OCEAN CITY — The phrase “Final Four,” usually associated with college basketball, now means soccer in Ocean City.
The Ocean City Nor’easters beat the Ottawa Fury 3-1 in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League Eastern Conference championship game Sunday at Carey Stadium.
Dwayne Reid, Frank Tweneboa and Max Tassano each scored in the first half as Ocean City went up 3-0.
The Nor’easters, 15-3-1 overall and 13-2-1 in the PDL, will be in their first PDL Final Four since the program began in the late 1990s. Ottawa finished at 13-2-2.
The Premier Develop-ment League has four conference championships nationally, the others being the Central, Southern and Western. The PDL’s Final Four is Aug. 2 and 4 at a site to be determined.
“Obviously it feels great to be in the Final Four,” Ocean City coach Tim Oswald said. “It’s been our goal since our staff was hired (in the fall of 2011).
“We tried to come out and score early because we were tired from (Saturday, a penalty kicks victory over the Carolina Dynamo in a semifinal). We got three goals and that eased some of the tension and helped us to get comfortable with the game.”
The Fury started well and forced Ocean City goalie Michael O’Keeffe to make two early saves. But the Nor’easters took the momentum away and went up 3-0.
Ocean City’s Reid took a lofty pass from defender Patrick O’Neil and scored to make it 1-0 in the 13th minute. Reid took the ball on the right side and beat Ottawa goalie Chad Bush to the right post. Reid leads the team with 11 goals.
“You try not to second-guess yourself when you go in alone on the goalie,” Reid, 25, said. “He left a little opening at the near post, so I slid it in.
“This is a great team accomplishment and a great feeling. Now we’ve played 210 minutes in the two days. We’ll have to get our legs back, and continue to grind it out and work hard. We have two more games to go.”
Tweneboa followed with the second goal on a free kick from the right side in the 30th minute. He booted one just to the right of Ottawa’s defensive wall, and the ball went off the right post and in.
The scoring barrage continued as O.C. midfielder Tassano, who entered the game only two minutes earlier, scored from the left side in the 44th minute after a corner kick by Tweneboa.
“We had a great team last year but lost (1-0 to Ottawa) in the Sweet 16,” Ocean City defender Kevin Curran, 22, said. “I feel like this is a long time coming, and I’m happy that these guys get to share it with me.”
Ottawa got on the board in stoppage time of the first half as scoring leader Carl Haworth drilled his 14th goal of the year past a diving O’Keeffe at the right post.
The Nor’easters played it more cautiously in the second half and kept Ottawa from finishing a lot of its chances.
Tweneboa, with a goal and an assist, was named the game’s MVP.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Ottawa 1 0 - 1
Ocean City 3 0 - 3
Goals-Haworth OT. Reid, Tweneboa, Tassano OC.
Goalies-Bush (3) OT, O’Keefe (5) OC.
Records-O.C. 15-3-1; Ottawa 13-2-2.