OCEAN CITY - Nor'easters coach Tim Oswald looked around at his tired group of players Saturday and had one simple message.
"You are 90 minutes away from the Final Four," Oswald said after the game.
Ninety minutes of regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods weren't enough to settle Saturday's USL Premier Development League Eastern Conference semifinal game between Ocean City and the defending champion Carolina Dynamo.
But all five Nor'easters made their shots in the penalty kick shootout and goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe came up with a huge save as the Nor'easters beat the Dynamo 5-3 in a penalty kicks after a scoreless tie.
Ocean City will host the Ottawa Fury in the conference championship tonight at 7 at Carey Stadium. Ottawa defeated Nor'easters rival Reading United 3-2 in the other semifinal at the Tennessee Avenue Soccer Complex.
"There is no pressure on the keeper at all," O'Keeffe said. "They are expected to score. I just needed to try and stop one and I was able to do that today."
O'Keeffe turned away a handful of shots in the first half and knocked perhaps the game's best scoring chance over the crossbar in the second extra time period.
But the diving save on Carolina's third penalty kick was the play of the game.
"We talked all year about small moments and doing great things in small moments," Oswald said. "Michael had to do something special in a small moment and he was able to do that."
Ocean City was forced to play a man-down for the final 20 minutes of regulation and extra time after a controversial red card ended Isreal Richardo's game.
The head referee ruled a no-call on a hard slide tackle but after conferring with one of his side judges went to his pocket for the red.
But Ocean City was able to force and then survive the overtime periods before winning in penalty kicks.
Ocean City's leading scorer Dwayne Reid had a few scoring opportunities but was largely held at bay by U.S. U-20 team member and former ACC defensive player of the year Sebastien Ibeagha from Duke University.
Today is Ocean City's first appearance in this round of the PDL playoffs since 2009.
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