On Friday, the 29th of September, the Manteo Redskins made the long haul to Gates County to face off against the Red Barrons. This would be the second of three conference match-ups against Gates County this season. When the two teams first met weeks ago, Manteo won the game by a score of just 2-0, even though they posted a total of 43 shots. The Redskins have been finishing much better since then, and the trend would continue.
Playing on the Red Barrons narrow and short football field, where no ground pass plays nicely on the bumpy field, the Redskins would look to tighten up their passing triangles, keeping things simple. Manteo would dominate possession early and often again as Gates provided little pressure on the ball in the midfield. Five minutes into the match, Manteo would get on the scoreboard with a goal from Randall Klotz.
Eric Hernandez received the ball out wide, deep on the right flank. He played a low cross into the box to J Zafra, who would take a shot on goal. The keeper would make a great save pushing the ball back out, only to have Klotz there to clean it up and put it in the back of the net. Klotz and the rest of the team would continue to crash the net all night, attaining several rebound goals during the contest.
Edwin Perez would score Manteo’s second goal of the game by cleaning up a Hernandez shot on goal that the keeper pushed back out wide. Perez calmly placed it by the keeper. On the third goal, Klotz would clean up a Zafra strike on target. Klotz would knock it in from two yards out. Klotz would then clean up a Hernandez strike with his head from one yard out.
The Redskins hunger to score was paying off in a big way as they outhustled the Red Barrons each time to the ball.
Manteo’s fifth goal and Klotz’s fourth of the match was a beauty. Hernandez would receive a ball out wide on the left wing from Zafra. Zafra cut into the box as Hernandez collected and cut back to face the box. He sent the timely ball atop the six-yard box to Klotz who was standing at the near post. Klotz would flick the ball on with his head into the far post side netting.
Riding the momentum of the half, Manteo would score twice more in the first half. The sixth goal of the half was all Hernandez. He received the ball deep in midfield and dribbled up the middle past several defenders. Hernandez would cut the ball inside to his right foot twenty-five yards out and have a crack. He struck it low and hard, and it blazed by the keeper just inside the near post. The keeper could only stand and stare.
J Zafra would give the red-hot Klotz a spell at the striker position, and he would make the most of his ten minutes up top. Zafra brought an aerial pass out of the air with his chest just outside of the 18-yard box. He turned the ball out wide, beating two chasing defenders. Zafra would then make one last cut back inside towards goals setting himself up for the right-footed strike. Striking it from eight yards out, Zafra would not miss from there and celebrated his second goal of the season. The half would conclude with Manteo on top at the half by a score of 7-0, with a steady stream of subs in and out.
In the second half, the Redskins would still dominate possession, but the scoring would slow down as Manteo utilized all of their players in different positions.
The Red Barrons would find glimpses of life through several defensive blunders by Manteo. In a game where defenders had almost nothing to do all game long, it can be easy to lose focus during the game. This seemed to be the case as Manteo would allow three ugly goals in the second half.
The first goal conceded was off a free kick near midfield for the Barrons. The ball was sent into the box and keeper, Jones Jr., came out to collect it out of the air. Jones took his eye off the ball as two players ran towards him and the ball went right through him and into the net.
The second goal was given up off a miscommunication between backup keeper, Ortega, and center back Velasco. A ball had been sent over the backline, and Ortega came out of his box to the ball as Velasco looked to shield it for the keeper clearance. The weak clearance hit Velasco, and the ball dropped at the top of the box. Ortega, Velasco, and now Casey all danced about the ball, but no one cleared it. A Red Barron came in and won the ball, and struck it into the back of the net.
The third goal allowed by the Redskins towards the end of the half was again due to a failed clearance by backline defenders on a long ball to the left striker. The ball was allowed to bounce twice inside the box, and the Manteo defenders seemed in no hurry to get it out, as again a Barron came in to win the ball. The striker hit a nice side volley for their third goal.
While the Red Barrons looked for positives to take away in their three goals, it was a clearly dominating performance by the Redskins, and seemed to have been a game that could have easily ended in a mercy score of 9-0, had the Redskins not taken their foot off the gas. Hernandez added one more goal for the Redskins in the second half with a blistering strike from the left corner of the 18-yard box to make the final score 8-3.
Manteo is now 5-0 in conference play, and two games ahead in the league table.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We are really starting to play great soccer. We are applying everything we practice in the games now. We are following up shots, we are timing our runs better, crossing the ball much better, and scoring in various ways from multiple positions. Even with the whole team chipping in, Klotz and Hernandez have been on fire lately, and are clear standouts amid other conference players. Landon Taylor has been playing brilliantly as well lately, being involved in everything from the central defensive midfield position. Zafra was back on track this evening and made things happen all night long. Our entire bench came in and contributed and it is wonderful to see everyone playing so well. Out boy’s are playing hard, and hungry to accomplish our goals for this season.”