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City Islanders edge Ocean City Nor’easters on penalties in U.S. Open Cup

Harrisburg City Islanders won a penalty shootout 6-5 after a scoreless 120 minutes on Wednesday

Mouhamed Dabo is congratulated by Pedro Ribeiro and Lee Nishanian after his decisive goal in a penalty shootout won by Harrisburg 6-5
Matt Ralph

Harrisburg City Islanders are moving forward in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after toppling Ocean City Nor’easters in a penalty shootout on Wednesday night at Carey Stadium.

Goalkeeper Brandon Miller made a save on Fraser Colmer’s penalty in the fourth round of the shootout to cancel out Pedro Ribeiro’s miss, and after Max Hemmings sent his attempt over the bar in the seventh round Mouhamed Dabo’s goal sealed the 6-5 shootout win.

“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,” Miller said after the game. “I did my job and they did their job so we get out of here with a win.”

Miller and his teammates thought they had won the game late in the second overtime when Aaron Wheeler slammed home a ball in the box deflected off an Ocean City defender. But the linesman waved the goal off to the protest of Wheeler and the technical staff.

The Wheeler chance was one of only a few on the night for Harrisburg, which dominated possession for long stretches of the game but looked vulnerable on the counter attack from Ocean City’s talented and pacey front line of former Reading United forward Ismael Noumansana, Freidlin Mompremier and former Orlando City SC draft pick Akeil Barrett.

Ocean City came close to capitalizing from a counter late in the first half when Tyler Collishaw, who scored a brace in a 3-1 win over Junior Lone Star FC in a first round match last week, slipped a through ball to Noumansana. Miller was able to get enough of the ball to deny Noumansana’s chip but a second chance fell to Akeil Barrett, whose shot missed the mark and slammed the underside of the football field goal post.

Miller was hardly tested beyond that as Ocean City’s chances, including one in overtime set up by a fine move down the end line from Franztly Zephirin, resulted in off target shots. But an Ocean City back line anchored by NAIA standouts Daniel Nimmo and Nikola Fimic was as equally challenging to break down, as neither side was able to find the back of the net in 120 minutes of play. While busier than Miller, Jimmy Slayton was forced into only one difficult save in the first half when he was able to tip a hard line drive over the bar.

“I love the Open Cup, you see games like this, a good PDL team giving us a good challenge,” Miler said. “It’s as exciting a tournament as there is.”

It was exciting but not always so pretty. Each team was shown three yellow cards on the night and Ocean City had 15 fouls to 13 for the visitors.

Former Nor’easter Shawn McLaws, Danny DiPrima, Lee Nishanian, Jonny Mendoza and Dabo went six-for-six in penalties after Ribeiro’s miss. Alexander Simovic, Francisco Neto, Mompremier, Ignacio Tellechea and Fimic converted for Ocean City.

“We gotta 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.

Harrisburg will get a week off from Open Cup play before heading to Exeter Township to face Reading United on May 31. Reading United beat New York Cosmos 3-2 on Wednesday night at home. The teams last met in the Open Cup in 2015 with Harrisburg winning 3-0 to avenge a 2013 loss in the competition.

City Islanders have two home league games before that, hosting Charleston Battery this Saturday and Pittsburgh Riverhounds on May 24.