Junior Lone Star FC’s first foray into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup started and ended poorly, but in between the visitors gave the Ocean City Nor’easters defense all it could handle in a 3-1 defeat on Wednesday night at Carey Stadium.
Despite only having a few training sessions to prepare for the match, the Nor’easters came out strong in the opening minutes with two goals inside 11 minutes from Fredlin Mompremier off a pass from Ignacio Tellechea and a strong finish from Tyler Collishaw set up by a bullet of a cross from former Reading United forward Ismael Noumansana.
It wasn’t until 20 minutes in and a change of tactics from head coach Bobby Ali that the visitors came alive, creating a flurry of chances through strong wide play by Zoncher Dennis, runs from Cotinho Joes and hold-up play from forward Anthony Allison.
Ocean City could do little to stop the waves of attacks, but somehow escaped the first half unscathed in part because of the fine play by Villanova goalkeeper Will Steiner, who came up with four key interventions on the night.
The second half continued the theme as the bulk of the play was in the Nor’easters’ half of the field. Chances hit the woodwork, sailed a bit high or wide of the goal or were shut down by a last ditch clearance by a back line anchored by returners Fraser Colmer and Daniel Nimmo.
The Stars breakthrough finally came in the 62nd minute when Fane Yaya sent a high arcing recycled ball back into the box that found the head of defender Kouassi N’Guessan for the finish past Steiner.
With the lead cut in half, the pressure continued from the Stars, but head coach John Thompson made a key substitution of Jamaican Akeil Barrett that ended up paying dividends when he used his speed on the counter to set up Collishaw’s second of the night in the 83rd minute.
Stars head coach Ali, echoing the sentiment of several traveling supporters in the stands, was unhappy that offsides was not called on the play. The goal also gave way to frustration from the Stars and a late sending off for Dennis.
“That’s the game,” he said.
Collishaw, a Hull, England native who plays at Davenport University, nearly made it 4-1 before full time, but his hat trick bid was denied by a fine save from Prince Monyan.
“They caused us a lot of problems,” Nor’easters head coach Thompson said of the visitors. “You could see their athleticism and their passing ability. It was a tough game for us.”
Ocean City will have a week to prepare for Harrisburg City Islanders’ visit to Carey for the second round Open Cup match on May 17, which will be followed by their Premier Development League season opener two days later against Evergreen FC at home.
The Philadelphia Union and the other U.S.-based Major League Soccer clubs will enter the 104th edition of the tournament in the fourth round on June 14.