On the 22nd day of August, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Barco to take on the Currituck Knights. The varsity game was preceded by the JV game in which the the home-side won by a score of 3-1. The varsity team tried to find relief from the intense heat and humidity in the shade while they cheered on their younger counterparts. Currituck has proven to be a formidable foe over the last decade as Coach Davis does a great job of training and organizing her squad each year. During last year’s contest with Currituck, Manteo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but took their foot off the gas in the second half allowing Currituck to score a late equalizer, ending the game in a 2-2 draw. Manteo was focused and determined to never let that happen again and to play the full 80 minutes.
Playing the full 80 minutes would prove more difficult than anticipated with the extreme heat factoring in as a second opponent to overcome. As the game kicked off, Manteo took early control of possession and was much more patient on the ball than the opposing side. Currituck looked to play direct when given their time on the ball. Manteo’s back-line snuffed out the early attempts at long balls with no problem but did give up a free-kick in the middle, 30 yards from goal. The player on the ball went to goal with his strike but Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., scooped it up with ease.
Manteo’s first attempt at goal was much more threatening, especially in the build up. Eric Hernandez found himself upon the left midfield with the ball on a counter attacking opportunity. He drew the right-back defender wide, stepped over with a faint outside before cutting inside while splitting the defender in front and the man on his back. He set his right foot up nicely, but in the end he did not get the contact on the ball he desired. It was an easy save for the keeper but the Redskins appeared to find an early weakness on the outside of Currituck’s formation.
Manteo kept constant pressure on the Knight’s back-line as their next attempt on goal came from Noah Goetsch winning the ball in the air from a goal kick. Goetsch flicked it on for Joe Zafra up top. The ball fell to the feet of their center-back, but Zafra pressed hard, forced a turnover, and he was off with eyes only for goal. Zafra found the time and space in the box to get his shot off on the brake away but the keeper made a nice kick save as he came out to close down the ball.
Manteo had appeared to take an early lead off a corner kick by Hernandez that sent Calvio crashing in for the header into the back of the net. However, the official called the goal back and awarded Calvio a yellow card as he claimed he purposely used his hand to put the ball in the net. The tape says otherwise and Manteo would play on.
The Manteo midfield began to control the run of play as Hernandez, Calvio, Taylor and Goetsch provided simple and effective combination play to work the ball into the offensive third.
Hernandez was really starting to find his confidence on the ball as he continued to take on defenders, slicing and dicing his way into the box. After the fourth time of doing so, it seemed inevitable that one of his deep runs would result in a goal. The fifth run started with a great ball played down the line by William Pendleton. Hernandez ran onto it down the left midfield, drawing a hard pressing defender. Confident and patient on the ball, Hernandez controlled it into the box, attacking the near post. He cut inside and then back outside, forcing the defender to spin around and loose the ball. Dragging the ball towards the end-line, he found his mark as striker, Andrew Hayman, made a late run into the center of the six yard box. The ball was played across, low, with a slight touch from the defenders foot. The ball popped up on Hayman, but he calmly tapped it in for Manteo’s first goal.
In the remaining time of the first half, Manteo held strong to there 1-0 lead with stout, physical defending from outside backs, William Pendleton and Yeifer Perez.
Halftime was a welcome break as several players on both sides were suffering under the extreme heat conditions. Manteo was reminded of last years game, and to not relinquish their effort or the lead.
While the Manteo side played well in the first half, it was not their greatest showing as a few players were a bit sluggish in the heat. The second half provided a slight cooling relief, and the Redskins looked much better. To start the half, Manteo switched up their personnel in the midfield to utilize the width of the pitch, and to expose the weaker outside backs of the Knight’s back-line. The first ten minutes of the second half, Manteo dominated the run of play, working the left side of the pitch relentlessly, wearing down the defenders.
Combination play amid Hernandez, Calvio, and Taylor was vexing the home-side as the trio formed tight triangles all over the midfield to pass around the defenders. Manteo’s second goal appeared to be developing as Calvio won the ball in the center midfield, dribbled diagonally before stopping on a dime to lay the ball off for a streaking Hernandez. Manteo’s number 10 used his momentum from the run to break cleanly through the back-line. His third touch on the ball drew wide, yet he placed a forceful strike on the ball. The keeper had positioned himself well and punched it down out of harms way.
The Redskins second goal was a beautiful run of possession as it began with the keeper, Jones Jr., rolling the ball out for Perez. Ryan McOwen drew wide to the sideline, dragging a defender with him, opening up space in the middle for a show from Hernandez. Perez played Hernandez up the gut as McOwen then timed his run down the line. Hernandez played a nice diagonal ball out in front of McOwen. Running on to it, McOwen hit it first time as the ball entered the right edge of the 18 yard box. The ball was drilled right past the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the far, top corner. McOwen will not officially state whether it was a cross or a shot, however, a goal is a goal, and it was his first official varsity soccer goal.
Manteo continued to control the overall possession and pace of the game, finding lots of space outside to attack and get in behind the line. Calvio was the utility man of the game as he played left midfield, center midfield, right midfield and center defensive midfield positions all throughout the game allowing other players to cool off on the bench.
Center-back and team captain, Bryson Casey stated after the game that ” we were slacking in our press in the first half due to the heat and some players lack of hydration. We did much better in the second half, pressing harder and controlling the game.” When asked about the forthcoming match against First Flight on Monday, Casey stated, ” If we effectively apply our tactical changes and clean up our mistakes, the game is ours to win.”
Manteo will take on First Flight on Monday the 27th, at 6 pm, at First Flight High School. JV plays at 4 pm.