On Wednesday, October 3rd, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Edenton to take on the Aces in their first matchup of the season. Their previously scheduled game was postponed to a later date due to Hurrican Florence, therefore, Manteo will host the Aces in back to back games. Edenton proved to be Manteo’s most challenging conference opponent last year, as they only lost the three games to the Redskins in conference play.
Manteo knew that going into the game, Edenton has a fast, skilled striker up top, and they are not afraid to push up and go for it offensively. The plan was to body up on the striker, keep him in check, and force someone else to make a play for the Aces. Knowing their propensity to push numbers forward, Manteo felt confident in their ability to put but a handful of balls into the back of the Aces net. It would come down to execution.
Upon kickoff, Manteo controlled the midfield possession and earned two early corners. The corners failed to produce any real dangerous attempt on goal, even though the Redskins would win both balls in the air. Manteo would look to capitalize on the Aces hesitation to attack balls in the air later in the game.
When Edenton did win a bit of the ball, they quickly looked to finder their striker, number 17. Edenton would win the first great opportunity on goal seven minutes into the game as they played a long ball out of the midfield, over the Manteo backline. Manteo’s center-back, Jose Velasco, would run it down with ease while the Ace’s number 17 pressured hard from behind. Velasco turned it out wide to the corner of the 18-yard box but the Ace’s striker would turn him over upon that point. The striker drove the end line and pass it across to the top of the six-yard box to find his supporting attacker. The ball was struck first time and on target, but Trent Jones Jr. made a brilliant adjustment on the line and ate it up comfortably.
The Manteo backline was reminded by the coaching staff to keep tabs on number 17 and to body up, never allowing freedom to run into space at pace.
From there, Manteo settled in nicely and began to take over the game. The Manteo midfield trio of Hernandez, Taylor, and Diaz began to create wonderful opportunities for the Redskins. It was Hernandez that would get the away side on the scoreboard about twenty minutes into the game.
Hernadez received the ball in the center midfield and played Joe Zafra as he held the center forward position. Zafra held it for a second and played Hernandez back as he continued his vertical run up the pitch. Hernandez had his man-mark following closely as he received the ball. He turned him to the inside, then spun back around to the outside, shielding his man-mark from the ball as he entered the 18-yard box. Just before the second defender crashed that ball, Hernandez released his shot for the far post. It was placed low, passing the keeper, clanking the inside of the far-post and spun into the goal.
With 15 minutes left on the first half clock, Sam Diaz stepped hard on a challenge right at the midfield line. Diaz won the ball under control and made a vertical run forward into space. As he was chased towards the top of the box, he drew the attention of the Ace’s center-back, pulling him over to stop Diaz’s run. Andrew Hayman was in the center forward position for Manteo and he peeled off the center-back into space. Diaz picked his head up, found Hayman across the box and Hayman hit it one time. The ball stung the net just under the crossbar.
Just five minutes later, Hernandez threw the ball along the left midfield. He targeted Taylor, but the defender knocked it away before Taylor could fully collect it. The ball was played back out and Hernandez tracked it off the sideline. Once he collected it with forward momentum, he had his sights set on goal yet there were two defenders in his way outside of the box. Hernandez slipped out to the left with the ball and then cut sharply back in on his right foot, creating space. Hernandez sent a curling shot around the keeper that left him pointing fingers at defenders and the Redskins jogging back to the midline with a 3-0 half-time lead.
During half-time, Manteo digressed upon the first half and felt they could play much better.
In the second half, with a comfortable lead, the Redskins came out and continued to dominate the run of play. The Aces struggled to get their top striker involved in the run of play.
A ground level fog set in during the second half as the early humidity of the day gave way to cooler temperatures.
Zafra found his focus and energy up top for Manteo and made numerous brilliant diagonal runs and crossing routes with overlapping midfielders. He would be rewarded for his efforts off a corner kick from Taylor. Zafra tracked it well and found himself in a lot of space within the back of the six-yard box. He headed the ball back in the direction from which it came, into the back of the net.
Manteo would again score off another corner kick ten minutes later when Hernandez played a ball in that found Yeifer Perez up for the corner. Perez tracked in in the traffic, dipped his head to make contact, and looped it into the far-post side netting.
As Manteo continued to pepper the goal, the Aces would make a keeper change while down 5-0. The new keeper came in and made two great saves right off the bat, both of which were off Hernandez. On a powerful header from Hernandez, the keeper got the slightest of touches to deflect it on to a fellow defender. On another strike on goal from Hernandez, the keeper gave a solid punch, deflecting it just wide of the post.
Manteo would make the score 6-0 off yet another corner. This time the ball was played short to Calvio, and then back to Hernandez. Hernandez turned the corner on one defender and unleashed a low, hard shot that found its way through a sea of bodies and past the keeper.
The Aces would not go down without a fight. They were awarded a free kick after a Manteo foul just on their side of midfield. Edenton’s number 17 stood over the ball, 40 yards from goal. The striker only had eyes for goal and fancied a strike. He struck it well on the laces and sent it knuckling through the air at a blistering pace. The strike took Jones Jr. by surprise and raced just passed his outstretched hand into the back of the net for Edenton’s first and only goal of the evening.
Unshaken by the opposing goal, Manteo retaliated minutes later when Taylor would collect a deflected shot amidst several defenders in the box, and took a quick strike. He kept it low and on target and the keeper could only turn in surprise to watch Manteo’s seventh goal of the game.
The game would end with 7-1 victory in favor of your Manteo Redskins.
On the game, Manteo racked up 12 corner kicks, 23 total shots, and 14 shots on target. All seven of the goals were assisted.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We are really starting to increase our offensive efficiency as we place more and more shots on target and more in the back of the net. Our backline did well tonight to stifle their top striker. Hayman and Goetsch stepped up and played very well tonight and after I challenged Zafra at halftime, he had a brilliant second half. We will continue to push ourselves and look for ways to improve.”