At least one save. That’s what Harrisburg City Islanders head coach Bill Becher predicted his goalkeeper would make when he gathered his players for a huddle on the field before a penalty shootout in a Third Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match in Ocean City on Wednesday night.
That save came when Brandon Miller dove to his left to stop Ocean City Nor’easters defender Fraser Colmer’s penalty attempt in the fourth round of kicks after a scoreless draw and 6-5 Islanders win on penalties.
“That’s the goal for a goalkeeper just to try and save one and hopefully your teammates can stick theirs in the back of the net,” City Islanders goalkeeper Brandon Miller said. “I did my job and they did their job so we get out of here with a win.”
The Harrisburg City Islanders (white) were taken to penalty kicks by the Ocean City Nor’easters at Carey Stadium (“The Beach House”) in Ocean City, NJ. Photo: Matt Ralph
After Ribeiro’s miss in the first round, the City Islanders were a perfect 6-for-6 from the spot with Mouhamed Dabo hitting the decisive strike after Ocean City Nor’easters midfielder Max Hemmings skied his attempt over the bar.
The two teams have a history. The midweek encounter was a rematch from the 2007 US Open Cup, when the City Islanders edged the Nor’easters at “The Beach House” by the score of 2-1. In fact, 10 former Ocean City players have gone on to play for Harrisburg, including current midfielder Shawn McLaws.
Seeking a sixth upset over a professional club in Open Cup play, the Premier Development League side played Harrisburg more or less even through 120 minutes of soccer on a breezy night at Carey Stadium. In fact, it was the amateur side with less than two weeks training together that nearly opened the scoring at the close of the first half.
Tyler Collishaw, who scored in Ocean City’s First Round win over Junior Lone Star last week, started the play when he received a ball near midfield on a counter attack and threaded a pass through to Ismael Noumansana in the box. Noumansana was unable to chip Miller but a second attempt fell for Akeil Barrett that he ended up slamming off the underside of the football field goal post just above the goal. Barrett, a former Swope Park Rangers player who came off the bench and scored in last week’s victory, made the most of his start and, along with Friedlin Mompremier, looked dangerous on counters.
Carey Stadium (“The Beach House”) is located on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean. Only one other minor league sports stadium in the country is closer to an ocean. Photo: Matt Ralph
Harrisburg came close to grabbing a late winner when with time running out in the second overtime substitute Aaron Wheeler buried a loose ball that had deflected off an Ocean City defender, only to have the goal waved off with a questionable call for offside.
The Nor’easters created chances of their own in overtime, including one off a piece of skill from substitute Frantztly Zephirin, who danced down the end line and delivered a pass to Ignacio Tellechea in the box for a shot attempt that sailed high over the bar. Each team was shown three yellow cards and Ocean City had 15 fouls to 13 for Harrisburg.
“We have to be proud because we took a pro team all the way to penalties and in the run of the game we created maybe a few more opportunities than them,” Nor’easters head coach John Thompson said.
A small consolation prize for the Nor’easters is that with the match finishing in a scoreless draw, it added to a record they hold. It was the sixth time in club history that they had kept a clean sheet against a professional opponent. No amateur team in the Modern Era (1995-present) has more. It was the first time in Ocean City’s 21-year franchise history that the club had participated in a penalty kick shootout.
With the win, Harrisburg City Islanders will travel to face another PDL side, Ocean City’s division rival, Reading United on May 31. Reading stunned the NASL champion New York Cosmos 3-2 on Wednesday night.