On Monday, August 16th, your Manteo Redskins traveled into Chesapeake, Virginia to take on the Beach Breakers for their season opener. It was the first game for both programs and both sides would be eager to get off to a strong start. Manteo and the Breakers used to play regularly, though it has been many years since they played each other.
The game kicked off under hot and humid conditions with ominous clouds looming to the southeast. In the opening minutes of play, both teams struggled to gain consistent possession of the ball. Play was ugly to start as the ball found its way out of bounds along the midfield sidelines to often for either team to threaten an attack. The teams were adjusting to the incredibly narrow field that saw the width of the pitch extend only five yards beyond the width of the 18-yard box. Beach’s normal playing field was unavailable for this game.
After the first five minutes, Manteo did a better job of keeping the ball on the ground and gaining possession in their attacking midfield, but still struggled to put things together in the final third as space was limited. Twelve minutes into the game, the front four of the Redskins executed a high press which saw the Breakers drop the ball back to their goalkeeper. The keeper looked to play the ball back up the pitch quickly on his first touch. His pass was miss-hit up the middle and Manteo’s right midfielder, Amyas Kenyon, had tucked inside on the press, and quickly pounced on the errand ball out the back. Kenyon struck the ball first time with his left foot, and curled the ball perfectly over the goalkeeper and just under the crossbar for Manteo’s opening goal.
The goal certainly seemed to settle the Redskins on the ball a bit more and gave them confidence to be a bit more attack minded. At the fifteen minute mark, rotational substitutions were made to provide fresh legs on the pitch. Manteo continued to see the favored run of play. The Breakers most often looked to settle the ball in their defensive midfield with one or two passes before looking to send a long ball through the Manteo backline. Manteo’s backline of Irving Calderon Chavarria, Eddie Turberville, Brian Estrada-Tovar and Alex Tovar read the long balls with ease and were able to chase them down and often play out of the back by using the center-defensive midfielders or the outside midfielders.
Twenty minutes into the first half, Manteo earned a throw-in along the final third. Turberville launched a throw into the box, finding the head of Oscar Rivera. Rivera headed the ball down and blackout to Spencer James, who was holding along the 18-yard line. James volleyed the bouncing ball on his first touch with his right foot and lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper who had crept off his goal-line for the throw into the box. The ball dropped just under the crossbar for Manteo’s second goal of the fixture.
Manteo’s third goal of the evening came after one of their best and longest spells of possession in which eight of the ten field players were involved in the build-up play and two previous attacking opportunities prior to the goal by Dylan Jones. Aiden Braswell received the ball down the right flank from Tovar as he pushed up the pitch in support of the attack. Braswell used his pace to beat his defender and play a low, driven cross into the 18-yard box. Kenyon made a diagonal run from the middle to receive the cross, dragging the center-back with him. The center-back and Kenyon both made an attempt for the ball, and it bounced past both of them to the top of the box. Jones had been making the holding run off his striker and the ball sat kindly for him to strike on the half-volley. Jones struck it well on his first touch and drove the ball into the bottom of the far-post corner, leaving the outstretched keeper not chance at a save.
Manteo took the 3-0 lead into halftime just as a large front seemed destined to end or delay the game. In the end, the front stayed just far enough to the east that the second half could get underway.
Beach came out with more energy and determination to earn attacking opportunities in the opening minutes. Their right winger was able to work the ball down into the corner of the 18-yard box on a solo run before firing off a near post shot. Manteo’s goalkeeper, Cody Weaver, was up for his first real action of the day and got a strong hand to the shot in the upper near-post corner to knock it away for a corner kick.
After weathering the initial strong attacking efforts from Beach in the opening minutes, Manteo settled back on the ball through strong midfield play, often lead by Rivera. Rivera was seemingly all over the midfield, either dispossessing the other team, or distributing the ball throughout the midfield. When a ball would squirt past the midfield defenders along the midfield line, Estrada-Tovar was always there to clean it up and start a run up the pitch on the dribble or lay the ball off to reset the possession.
At times in the second half, Manteo looked dominate on the ball, opting for short, concise passes, keep possession on the narrow field. At the hour mark, Braswell made his presence felt in a big way in a manner of three minutes. Jones began the attacking transition with a completed dribble through the middle of the pitch before laying it off to Kenyon on the right. Kenyon played a low cross to the far post as he spotted Braswell on the backside. Braswell timed his run perfectly and banged the cross in from six-yards out to give Manteo a 4-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Braswell would find the net again. He received the ball in the right slot and parried the ball around his pressing defender before chasing it down with his pace to earn a one on one with the goalkeeper. The keeper stayed on his line, giving Braswell a large target to shoot at. Braswell calmly placed the ball into the lower far-post side-netting.
The final twenty minutes were rather comfortable for the Redskins with a 5-0 lead as Beach still struggled to earn shots on goal. Their greatest threat came with only five minutes remaining in the game when they earned a free-kick resulting from a Manteo foul. The ball was spotted about 38 yards from goal, but the kick-taker only had eyes for goal. He drove the ball to the upper far-post. Manteo’s then goalkeeper, Jonathan Hernandez, got his feet moving early, tracking the long, lofty shot across the box. At the last moment, as the ball looked to drop into the top corner, Hernandez lept backwards and to his side, getting one hand to the ball to parry it out of bounds for a corner kick. It was a brilliant save that kept the clean sheet for the Redskins.
In the final minute of play, the Redskins sprung a lethal counter attack that began with great hold-up play from Jonathan Escobar-Diaz in the striker role. Escobar-Diaz received the ball in the central circle, drew defenders inward, before laying off a well-weighted diagonal pass to Jack Gregory on the run down the right flank. Gregory drove the ball down into the final third before whipping a cross into the six-yard box. The keeper had to deal with the cross and knocked it down into the middle, top of the six-yard box. Jonah Baum completed his deep run out of midfield by knocking the ball into the net before the keeper could collect the ball. Baum’s goal gave Manteo a 6-0 lead and the game would end a minute later.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was a great way to start the season. Overall we played well and we were tested at times but always weathered the storm. We got to see all our players play, and some in a variety of positions. With an overall small squad this year in terms of numbers, flexibility of positional play will be important for us. I was pleased with our defensive performance overall aside from a few too many stabs, but they did their job well. I was very pleased with our overall finishing. It was great to see our first three goals come from first time finishes and two of those were with the weak foot of the player. This has been a focus over the past year, and it’s great to see it happen in games. I look forward to testing our team against Cape Henry next week back on the road.”
Amyas Kenyon: 1 goal, 1 assist
Spencer James: 1 goal
Dylan Jones: 1 goal
Aiden Braswell: 2 goals
Jonah Baum: 1 goal
Oscar Rivera: 1 assist
|Pass Success Rate||55%||53%|