong to keep the game scoreless.

The real drama began in the 32nd minute, after West Chester were awarded a penalty. Ocean City and University of Nebraska Omaha Goalkeeper, Nathanael Sallah, came up with a massive save down to his right to deny Joshua Pulla. As the home crowd erupted, more chaos ensued, as the assistant referee had signaled that the penalty needed to be retaken, as a West Chester player had entered the box prematurely. Pulla stepped back up and fired to the opposite side of the net, but Sallah did incredibly well to save the strike a second time. West Chester continued to dominate the game in the final stretch of the first half, but Sallah made another crucial save to keep the match scoreless at the break.

The second half was incredibly chippy and neither side was really able to maintain any possession, let alone create a chance. The referee dished out four yellow cards, including one to both the West Chester Head Coach and a separate bench player. The only shot on target for a forty minute stretch was a great one-on-one chance for the visitors, but Sallah made another big stop.

Finally in the 84th Minute, just when it appeared that a scoreless draw was the most likely outcome, West Chester stunned the hosts. West Chester’s Yassine Elkahoun quickly fired a loose ball into the far corner of the net, leaving Sallah with no chance. Ocean City’s perfect season had been spoiled by a goal that seemingly came out of absolutely nowhere.

The Nor’easters had just a couple of minutes to find an answer, and had a shout for what looked like a clear penalty, as Jansen Miller was chopped down in the corner of the box. However, the referee, who had struggled to maintain any control throughout the match, signaled for a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The Ocean City bench erupted in fury for the second or third time in the match, but to no avail.

West Chester miraculously had ended the Nor’easters perfect campaign with a massive win on the 6th Street beach. Ocean City still remains just two points away from clinching the division title, and can do so Wednesday at Philadelphia Lone Star, or with a Reading United AC loss or draw on Saturday. West Chester moved back into second place in the division, and the two sides will meet again at Carey Stadium on the final day of the season, July 13.

Evan Cohen is a Philadelphia native currently studying at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. A Philadelphia Union supporter since the club's start in 2010, Evan began contributing to Philadelphia Soccer Now in 2023.

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