GERMANTOWN, Md. - William Swetra and Kevin Curran must have some selective hearing.

Swetra and Curran have heard it for years. Southern New Jersey isn't exactly known as a soccer hotbed.

But maybe it should be.

The two Cape-Atlantic League products are a big reason why the Ocean City Barons of the Premier Development League played a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round game against D.C United of Major League Soccer.

"It was an unreal experience," starting fullback Kevin Curran said.

It's been a whirlwind of a month for the Loyola (Md.)-bound player. Curran graduated from Ocean City High School on June 18 and turned 18 on June 19.

Less than two weeks later, he found himself in the unlikely position of playing against a Major League Soccer team.

"Playing D.C. United isn't something that happens every day," Curran said.

Curran was able to find a smile even after a tough loss. The Barons played to a scoreless tie through 74 minutes before giving up two late goals to fall 2-0.

"I remember going to D.C. United games when I was 12 and 13 years old," Curran said. "I never dreamt of playing these guys."

Curran had one of the Barons' five shots on goal.

Swetra, an Absegami graduate, is a senior-to-be at James Madison University.

He started the game at center halfback and found himself marking United's Ben Olsen just minutes into the game. Olsen played for the United States in the 2006 World Cup.

But Swetra wasn't worried about what Olsen had accomplished. He wanted to show United, fans, teammates and even scouts that he is capable of making some noise in the game himself.

"It's a treat playing with players of that caliber," Swetra said. "But also you want to get out there and prove that you belong out there with those players and that you can take that next step yourself."

Swetra was fearless in the midfield, forcing a number of turnovers and helping his team try and control the pace of play. He hit four corner kicks and three free kicks.

United came out strong in the first half and tried to catch the Barons flatfooted.

"The first five-(to)-10 minutes they kind of bombarded us," Swetra said. "We were kind of on our back foot for the first few minutes of the game. But after we got a few touches on the ball and got acquainted with the game and the pace of the game, I think we settled down."

Neal Melchionni, an Ocean City High School graduate now playing at Lehigh, came into the game late as a substitute for Curran and nearly scored, also coming up with one of the Barons' five shots on goal.

Tyler Bellamy (St. Joseph) and Billy Pinto (St. Augustine Prep) were also on the active roster Tuesday but neither found their way into the game.

Curran takes his role as a role model to young soccer players very seriously. He knows what it can do for a young player to see a local guy competing on such a high level.

"Hopefully seeing me on the field and some of the young guys on the sideline, kids can look at that and say, 'Wow, I can do that too,'" Curran said.

E-mail John O'Kane:

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