In a match worthy of the billing of two top 10 nationally ranked teams in USL League Two, both West Chester United (No. 8) and Ocean City Nor’easters (No. 5) walked off the field Wednesday night ruing missed chances.
For West Chester United (7-1-2), however, the scoreless draw felt even more like a win in a week where they have their eyes on the much bigger prize of booking a spot in the final four of the National Amateur Cup.
They’ll take the field Saturday night at Ukrainian American Sports Center in North Wales to take on Landsdowne Bhoys feeling pretty confident after managing a clean sheet against a high-powered Nor’easters attack down a man for the final half hour.
“We wanted to see tonight if we could just go toe to toe with them playing the way we want to play,” said West Chester head coach Blaise Santangelo. “We felt good. This is kind of a three-game chess match. Once we went a man down we thought maybe we could still get a win but making them lose two points is huge, now they have three ties. It’s a win for us.”
Ocean City came into the game unbeaten but in second place behind West Chester. They handed West Chester their first ever USL League Two loss in the first meeting the same day they qualified for Saturday’s National Amateur Cup regional final.
As they did in the first meeting, West Chester nearly went ahead early when a chance fell to Leon Maric but his shot went wide of the far post and Ocean City was able to recover with some bright attacking moments. Getting one past goalkeeper Dane Jacomen proved a challenging task, however, as the Penn keeper continued his standout campaign with a couple of big saves to deny goals. Center back Luca Mellor also came up clutch clearing his lines and making a key intervention to deny a goal.
“We missed two key chances in the first half,” Ocean City head coach Alan McCann said. “So we’re disappointed on the finishing side and disappointed we didn’t take an opportunity when they go down a man but we’re still on course to achieve our targets.”
The Nor’easters (5-0-3) extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games dating back to 2019 and remain five points back of West Chester for the Mid-Atlantic Division lead with a pair of games in hand.
It was nearly a disastrous finish for the visitors when West Chester substitute Spencer Burkhardt forced a turnover and had a strong run forward he nearly finished with a goal in the 84th minute after a one-two with Chris Donovan.
Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite, who has been platooning with Yannik Oettl but was a late addition to the lineup when the German picked up a knock in warm-ups, came up with the stop from point blank range to deny Burkhardt. The follow from Isaac McGinnis went just wide of the post.
That West Chester was on the doorstep of grabbing on three points was remarkable considering the predicament they found themselves in after Shane Bradley was shown a second yellow following a collision with Simon Becher in the 60th minute.
“Obviously to go down a man was tough but we just came together really well and defended,” Jacomen said. “Everyone just had each other’s backs on the field.”
Up next, both teams will take a break from USL League Two competition as Ocean City visits the Power Training Complex in Chester for a 5 p.m. friendly with Philadelphia Union 2 and West Chester plays the Region 1 Amateur Cup final.
The rubber match between the two squads will be played at Carey Stadium on July 9.