Conference Play Begins With a Win Against Camden

Wednesday, February 10th, your Manteo Redskins traveled up into Camden County to take on the Bruins for their first conference clash of the season. Camden and Manteo have a long standing conference rivalry ever since Manteo dropped into the 1A classification back in 2004.

Prior to last season, Manteo had been on an unbeaten conference run for three consecutive years. However, Camden ended that streak last year when they beat Manteo in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through the overtime periods. Manteo was able to turn around and beat Camden at home by a score of 7-0 and win the conference title outright as Camden would also fall to the Edenton Aces later in the season.

Traveling to Camden this year, Manteo seemed mentally focused and prepared for a difficult game against a tough team. The field conditions were less than ideal for a possession based game as the torrential rain over the past two months has greatly weathered almost all Eastern North Carolina fields.

Upon a Manteo kick-off, the Redskins were able to get forward quickly and began attacking the Bruins backline. In the first five minutes of play, Manteo controlled the ball and were able to win several throw-ins in the attacking third and a corner kick. Noah Goetsch saw a couple attacking opportunities early on that led to near misses. A cross from Andrew Hayman to the back post sailed over the Bruin’s defenders and Goetsch made a looping run around the backside to get a touch off the bounce but the ball was placed just wide of the post. A free-kick in a dangerous spot just outside the 18-yard box was also taken by Goetsch, but he was unable to keep the ball down as it flew a couple feet above the cross bar.

Manteo continued to dominate the run of play throughout the first half. When the Redskins were not on the ball, they pressed high up the pitch in a team effort to win the ball back. Camden stuck to their style of play and looked to play out with short and intermediate passes in combination play up the pitch. Camden’s first look going forward in their attacking third came as their right midfielder put a rebound ball over the top of the Manteo backline for their striker to run onto. Manteo’s goalkeeper, Cody Weaver, came rushing out to the top of the box to deal with the bouncing ball in as their striker came hard for the ball as well. Weaver got to the ball first, giving it a punch away, followed by a hard-nosed collision between Weaver and the attacker. Neither could slow their pace in time to avoid a collision. The ball was then dealt with by the Manteo backline. The action at the back was all for nothing as the assistant referee had put his flag up for an offside call.

While Manteo was consistently breaking down the defensive midfield of the Bruins, they were having trouble getting clean looks on target as their final passes in the attacking third were often lacking in quality due to the rough field conditions and a backline sitting back and anticipating the final pass. Manteo then began to look for more attacking play off the dribble.

Oscar Rivera began to get on the ball often in the midfield and did well to get downhill, attacking defenders with pace. His first quality shot came after receiving a square pass from Justin Ortega-Santos. Rivera easily beat his first midfield defender with a touch around him, and then split the next two defenders with a touch forward and a burst of speed. He then attacked the gap between the center-backs atop the 18-yard box and drove the ball with his left foot. The ball was struck hard and with a bit of movement on it, but it was directly into the goalkeepers chest.

Noah Goetsch found the target shortly after with a half-volley from the top of the 18-yard box. Again, the ball was struck well with a massive dip on it, but it was straight at the goalkeeper. Attacking play from the Redskins was beginning to come thick and fast in large part thanks to center-back, Yeifer Perez, as he was an absolute beast along the midline, winning every single 50/50 that came his way. Anytime Camden tried to relieve the pressure with a long ball, Perez was there to send it back the other way and began a Manteo attack.

With less than ten minutes remaining in the first half, it was Perez that initially set up the possession for Manteo’s first goal. Perez won the ball in the air first time off a Camden punt, and headed the ball forward into the midfield. Andrew Hayman came back to collect and set the ball for Rivera to run onto. As Rivera got onto ball, dribbling right up the gut, the Bruin’s center defensive midfielder stepped up to him. Rivera froze him with a slight hesitation and cut around him. Continuing his dribble to the top of the 18-yard box, Rivera drew both of the center-backs to the inside and then sharply cut back to his left to allow just enough space to fire off a shot. Rivera rocketed the ball into the near-post upper ninety from 12 yards out. It was a well deserved goal as Rivera had been pressing the issue for some time during the first half and gave Manteo a bit of breathing room going forward.

Two minutes after going up 1-0, Manteo was awarded a free-kick on the right side of the pitch, about 30 yards out. Both Goetsch and Rivera stood over the ball, sizing up the opportunity. Goetsch deferred to the hot hand and made his way to the top of 18-yard box. Rivera struck the ball with the inside laces of his left boot, curled the ball up and over the four man wall, and dropped it right into the top corner of the far post. In just a matter of minutes, Rivera had turned the game on its head, giving Manteo a 2-0 lead to take into half time.

The first ten minutes of the second was poor play from both sides. It seemed to be ten minutes of nothing but midfield throw-ins as both sides struggled to keep the ball in play and muster up any real attacking play. In the following fifteen minute period, Camden began to push more players forward, earning more possession in their attacking third. Manteo suffered during that period, struggling to get any clean run of possession. However, during Camden’s spell of attacking play, they were still unable to manage a shot on target. Most of their final balls behind the backline were scooped by Weaver, coming off his line to take the threat away.

In the final ten minutes of the game, Manteo found their attacking prowess again with a consistent run of looks at goal. Dylan Jones, Andrew Hayman, Trent Hayman, Justin Ortega-Santos, and Noah Goetsch all had quality looks on target, but failed to find the back of the net. The game ended with a 2-0 result in favor of your Manteo Redskins.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “Overall, I am pleased with our performance. My first concern going into the game was our mental focus as we needed to take this team serious. I felt that we were focused and ready to play. Some of our attacking play was limited due to the field conditions but we still need to do a better job of finishing low and in the side netting. We should have run away with the game, but we allowed them to make the game difficult. Our midfield trio was new today, but I felt that River and Ortega-Santos played an excellent game as their work rates were top of the chart. Rivera is just now learning his new position and figuring out how to attack in it. Expect many more goals from him. I cannot say enough about the play and leadership of Perez at the back tonight. He was lights out all night with a near perfect game. His desire to win every single ball sets the precedent for our younger defenders. This is such a tough place to play, so it is great to walk away with a win and clean sheet. Well done by our boys.”

Game stats:

Oscar Rivera: 2 goals

Possession %52.6%47.4%
Attacking Transitions8180
Free Kicks1013
Successful Passes8890
Pass Success Rate50%46%

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