On Wednesday, September 1st, your Manteo Redskins traveled into Currituck County to take on the Knights. In a sense, it is a conference rivalry renewed, as Currituck and Manteo were long time conference foes prior to the 2004 opening of First Flight High School and Manteo dropping down to division 1A. The two schools are once again conference opponents as a new split 2A/3A conference has formed following the most recent realignment.
The pre-game warm-ups were put on hold due to a near by lightning strike that placed both teams inside the school building for thirty minutes while the storm passed. Despite the delay, the game got underway on time and under clear skies with a stiff breeze. It was a welcome weather change from the recent three week run of 90 degree heat.
Manteo kicked off and put Currituck’s defense quickly to the test. The Redskins possessed the ball well with quick, simple combination play but the Currituck defense was stout in opening five minutes. Manteo registered their first shot on target after Amyas Kenyon won a 50/50 ball near the midline and played Trent Hayman through the high line. Hayman used his pace to easily pass his marker. He opted for the shot on his first touch from outside the 18-yard box, but the goalkeeper was up for the task with a diving save.
Currituck often looked to play out of the back from goal-kicks or when their goalkeeper was in possession. Manteo employed a high press that gave the Knights significant trouble to play cleanly out the back. Kenyon led the press, giving it direction, while Manteo’s outside midfielders were able to close down the wide options quickly, and Manteo’s fullbacks could clean up most balls that made it to the midline.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Manteo saw one of their best attacking transitions that began with right-back, Alex Tovar, dispossessing a Knight in his defensive end. Tovar shielded the ball before dropping the ball back to center-back, Brian Estrada Tovar. Estrada Tovar kept the ball going backward to the goalkeeper, Cody Weaver. The backwards passes drew the Knights high up the pitch. Weaver played out to Manteo’s other center-back, Eddie Turberville, who quickly played forward up the middle to the center defensive midfielder, Cristian De Leon Ventura, who was checking to the ball. Ventura beat one defender on the dribble before laying it off to Manteo’s central attacking midfielder, Dylan Jones. Jones played a quick, short diagonal to an overlapping midfielder, Damien Rivera. Rivera kept the flow of the transition and played Hayman out wide. Hayman lofted a cross up to the top of the 18-yard box for Kenyon and Aiden Braswell. The cross was a bit behind both players, but Braswell adjusted, won the ball and faced up his defender. A hesitation move allowed Braswell to beat his defender wide and turn the corner inside the box. The keeper came rushing out and Braswell opted for the chip shot. He was just inches off on his chip attempt as the keeper was able to snatch it out of the air with his finger-tips. While the attack fell short in the end, Manteo was beginning to find their passing groove with successive two to three touch play.
Manteo continued to mount pressure on the Knight’s defense, particularly down the right flank. In the nineteenth minute, Kenyon again won a 50/50 ball to bust loose down the sideline, cutting in to fire off a shot. The shot would be denied but the left side of Currituck’s defense was bending near the breaking point. Just a couple minutes later, Weaver distributed the ball with a throw out to the midline, in which Justin Ortega brought it down under pressure and released Hayman down the flank. Hayman again used his blistering paced to easily pass his defender and take two dribbles into the 18-yard box. Hayman then cut the ball inside as he drew the keeper to the near post. Braswell made a well timed run into the middle of the box and tapped the ball home to give Manteo a 1-0 lead.
In the final 15 minutes of the first half, Manteo continued their attacking pressure on the Knights, but their overall finishing was poor. On the other side of the ball, Manteo did well to contain the Knights and limit any real threatening chances. Any real attacking threats Currituck were able to muster most often came from a foul by Manteo in the midfield in which the Knights could then push forward and service the box.
Manteo entered the half with a 1-0 but likely were not happy with only a slim lead as they felt they could of done better with their chances created.
The second half got underway in much of the same fashion as the first half. Manteo saw the better off possession and in more attacking positions. When Currituck did get on the ball, they were able to string three to four passes together, but rarely past the high backline of the Manteo defense.
With only fourteen minutes remaining in the game, Braswell seemingly put the game to bed with his second goal of the evening. On one of the rare occasions that Currituck worked the ball deep into Manteo’s defensive third, Tovar dispossessed the attacker by muscling him off the ball. Tovar quickly played the ball up the line to Hayman. Hayman took a couple dribbles just behind the midline as Braswell made a well timed diagonal run out of the middle of the pitch. Hayman played Braswell through the backline, past the high full-back, with only the center-back to chase him down. Braswell won the ball first and made a touch around the center-back, giving him a direct path to goal. Braswell’s touch beyond the defender led him inside the box, but outside the near post with a difficult shooting angle. He cut the ball back inside as a recovering defender came crashing in. Braswell avoided the second challenger before getting off a shot with his left foot. The shot beat the goal-keeper to his left to give Manteo a 2-0 lead.
In the waning minutes of the game, Currituck looked the force the issue and did a better job of getting forward with the ball. Manteo also seemed to be loosing their fitness in the remaining ten minutes. In the end, the whistle blew, giving Manteo their first conference victory of the season.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “Overall, this was a great result for us. A win and clean sheet against a tough opponent on their home field. It’s a great way to start conference play. We had moments where the style of play we have been working on was evident and effective. Other times, our shape and discipline broke down due to both physical and mental fatigue. We will need to play a more complete game against them next week and we must certainly do a better job of winning 50/50 balls in the air. However, I am pleased with the progress we have made since our last game.”
Aiden Braswell: 2 goals
Trent Hayman: 1 assist
|Pass Success Rate||66%||56%|