On Thursday, September the 28th, after a two-day mid-week break due to Hurricane Maria, the Manteo Redskins laced up their boots to face off against the Pasquotank Panthers. Manteo had their Monday match with the Hatteras Hurricanes canceled, and they were eager to play another game. Their eagerness was displayed early in the match as Manteo came out fired up and took control of the game in the first minute of the game.
Manteo kicked off the game, playing a ball into the Panther’s half on the right side. After finding opposing numbers on the right wing, Manteo dropped and switched the ball to the left side of the pitch. J Zafra found the ball at his feet near midfield with a high Pasquotank back line. Zafra played a well-weighted ball through their backline to Randall Klotz. Klotz took two touches with his left foot towards goal and beat the defender with his speed. Once he was just inside the 18-yard box, he drew the keeper off his line and calmly struck the ball with the outside of his right foot, placing the ball in the side netting of the far post. Manteo was up and running, and one minute had yet to expire off the game clock.
Pasquotank’s first solid possession allowed them to work the ball down into Manteo’s defensive third. Manteo’s backline contained the ball as they retreated atop their own 18-yard box waiting for their center-defensive midfielders to recover and pick up the ball. The containment proved too soft, deep into their defensive third, and space provided allowed a Pasquotank striker to have a crack from atop the box. The ball was hit well but sailed just over the crossbar. It proved to be a wake-up call to the Manteo defense and they would be more aggressive throughout the game.
Five minutes into the first half, Manteo would finish another attacking possession. The ball had been worked deep into the right corner by Edwin Perez. Perez found Eric Hernandez showing for the ball in support. Hernandez turned his defender near the end-line and played a nice low ball into the six-yard box to Landon Taylor. Taylor struck the ball out of mid-air, tapping it into the far post side netting.
Manteo would score just minutes later in a similar fashion. This time the ball was worked up the left wing by J Zafra. Zafra beat his defender to turn the corner, cutting back off of the end-line, Zafra made a short cross into the middle of the 18-yard box to find Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez. The Pasquotank keeper had been pulled out of position by Zafra’s run, and Martinez easily tapped the ball into the goal.
The Redskins kept their momentum going early in the half as they would score their fourth goal of the half with just ten minutes off the clock. Showing patience and control in their attack, Manteo passed the ball in all directions about the pitch. On this possession, Manteo had attempted to find space up the left flank, but found numbers in Pasquotank’s defensive unit all pushed to the left side. The ball was dropped to left-back, William Pendleton. Pendleton took a gathering touch, and then played a great diagonal ball across the pitch to find Taylor all alone atop the box. Taylor took a touch while letting the ball run wide a bit, and then struck it hard, muscling it past the Panther keeper. Ten minutes into the game, and Manteo was dominating in every facet of the game, and they were finishing their attempts.
Manteo would go on to control the first half, even with a steady flow of substitutes coming in. They would produce numerous other scoring opportunities but would enter the half up 4-0.
The Redskins continued their dominance of the game into the second half, though it would take a bit longer for them to get back on the scoreboard this half. The inevitable next goal would come from Manteo’s Eric Hernandez. As Manteo had played a ball into Pasquotank’s defensive third from the right flank, the Panther defense deflected the ball out wide to the left. Pendleton had pinched up in the formation providing attacking support from the defensive back position. The ball was played out to him. Pendleton collected the ball, picked his head up and found Taylor atop the 18-yard box. The ball bounced up on Taylor as two defenders closed on him. Taylor flicked it over the line of defenders to Hernandez who had just slid past the backline on a well-timed run. Hernandez flicked the ball to himself out of the air with his shoulder towards the goal. The keeper was drawn out, as they both went for the ball in the air. Hernandez made a brilliant gentle flick just over the keeper’s head as he raced out, looping the ball over, and down into the goal to make it 5-0.
The goal seemed to ignite Hernandez as he appeared keen on getting another one. He would indeed get his second goal of the match several minutes later by cleaning up a goalkeeping blunder, as the keeper dropped the ball, and Hernandez pounced on it first, sending into the back of the net.
With fifteen minutes left in the game, and the Manteo defense having to do very little defending throughout the game, they seemed to have lost their defensive urgency and focus for a minute. After a Manteo corner kick, a Panter emerged out of their own defensive third with the ball, dribbling 70 yards up the pitch with little Manteo resistance. The Manteo outside right back would be beaten off the dribble near midfield, and the two center backs continued to retreat in containment, as center defensive mid-fielder, Christian Barker chased the ball down from behind. Barker made an attempted tackle on the ball, but he got too much of the body of the Panther as well, sending him flying into the box. A penalty kick would be awarded, and the Pasquotank striker would bury it.
Five minutes later, Klotz would work to award Manteo their own penalty kick. Steven Ortega hit a high, sailing punt to midfield and Yeiffer Perez would win the ball with a great backward flick-on with his head, sending Klotz through the backline. Klotz was chased by two defenders as the Panther keeper raced out to the top of the box to meet him. Klotz played the ball around the keeper, and the keeper took out Klotz as the ball passed. Klotz would take the PK he had worked to create, and placed it nicely in the corner to make the final score, 7-1.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “The boys were fired up and ready to play tonight. From minute one, we played with energy and passion, and it paid off in a big way. We are beginning to finish our shots, making us an extremely challenging team to deal with, as we defend very well. Even with all the goals tonight and the great finishes, I was most pleased that we were the more physical team on the pitch tonight. We took it to them, making clean hard challenges all night long. It took them out of their game and gave us momentum. I hope to see more physical play from our side. Even with some standout play from key players, tonight was a great team win. As opponents check our recent box scores, I do not think anyone is looking forward to playing us, and that is exactly what we want.”