Manteo kicked off its journey through the state playoffs on Tuesday, November 11th in a home match verse Vance Charter in the second round of playoffs. Your Redskins earned the number one seed in the east, giving them a bye for the first round, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite the pending foul weather approaching later in the evening, it turned out to be a perfectly warm and windy November night for a soccer match.
The Redskins had over a week and a half off since there last regular season game. Despite a great week of practice, it would take them a little while to find their game.
The game kicked off with Manteo dropping it back and the Vance Charter Knights packing back. In the first few minutes, the Knights opted to feel out the Redskins by defending with ten men. A couple minutes into the game, they would then relax a bit, opting to allow their attackers to stretch their formation a bit more. They continued to defend with eight men throughout the fixture as Manteo controlled possession and the tempo.
Facing eight defenders atop the box, the Redskins opted to look to play the ball wide to their wingers and pump balls in. Manteo produced a lot of dangerous balls in, but they were unable to connect on the crosses early on.
The first great chance at the goal came from Erik Hernandez on a solo run up the slot. After receiving the ball in the midfield, Hernadez turned to find open space in front of him. He drove the ball forward with a midfield defender pressing from behind. As he neared the top of the box, the Knights center back was awaiting him. Hernandez made several stepovers to pass by the center back and into the box, while the trailing defender pressed on his side, knocking Hernandez off balance. Hernandez did well to keep his feet upon the stumble, regathered himself on the ball, and fire a shot that hit the outside of the near post side netting.
Minutes later, Manteo sent a ball into space down the left wing of which striker, Andrew Hayman, ran down in the corner. Hayman dropped it back to Noah Goetsch on the support pass, and Goetsch crossed it into the box for McOwen. McOwen got a touch on the volley that sent it to goal but the keeper made a fully extended diving save to push it wide of the goal.
Eighteen minutes into the game, Manteo would get on the scoreboard with a brilliant solo play from Herandez. Sam Diaz won a 50/50 ball in the midfield and quickly found Hernandez open in the center atop the box. Facing a box of four defenders, Hernandez split through three of them to make his way into the box. Drawing two defenders outside to the left in pursuit, Hernandez cut it back, stopping on a dime as the defenders went past. He spotted his target and drilled it past the keeper just as the fourth defender slid into to block the shot for his first goal of the match.
Ten minutes later, Hernandez would find the goal again. Zafra sent Hernandez through on his diagonal run outside. He took on two defenders, got in behind the line and angled his run towards the near post. Upon entering the corner of the six-yard box, Herandez again cut it back and belted it at the keeper. The ball deflected off the body of the keeper and into the back of the net.
The Knight’s keeper would regroup, and go on to make several notable saves later in the match. Minutes after giving up the second goal, Hernandez played McOwen through the backline on a diagonal ball that split two defenders and led McOwen in on the near post. As the ball set up perfectly for McOwen on his inward run, he fancied a strike the first time. He crushed it on a low line drive but it was too close to the keeper. The keeper did well to hold onto the ball without conceding a rebound.
The first half concluded with Manteo leading by a score of 2-0. The Redskins dominated the half but were unable to put away several good chances.
From the start of the second half, the Redskins were peppering the goal once again. They awarded themselves two quick shots on goal from Sam Diaz through combination play that dropped the ball back for Diaz’s shot.
Five minutes into the second half, Landon Taylor put his shooting boots on and unleashed a rocket of a shot from 30 yards out. Taylor set himself up on the dribble finding plenty of time and space to fancy a shot. It was driven well but right at the keeper. The ball had too much pace on it and the keeper opted to punch it over the goal.
When the Knights did find themselves on the ball, their possession was quickly snuffed out by Diaz holding the midfield and the rest of the stout Manteo backline.
While the Redskins completely dominated the run of play, they struggled to find their finishing touch. Zafra, Calvio, and Hayman would all have great shots on goal, but they were either saved by the keeper or went just inches wide of the post.
Midway through the second half, Vance Charter had pushed up the field a bit in possession of the ball. They were quickly turned over and Manteo looked to counter as they were pushed up. Hernandez found the ball deep in the defensive midfield and opted to dribble at pace past a plethora of defenders. Hernandez blew by them all and down into the 18-yard box and got his shot off with his left foot admist four defenders. The keeper made a diving save, pushing the ball back off the line. Zafra pounced on the rebound inside the six-yard box but the Knight’s keeper was worthy of a terrific second save, knocking the ball out of bounds.
Hernandez would not be denied on his next shot attempt. Carter Calvio worked the ball down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box. Zafra was on the near post run and Hernandez filled the middle. Zafra executed a dummy over the ball, leaving it for Hernandez. Hernandez calmly placed it into the near post side netting to cement his hat-trick on the evening.
The Redskins continued to blister the goal with shots and crosses, seeing balls hit the post and bounce inches wide, but they would fail to net any more goals on the evening. The Manteo defense made short work of any attack produced by the Knights as they looked to push numbers forward while being down 3-0.
On the evening, Manteo racked up 9 corner kicks and 36 shots of which 16 were on target.
Manteo advances to take on Franklin Academy in the third round of state playoffs. The game will be held at Manteo, November 8th, at 6 pm.