Ocean City Nor'easters soccer defender Tapiwa Machingauta said Saturday that planned to go to the mall in Austin, Texas, with his teammates and spend at least two more days with them.
Long-range plans are sometimes not as clear in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League.
Ocean City's greatest run in franchise history ended Friday night when it lost 1-0 to the host Austin Aztex in a PDL semifinal game.
The announced crowd of 3,062 at House Field erupted when Austin forward Sito Seoane scored the only goal of the game in the 52nd minute. Seoane beat O.C. goalie Michael O'Keeffe to the right corner.
The Nor'easters and their coaches and management had time to reflect on the game and the season Saturday.
The only things on their schedule were the PDL's awards banquet on Saturday, and watching the championship game between the Aztex and Thunder Bay Chill at 8:30 p.m. today.
The Chill, of Ontario, Canada, topped Victoria Highlanders FC 2-0 Friday in the other semifinal.
"It was definitely a close game that could have gone either way," said Machingauta, 24, of the Nor'easters' loss. "The first 20 minutes they were on the attack, but we were able to weather the storm. They were an attacking team, and we were expecting that. We played better after that."
Machingauta hopes to play pro soccer.
"It's always been my dream, and I'll take whatever comes my way to get noticed," Machingauta said. "Maybe I'll get a couple tryouts."
Ocean City's first big chance came in the 37th minute when forward Zoncher Dennis went in alone on Aztex goalie Devin Cook, but Cook made the stop. The Austin keeper also made a save on Ken Tribbett's header a minute later, and on Dwayne Reid's shot from 12 yards out in the 49th minute.
The Nor'easters had two chances to tie the game in the final 15 minutes. Forward Emmanuel Kollie shot from the right side, but Cook made the save. In the 87th minute, Tribbett sent a header just over the crossbar.
"It was a great game of soccer, and great for the PDL," Nor'easters general manager Neil Holloway said. "I saw both games, and we seemed to be the two best teams I've seen this year. It's too bad we came out on the wrong end."
Ocean City finished with an overall record of 15-4-1, with a Premier Development League mark of 13-3-1. The nonleague games were in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in May.
The Nor'easters earned national attention with an exciting 2-1 loss in extra time to the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer on May 28 in the third round of the Open Cup. O.C. also topped the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a USL Pro League team, 1-0 in the Open Cup's second round. The Pro League is a level above the PDL.
"Our guys were dedicated from the beginning," Ocean City coach Tim Oswald said. "They came in right after school and didn't even see their families. We were ready for the Open Cup and played well. We accomplished our goal of repeating (for the title) in the Mid-Atlantic Division, which is one of the toughest in the country. It was great to make the Final Four. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish, and I'm honored to work with these kids."
Reid lived up to his nickname, "Bullet," as he led the team with 11 goals, one less than the franchise record set by Ruben Mingo in 2004. Reid broke Mingo's single-game mark of four goals on July 12 at Ocean City's Carey Stadium with five goals in a 6-1 win over the F.A. Euro-New York Magic.
Reid, 25, is a native of Jamaica and a first-year player with the Nor'easters. He played for Bloomfield College.
"The season was exciting," Reid said. "We had a good bunch of players who faced adversity but stayed on the right track. They weren't tense, and knew how to play the game and have fun.
"From now I'm not certain about next year. I expect to receive some (pro team) tryouts, but if not I'll definitely be back in Ocean City to help win the national championship."
Contact Guy Gargan: