On October 23rd, the Manteo Redskins hosted the Perquimans Pirates for their third and final conference match-up of the regular season. It was a perfect evening for a soccer match as the temperature remained in the lower 70’s with a stiff, cooling breeze. The first time Manteo hosted Perquimans, they struggled to score, even though they tallied up a plethora of shots on goal and would win by a score of 1-0. In their second contest in Hertford County, the Redskins won in convincing fashion by a score of 7-1. Perquimans parked the bus in all contest, making it difficult for Manteo in their final offensive third. However, the Perquimans field is as wide as it is long, and it gave Manteo ample space to isolate and expose backline defenders. Manteo’s narrower field makes Perquimans’ defensive tactics more effective, but Manteo has been burning a hole in the back of the net all month long. The stage was set for a classic offensive verse defense showdown.
Manteo has already wrapped up the conference title, but make no mistake about it, they still have a lot to play for. Manteo must win out on the season to maintain their 8th overall ranking in the state 1A classification, and they currently sit at 3rd in the eastern division. They are playing for the highest possible seed in playoffs, and with that comes more playoff games with home-field advantage. Manteo traveled to both Whiteville and Wallace-Rose Hill the last two years, which are 5-6 hour bus rides. Therefore, Manteo understands the importance of home-field advantage all too well.
It was senior night for Manteo, and along with senior festivities, Chris Henderson of Manteo would be sworn in by his Army recruiter, as he will join the Armed Forces this coming January.
Upon kickoff, Manteo took early control of the ball, passing it about the midfield, and switching the point of attack through their backline. Perquimans sat eight and sometimes nine players back atop the box to defend. Manteo would work one side of the pitch, and when the ball could not be properly played through, they showed great patience in their attack by dropping it all the way to their backline and switching the point of attack to the other side. The idea seemed to be to draw Perquimans out of their defensive shell a bit. At times it worked, but often they would resist the high press and sit back patiently to defend as an entire team.
Manteo played the beautiful game. They created tight triangles for combination passing, pulled up their outside backs for drop balls in support in order to switch, and showed great build up in their attack.
Manteo’s first goal was a great example of just that. Under pressure, Manteo’s center midfielder, Eric Hernandez, dropped a ball back to left defensive back, William Pendleton. Pendleton drew a defender in the midfield, and then played it back to Hernandez showing wide into space. Hernandez would turn to find Noah Goetsch downline. Goetsch would take a touch down the line, only to pick his head up to find the striker, Randall Klotz. Klotz drew immediate pressure on the ball, so he made a backheel pass to Hernandez continuing his run into space up the field. Hernandez drew three defenders as he approached the 18-yard box, and he laid it off nicely to Klotz on the run into the outside of the box. Klotz took one touch then crushed it far post, upper ninety, at a sharp angle. The keeper did not even have time to blink, let alone attempt a save on the strike.
Not long after Manteo’s first goal, they would find the back of the net again. This time the strike would come off the foot of freshman, Noah Goetsch. Manteo was working the right wing deep in their offensive third. Edwin Perez could not turn the corner, so he dropped it all the way back to right-back, Sam Diaz, coming up to support the attack. Diaz played it right back to Perez, who one-touched it inside to Hernandez. Hernandez turned the ball inside to his left foot and had a crack. The keeper made a finger-tip save to edge the ball off the post and back into play for Perez. Perez laid the ball across the goal line. Both the keeper and Klotz made an attempt on the ball, but their collision negated either touch, and the ball found an awaiting Goetsch at the far post. Goetsch made no mistake about his one-touch strike and roofed it into the back of the net.
Manteo dominated the entire first half so much so that Perquimans had yet to get the ball into Manteo’s 18-yard box. That was until there were 15 seconds left in the first half. Manteo received a throw-in near midfield but they seemed content to let the clock expire. Carter Calvio of Manteo threw the ball in, but no one from Manteo moved towards the ball. Perquimans’ speedy number five burst past two players, chested it forward, flicked it over one Manteo center back, and then flicked the ball over keeper Trent Jones Jr. as he came out. Several Redskins chased the bouncing ball down in a last-ditch effort, but the ball found the net with next to no time left on the clock. A dominating first-half performance was quickly neutralized by a five-second lapse of focus and Manteo was seemingly in a ball game.
The second half was similar to the first half. The Redskins dominated possession, and Perquimans rarely worked the ball into Manteo’s defensive third.
Manteo would put the game out of reach for the offensively inefficient Pirates with their third goal. Hernandez controlled the ball in the midfield and found Carter Calvio making a centric, overlapping run into space. Calvin collected on the run, and then made a well-weighted pass that split two backline defenders to Goetsch. Goetsch drew the defender’s attention just before making a leading pass to Klotz on a well-timed run, right through the gut of the 18-yard box. Klotz sized up the keeper and struck it one time into the far post side netting.
Klotz would later complete the hattrick with a rebound goal. The Redskins would go on to win the game by a score of 4-1. The Redskins were pleased to see the final whistle as Perquimans began to be a bit chippy, notching 2 yellow cards in the second half, alongside several hard tackles from behind. A victory and an injury free effort made it a win-win. Playing conference opponents three times each may be proving to be a poor idea as tensions rise each match-up.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” I thought we played really well tonight. We dominated the run of the play, and aside from the momentary lapse of focus at the end of first half, I have very little to critique of our players. However, hopefully, that lapse in focus will serve as a timely lesson going into playoffs. It was great to see all of our seniors playing and play so well for us. Chris Henderson and Christian Barker gave us great minutes at the central defensive midfield position tonight. Klotz and Hernandez were dominating again, and Goetsch has stepped up in a big way providing great combo play all night long to couple a goal and an assist for himself. Carter Calvio had a terrific second half as well, really connecting layers of the formation with brilliant passes. We will look to finish up conference play on the right foot Wednesday night against Edenton.”