SWEET 16

Written by Michael Lewis

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Long Island Rough Riders connected for three goals within a 19-minute span to register a dramatic 3-1 comeback victory over the Ocean City Nor’easters in the USL League Two Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TowneBank Stadium on Friday evening.

After Matthew Vowinkel equalized in the 70th minute, second-half substitute Justin Weiss snapped 1-1 tie in the 85th minute before Ryan Carmichael added an insurance score four minutes later.

The Rough Riders, who have won five consecutive games, advanced to the conference semifinals and on Sunday will meet the winner of the Vermont Green FC and Lionsbridge FC match on Sunday, July 24. Those two teams played in the second game of the doubleheader on Friday night.

Long Island snapped Ocean City’s unbeaten streak at 14 games (11-0-3) as it suffered its first and lone defeat of the season.

The game kicked off in 91-degree heat, which meant for slow going for both teams in the opening 25 minutes.

Ocean City drew first blood in the 28th minute as Matt Myers ran onto a Jeorgio Kocevski pass on the left side, raced into the penalty area and fired a 12-yard shot to the near left post past goalkeeper Wessel Speel.

The Rough Riders came out of second-half kickoff with an urgency to equalize as they forced the issue.

It paid off in the 70th minute as left back Bjarne Thiesen sent a long ball out of the back to Vowinkel, who with his back to the goal and battling goalkeeper Felix Schafer for the air ball from 12 yards out, headed it home for his team-best 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 deadlock.

Only minutes after entering the game, Weiss played hero. A Rough Riders players hit a shot that bounded off the right post. Weiss gathered the rebound and drilled it home for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 margin in the 84th minute.

While trying to deny an Ocean City attacker the ball near the sideline, Riders center back Nicholas Cavallo made a fine sliding tackle that not only kept the ball out harm’s way but he sent the ball to Carmichael down the left flank. Carmichael beat his man, Kasper Skraep, and eventually Schafer from seven yards to give Long Island some much needed breathing room. It was Carmichael’s 11th goal of the season.