Smooth Sailing in the 2nd Round

On Saturday, March 20th, the Hobbton Wildcats traveled up to Roanoke Island to take on your Manteo Redskins. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon setting for a second round playoff game. The weather was a welcomed change as the entire week prior had seen nothing but wind and rain. The game was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday but severe weather pushed the game into Friday. The Wildcats were actually on the road towards Manteo on Friday morning when they got the call that the field would be unplayable on that date due to excessive standing water on the field. Saturday at 1 PM became the new and last resort day to play. Therefore, all parties involved were ecstatic to see the sun.

Hobbton won their respective conference this year, edging out Rosewood. Rosewood was the team that ended Manteo’s season last year in the third round of playoffs. Therefore, Manteo was eager to regain a leg up on the Carolina Conference.

As the game kicked off, Manteo seemed to be processing a few jitters, as their first touch and passing were lacking in the opening minutes. In the fourth minute of play, Manteo earned a corner kick to be taken by Trent Hayman. Hayman whipped the corner kick into the near post at an awkward midsection height. The ball skipped past Hobbton’s first man on the post and popped up over the goalkeeper’s hand. Carter Calvio had been sitting on the goalkeeper in the six yard box and was right there to knock it into the back of the net. Manteo took an early 1-0 lead.

The early goal certainly seemed to settle Manteo’s nerves as they began to get on the ball more and create chances in the final attacking third. Through the next twenty minutes of play, the game was a physical midfield battle. Manteo’s midfield trio of Noah Goetsch, Oscar Rivera, and Justin Ortega were tireless in their pursuit of the ball through the middle of the pitch. They gave the Hobbton midfielders little time to settle a touch and pick their head up to find their next pass.

While Hobbton really struggled to break out of the midfield and into their attacking third, Manteo continued to find ways to create scoring opportunities. In the twenty-fourth minute of play, right-back Eddie Turberville launched a long throw-in down the right flank. Andrew Hayman chased it down and dribbled into the edge of the 18-yard box. Hayman tried to cut it back and square the ball in but his defender did well to disposes him. The defender looked to pass the ball forward to his outside midfielder but Ortega read the pass and intercepted it. Ortega then split two defenders on the dribbled and muscled a third off the ball as he brought the ball to the edge of the 18-yard box. Ortega’s run drew the Hobbton center-back over towards him and Ortega squared the ball over to Calvio in the space vacated by the center-back. It was a simple well-weight pass that allowed Calvio to strike the ball on his first touch. Calvio wrapped his right foot around the ball and curled the ball with power around the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Six minutes after Manteo’s second goal, the ball fell kindly for Manteo to allow their third goal. Andrew Hayman launched a long throw-in to Goetsch, posted up inside the six-yard box. Goetsch and the defender behind him both rose up in an effort for the ball coming in to the box. The ball grazed the head of Goetsch and onto the forehead of the defender behind him. The defenders header knocked the ball into Goetsch’s back. Goetsch spun around in an instant as the ball dropped to the ground. He took it off the half-volley before anyone else could react, and slammed it home, giving Manteo a 3-0 lead.

Minutes before the halftime whistle, Manteo seemingly put the game out of reach. A corner taken by the Redskins was deflected out of the 18-yard box. Damien Rivera was waiting outside of the box, collected the ball and fired off a low shot bound for the side netting. The shot was deflected by a defender in a crowded box. This deflection was then collected by Yeifer Perez who had pushed up for the corner kick. Perez played Rivera as he moved out wide into space to receive the ball. Rivera cut inside and drew five defenders to the ball. After almost loosing it to one of the defenders, Rivera regained his balance and the ball, drove end line and rounded off a left-footed cross to the top of the six-yard box. Most of the defenders had shifted wide to Rivera, leaving Goetsch with a free header atop the six yard box. Goetsch headed it home into the side netting to give Manteo a 4-0 halftime lead.

When the second half kicked off, if you did not know the score, you would have assumed it was still 0-0. Hobbton never let down in their effort for a single second of the game.

Manteo continued to use their size advantage over Hobbton in the second half. Every time Hobbton knocked the ball out of bounds for Manteo, near the 18-yard box, it became a scoring opportunity for Manteo as they launched lethal throws into the six-yard box. Several near misses occurred in and around the six-yard in the first dozen minutes of the second half.

It was not until 16 minutes into the second half that Manteo would net another goal. Aldo Herrera did well to drive the ball down the left flank, beating his defender to the end-line and allowing enough space to send a cross to the top of the six-yard box. Richard Hernandez had been tracking the play and made a well timed run in. Hernandez struck the ball out of the air on his first touch and banged it off the upper ninety post. The ball deflected back into the middle of the box, fall to the first touch of Goetsch. Goetsch brought it down well and crushed a shot that found the unlucky backside of Hayman in front of the goal. The ball again deflected out and over, giving Hernandez one more chance. Hernandez made no mistake about this ball on the ground as he tucked it neatly into the near post side netting off his first touch. Manteo was now riding high with a comfortable 5-0 lead.

Through the rest of the game, Manteo began to rotate players heavily in an effort to save the legs of all players for the next round. With a steady rotation, the attacking prowess of the Redskins was still on full display as they continued to earn threating looks at the goal. Damien Rivera, rotated through three different positions and was seemingly everywhere. He was defending in the midfield, making attacking runs through the backline, and shooting from beyond the 18-yard box. Ivy Midgett put in a shift in the number 9 position, being physical and sticking his head and foot in on the ball any chance he got.

While the Redskins continued to threaten going forward, the Manteo backline continued to shut down the attack of the Wildcats. They kept the ball in front of them at all times and showed great discipline in their tactics. The game would end in a 5-0 result for the Redskins.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “Today was certainly our day. Throughout the game, things just seemed to go our way. We were confident in our tactics going into this game. Our coaching staff did a good job of scouting Hobbton and we understood their plan of a couple quick passes near the midline to draw the backline up, before sending their striker long over the top. We asked our backline to bend and never break, and keep everything in front and to never over commit high up the pitch. We also asked our midfield trio to work hard in the middle to disrupt all passes, making the backline’s job easier, allowing them to read and intercept poor passes. They shut down their attack all night, allowing us to focus more on our attack. I’m pleased and excited with the form we have found recently and looking forward to continuing to test ourselves in the next stage.”

Game stats:

Carter Calvio: 2 goals

Noah Goetsch: 2 goals

Richard Hernandez: 1 goal

Trent Hayman: 1 asssist

Andrew Hayman: 1 assist

Oscar Rivera: 1 assist

Justin Ortega: 1 assist

Possession %47.1%52.9%
Attacking Transitions8271
Free Kicks710
Successful Passes113160
Pass Success Rate73%75%

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