On Wednesday, October the 10th, your Manteo Redskins made the long haul back up to Gate County for the second time this season. It would be the third and final conference game between the Redskins and the Barrons. Gates has been holding strong in conference play as Edenton, Camden and Gates have all taken turns beating up on each other.
The busload to Gatesville was a little lighter than normal as two Manteo starting seniors, Bryson Casey and Erik Hernandez, were at home sick.
As the game kicked off, it resembled that of typical conference play. Manteo looked to control and play possession-based soccer throughout the midfield, and the opponent looked to throw bodies at the ball and clear it up to their attackers. While Manteo did control the overall possession, it was ugly in a sense. There were a lot of poor first touches, poor passes, poor off the ball movement and an overall lack of focus and aggression.
Despite the lack of quality play, Manteo did get off to an early start as Joe Zafra peeled off a run down the right slot, and laid it off to Taylor on the central run. Taylor fancied a shot but drew two defenders in front of him and one of them deflected his shot. It ricocheted across the box to Carter Calvio. Calvio popped the ball up and over the challenging defender and then hit a text-book half-volley with his left foot. The shot was low and hard and was enough to beat the keeper. Manteo found themselves up 1-0 just five minutes into the game but their lack of focus would come back to haunt them.
Five minutes after taking the lead, that lead would be relinquished by the Red Barrons striker. Perez turned the ball over in the midfield off a lazy pass, which was quickly launched up to the Barrons center forward. He collected the ball within the containment of Diaz and then made his move to the left around Diaz. Velasquez chased in support but paused as it appeared Diaz was going to be able to win the ball back. He did not and the striker was able to get a shot off. Velasquez attempted to cut off the shot at the last second but instead of blocking it, the ball took a slight deflection off his leg. The deflection was just enough redirection on the shot to leave Manteo’s keeper, Jones Jr., frozen as the ball found the back of the net.
Just like that, it was 1-1 and Manteo found their opponent fired up.
Ten minutes after the equalizer, Manteo found their second goal off a corner kick. The ball was played in nicely and headed down by Hayman. The ball bounced around the six-yard box in traffic, finding its way to Goetsch. Goetsch dropped the ball back out of the traffic to Calvio atop the box. Calvio hit it one time. It was placed low and in the side netting.
Calvio was filling in nicely in the midfield for the absentee Hernandez, but his match would end five minutes after his second goal. He was taken down on a hard challenge and unable to continue the match. Calvio’s injury was just minutes after Manteo’s holding midfielder, Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez, was taken down as well.
Manteo now found themselves missing four quality players on the evening. Substitutes were in short supply as Manteo 18 man roster was now down to just 14.
With the shortened roster and adjusted positions, the Redskins struggled a bit to properly run their formation as they normally do. The chemistry was off just enough to create a disconnect in the transition from the midfield into the final offensive third.
Manteo would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead after missing several great opportunities, including a one verse one against the goalie.
Missed opportunities were the story of the second half for the Redskins. There were seemingly three or four moments when a goal seemed inevitable, yet the opportunities we squandered.
Manteo would, however, capitalize on yet another corner kick. The ball was played in and knocked down by a Gates defender. Diaz was there to clean it up on the half-volley, striking it just under the cross-bar for Manteo’s third goal.
Diaz would later step up out of the center-back position to intercept a ball and make a vertical run from the midfield into the final third. As he drew a defender, Diaz laid it off to Taylor making a parallel run. Taylor received the ball and touched it into the box amidst several defenders. A defender flew in from behind and slid tackled Taylor, missing the ball and taking him down in the box. The assistant referee immediately put his flag up yet the center referee told him to put his flag down and play on.
Taylor would get his goal minutes later after receiving a wonderfully weighted and accurate pass out of the midfield from Brayan Hernandez. Taylor’s first touch placed the ball beyond the last defender and into the box. He then calmly finished with a low shot past the keeper.
With the score now 4-1, the Redskins were a bit more comfortable but continued to squander dead-on scoring opportunities.
With three minutes remaining in the game, the Barrons sent a ball into the far left side of the 18-yard box. Perez and the Red Barron’s striker both went hard for the ball. Perez made a text-book shoulder to shoulder challenge and both bodies went to ground on the challenge. The referee blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. It was an interesting decision given the previous penalty waved off earlier in the game. The Gates striker buried the penalty kick and the game would end in a 4-2 victory for the Redskins.
Manteo had 13 corner kicks, 24 total shots and 12 shots on target. Three of the four goals were assisted. Trent Jones Jr. had twelve saves on the evening.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “In a game like this when we are without some of our top players, we needed others to step up and take over. It did not happen as I hoped for. Pendleton was the only player who was focused and played hard for 80 total minutes. We had our moments of solid play, but the lack of focus kept us from dominating the game in the manner that we should of. We will refocus our collective efforts for a big three-game week next week.”