Redskins Fall to the Crusaders In Season Opener

The 2019 Manteo boy’s soccer season kicked off with a match at Catholic High School in Virginia Beach this past Tuesday. It is an often enough tradition that Catholic and Manteo both begin their seasons by playing each other as it is always a relatively even and hard-fought match each year. This year’s opener would be no different.

Two seasons ago, while visiting the Catholic Crusaders, Manteo took a 3-0 loss but they returned the favor last year at home with a 3-1 victory.

Manteo has prepared for the season so far with a round-robin of scrimmages with local teams in Currituck, followed by a game against a stacked alumni team. After losing nine seniors last year, Manteo is a young and talented squad with only ten upper-classmen, one sophomore, and four freshmen comprising the varsity roster.

With a 4:30 PM kick-off, the match began in the mid-day sweltering heat. Manteo kicked-off with a short early run of possession but the game quickly settled into a midfield battle.

Manteo’s young backline struggle to organize early on, allowing a free runner to receive a dangerous through ball in the right slot into the 18-yard box. Manteo’s left-back, Alex Tovar, made a great recovery run to push the attacker off the ball just as he was shooting to send the ball well over the bar.

Manteo’s second attempt at goal was their most promising of the match and one that was brought forth through limited touches on the ball in quick combinations throughout the layers of the formation. It began with a midfield throw-in from the winger, Richard Hernadez to freshman, Trent Hayman. Hayman took the throw off his chest and flicked it inward to the center midfielder, Carter Calvio as he made a diagonal run inside. Calvio quickly played a hard pass over to J Zafra streaking in from the left flank. On his second touch, Zafra sent another diagonal ball through the backline of the Crusaders and into the 18-yard box for the striker, Oscar Rivera. Rivera let the ball run across his body before striking it well with his right foot towards the near post. The keeper made a fully extended, diving save to touch the ball around the post and out for a corner kick.

In the final ten minutes of the first half, Manteo began to take more control of the midfield battle, owning 64% of the possession in that ten-minute time frame. They found success in sending diagonal balls out wide from the back and from the midfield and using the speed of their rotation of wingers to break down the Catholic defense.

Trent Hayman did well to beat his defender after receiving a diagonal ball out wide from the freshman center back, Brian Estrada-Tovar, and Hayman played a nice ball across the box that was then shot over the bar by the center forward.

Richard Hernandez would replace Hayman on the right-wing minutes later to again test their left-back. Hernandez was played into the attacking width by a beautiful long diagonal ball sent from Calvio out of the back of the midfield. Hernandez drove the ball down into the box with his defender pressing behind him on the inside. Hernandez cut back and then inside around the defender with just the keeper to beat. His shot was well off target, sailing over the crossbar, and taking the keeper off the hook.

The first half ended in a 0-0 tie with Manteo holding 45% of the possession in that half, with one shot on target to zero shots on target for the Crusaders. \

The second half would be short-lived and highly unfavorable for the Redskins.

Six minutes into the second half, a Crusader attacker received the ball outside the 18-yard box. With the Manteo backline in good defensive positioning, he opted for an outside shot. The shot was blocked but the attacker pressed the ball quickly in an attempt to shoot again. His shot was again blocked and fell into a cluster of bodies within the 18-yard box. The ball was bounced around as Manteo frantically tried to clear it for good yet the ball kept being knocked back down. All the sudden the ball deflected off the torso of the attacker, bounced through towards the six-yard box, and the attacker slid through to volley it past Manteo’s keeper, Steven Ortega.

Just minutes later, Manteo gave up a second goal. While the first goal came with a bit of luck for the Crusaders, the Redskins have only themselves to blame for the second goal with a series of defensive blunders. It began with a long throw-in from the Crusaders that improperly cleared back into the middle of the field by one of the center backs, followed by another poor clearance from the other center back. The ball popped out to their attacking midfielder and Manteo failed to put any pressure on the ball, allowing him time and space to pick his head up and play a ball into the box. The Manteo defender waited on the ball as the Crusader attacked the ball in the air, winning it and knocking it down into the box for a shot. Ortega made a great save on the initial shot but the rebound was up for grabs and another attacking player for the Crusaders beat three Manteo defenders to the ball to put the ball in the back of the net.

Minutes later, with 30 minutes remaining in the game, lightning struck and the game was postponed and later called due to severe weather.


Game Stats

Possession %
Attacking Transitions
Free Kicks
Successful Passes
Pass Success Rate
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “While it is always tough to start the season with a loss, we played well overall. We are a young team that still needs time to learn the finer points of the game. We have a ton of talent, but we have a lot to learn. I’m really excited for this season as I feel that by mid to late season, we will again be one of the best 1A teams in the state.”

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