Ocean City Nor'easters defender Dylan Evande celebrates his second half goal as the League Two side advanced to the Second Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. | Photo courtesy Jack Verdeur / Ocean City Nor'easters
The Ocean City Nor’easters rallied from an early deficit to take a 3-1 victory against West Chester United FC to advance to the Second Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at YSC Sports on Tuesday night in the opening game of the 108th edition of the historic tournament.
The reigning USL League Two Mid Atlantic Division champions got goals from Andres Latorre, Dylan Evande and Andre Sabino to claim victory, setting up a contest with Maryland Bobcats FC at the Maryland SoccerPlex next month.
West Chester almost opened the game in style when Kyle Tucker fired a free kick from 25 yards toward the top-left corner only for Ocean City goalkeeper Brady Hochman to tip the effort over. The hosts took the lead in the 12th minute, however, when a flighted ball from the back line by Luca Mellor found Finn Reese as he broke into the right channel at the top of the penalty area. Reese’s first touch took him around the goalkeeper before he finished into the open net from a wide angle.
United also went close through Jimmy McLaughlin soon after, but in the 19th minute Ocean City answered back with a thunderous strike by Latorre from the top of the penalty area after the Nor’easters kept the ball alive following a corner kick. The Nor’easters almost grabbed the lead nine minutes later, but Piero Sabroso couldn’t squeeze a close-range finish past West Chester goalkeeper Cameron Sanders at close range.
Andres Latorre takes the roof off the net with a rocket to equalize for @OCNoreasters! #USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/9XW5EFjeVb— USL League Two (@USLLeagueTwo) March 22, 2023
Ocean City continued to press for the lead and in the 34th minute Sabino got in behind the West Chester back line through the left channel but pulled his shot wide of the right post. Four minutes later the visitors escaped, meanwhile, as West Chester’s Reese was denied by Hochman on a close-range chance headed off a low cross by Conor Bradley. From the ensuing corner, the visitors just did enough to charge down chances for United’s Mellor and Shane Bradley to keep the game level at the break.
Sabroso went close again for the Nor’easters seven minutes into the second half when he pivoted into possession in the right side of the penalty area and struck the base of the near post with his shot. Ocean City took the lead on the hour-mark, however, as off a corner kick by Curran from the right to the back post, Evande rose highest and headed home from the top of the six-yard area.
Dylan Evande meets the corner kick at the back post to take the lead for @OCNoreasters! #USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/khQFnVJxpO— USL League Two (@USLLeagueTwo) March 22, 2023
West Chester almost answered immediately as Thomas King turned over possession in the Ocean City half and broke down the right side before centering for Jacob Gosselin, but Hochman made a point-blank save to keep his side ahead. The Nor’easters then added to their lead in the 67th minute when West Chester was whistled for a handball in its penalty area and Sabino converted from the spot to the left side, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
A handball in the box leads to @OCNoreasters converting the penalty for the 3-1 advantage #USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/C5YieiZtKm— USL League Two (@USLLeagueTwo) March 22, 2023
The hosts pressed to try and get back into the game and twice went close to pulling a goal back, first having an effort cleared off the line by Ryan Kingsford before Hochman denied Gosselin. The Nor’easters got another goal line clearance to keep out an effort by Kenneth Roby with 13 minutes to go, while Ocean City’s Diego Martinez curled a shot just wide of the right post.
The Nor’easters held firm defensively down over the final 10 minutes, however, closing out their rivals and earning a place in the Second Round for the first time since the 2018 season.