On the beautiful Monday evening of October the 2nd, the Camden Bruins traveled to Manteo to face off for their second of three conference matchups. The long-time conference rivals always make for an intriguing matchup even though the Bruins have been struggling as of late. Manteo would also take the pitch without the conference’s leading scorer, Randall Klotz, as he would have to sit out a game due to the yellow card accumulation rule. Manteo would move J Zafra up top to the striker position, and freshman, Andrew Hayman, would take over the left midfield position. Both players would make the most of their time in their positions from the start of the game.
Manteo kicked off the game, dropping the ball back to Landon Taylor before playing it up the right wing to Hernandez. The ball would be worked back and forth amongst the right midfield area, in and out of bounds for the first two minutes before Manteo would finally regain, and maintain solid possession. Edwin Perez would square the ball from the right side of the pitch to Hernandez in the middle. Hernandez took a collecting touch, picked his head up and found Zafra making his run through the back line. Hernandez put the proper weight ball playing it nicely on the ground for Zafra. Zafra held off his defender, the goalie stayed on his line, and Zafra buried it in the side netting. Manteo was again off to blistering start with another goal in the first two minutes of the game.
Just minutes later, Andrew Hayman would make his presence on the field known. Manteo had continued to dominate possession, and again was looking to combo the ball out wide as Perez passed into Zafra, and Zafra looked to play Perez back. The pass was deflected into the middle and Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez was there to take a touch towards goal. Gonzalez-Martinez would be taken down off of the ball in the box and the ball would squirt wide and back towards the goal. Hayman had been tracking the play all the way, making his inward run to the post. Hayman was there to tap the ball in for his first varsity level goal.
It was all smiles about the pitch for Manteo as they sat on a comfortable 2-0 lead throughout the first half. The Redskins continued to control the flow of the game, producing numerous scoring opportunities and quickly eliminating Camden runs of possession with pressure on the backline, and hard, quick challenges on their attacking players. The Manteo defense was stifling throughout the first half, allowing only two poor looks on the Manteo goal. Center back, Jose Velasco, lead the defense with timely challenges and hard tackles, putting forth his best game of the season.
The beginning of the second half sculpted a much different landscape in the manner of which the game was trending. Camden came out with energy and effort, and Manteo seemed content to coast on their first half lorels. The first fifteen minutes of the second half were a much more even run of possession for both teams and Camden would have several attempts on goal. One of Camden’s attempts on goal was struck from thirty yards out as the attacker was given too much space. The ball sailed over goalie Tent Jones Junior’s fingers and struck the crossbar. The ball bounced back atop the box, in which Manteo cleared the ball, negating the scoring threat.
With twenty minutes left in the game, Manteo would seem to put the game out of reach with a third goal. Manteo won a throw-in deep in their offensive third of the pitch on the left side. Taylor collected the ball and passed it back to Zafra out on the corner of the 18-yard box. Zafra crossed the ball in near the six-yard box of which a Bruin defender swung his leg high to attempt to clear the ball out. The defender mishit the ball, sending it back towards and into his own goal before the keeper could ever react. Manteo would take the momentum of the goal and take back complete control for the rest of the game.
The Redskins secured the win five minutes later with their fourth goal. Hernandez received the ball behind midfield and found himself with lots of room to dribble up the middle of the pitch. One Bruin chased Hernandez as the backline back-peddled. Upon driving the backline to their own 18-yard box, Hernandez released the ball on a through pass to a streaking Hayman. A defender got just enough on the ball to disrupt the pass to Hayman, however, he turned and pressured the defender as he tried to dribble it out of the box forcing the defender to turn the ball right back over to pressuring Perez. Perez stole the ball, pushed through the backline and fired a sharply angled shot at the keeper. The keeper knocked the ball straight down and Zafra was there to clean it up for the goal before the keeper could pounce on it.
A deflated Camden team saw little of the ball for the remainder of the game as Manteo went on to win the game by a score of 4-0. Manteo now sits atop the conference table with a conference record of 6-0. Manteo has six more conference games to play.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” We are pleased with the victory and the shutout. For large parts of the game, we played great soccer. There were sections of the game that we were too one-dimensional, and trying to force too many balls up the middle, instead of using the space out wide. However, scoring four goals on a solid team, even without Klotz is a great sign for us. I was happy to see our defense obtain another shutout, and I thought Velasco had a standout performance. We will need him to continue that type of play going forward. Zafra and Hayman were shifted to new positions with Klotz out, and they both came up big, providing all of the team’s scoring. It’s always nice when it happens like that as they make the coaching staff look good! Wednesday night, we will look to show Perquimans how much we have improved in the past few weeks.