On Wednesday, September 15th, your Manteo Redskins crossed the Washington Baum Bridge for the first fixture of the Dare Derby against cross-town rivals, First Flight. In the previous season, Manteo and First Flight were only able to play once due to quarantine procedures, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie. This is the first year that the two rivals have ever been in the same conference, only upping the stakes along with bragging rights.
The Nighthawks’ season has been off to a slow start in terms of playing games, as their team was quarantined just before they were supposed to play their first game three weeks ago. The derby would be only their second game of the season, but undoubtedly, they would be ready.
By the time kick-off was upon us, the stands were already filled to capacity, and ‘standing room only’ was the phrase to best describe the sideline. It seems the community expected a good game, and both teams would not disappoint on the evening.
As the game got underway, First Flight was on the ball early and often. The Nighthawks did a great job of moving the ball quickly with simple short passes, off the ball movement, and playing two-three touch soccer. The Redskins kept a solid defensive shape to negate any serious penetration early on and looked to press high on the backline whenever possible. Manteo’s striker, Amyas Kenyon, was relentless all night in leading the high press, which would become more effective as the game wore on.
In the first ten minutes, First Flight certainly saw the better of play, keeping the ball mostly on their side, and earned a few shots, but they struggled to get any shots on frame to test the Manteo goalkeeper.
Manteo registered their first shot on target roughly twelve minutes into the game. Eddie Turberville came up to launch a long throw-in from the right flank into the top-corner of the six-yard box. A mass of bodies scattered in the box rose up for the ball. The ball was gently headed down and wide by a Nighthawks’ defender. Trent Hayman instantly turned and chased down the bouncing ball just now outside of the top corner of the six-yard box. While facing away from the goal and on the move, Hayman somehow contorted his body to swing around the bouncing ball and deliver a crushing strike to the near post. The Nighthawks goalie had positioned well on the near post and was able to knock the ball out for a corner.
First Flight continued to control the ball on the ground and the Manteo defense was being called upon continuously. The Nighthawks were earning more and more free-kicks in their final third and corner kicks as well. The Nighthawks always seemed to have new clever alternative to their set-pieces, but Manteo seemed well prepared to deal with the end results of each attempt.
Manteo’s best offense in the first half often came from their high press. Thirty six minutes into the first half, Kenyon led the press along the left flank to force an errand pass up the line in which winger, Grey Clark, pounced on, dispossessing the Nighthawks. Clark made a clever skill move to dribble down the sideline. Clark then played a beautiful cross into the middle of the 18-yard box in an effort to find Aiden Braswell making his run in. The cross outran both Braswell and the defender initially, but Braswell adjusted quickly to track it back down and play the ball off the bounce. Braswell struck it on the half-volley as the goalkeeper came rushing out with hands extended. With the pressure from the defender and the keeper, Braswell was unable to keep the ball down and it sailed just over the crossbar.
The end of the first half was near and the Nighthawks were eager to separate themselves on the scoreboard. The final minutes of the first half were difficult for the Manteo defense. A midfield throw-in for the Nighthawks along their left flank allowed the showing player to receive the ball and then find their central midfielder showing into space. The midfielder drove the ball forward before laying off a well-weighted pass that split the Manteo backline wide open and found the feet of their striker in behind the line. The pass led the attacker wide and to the end-line, but he was able to stand it up and wait for runners into the box. As the Manteo defense looked to organize, he played a cutback ball to the top of the six-yard box to find the midfield player that started the attack. He struck it first time, keeping it on the ground. It was struck with enough pace but placed close enough to Weaver for him to get his body to the ground quickly and wrap the ball up on his goal-line.
With less than a minute on the clock to end the first half, the same midfielder that earned the previous strike got on the ball atop the 18-yard box. He danced his way across the box lateraly, keeping the Manteo defenders at bay before firing off a shot that rocked the crossbar. The whistle blew shortly after and Manteo entered halftime with the score at nil-nil.
After forty minutes of play, Manteo would seemingly be thankful for the score-line where First Flight may have begun to feel a bit frustrated. The Redskins would need to organize in the back and step up their attacking play going forward to stay in the game.
As the second half got under way, the overall play intensified. Both teams knew it would be a long forty minutes and a single goal could be the determining factor. The player’s efforts were fueled on by thunderous chants from the fans.
The Nighthawks continued to see the better of possession but the Redskins were much more organized at the back in regards to the positioning of the two central defensive midfielders.
In the opening five minutes of play, a Nighthawks winger turned the corner to get in behind the line and into the 18-yard box. As he attacked the near post, he fired off a low shot. Weaver was there for the kick-save and the Nighthawks were once again denied.
Ten minutes into the second half, First Flight earned another corner kick. The ball was directly driven to the back-post. Manteo’s defender that protects the backpost stepped up to meet the ball in the air with his head. To the fortune of the Nighthawks, he accidently headed the ball in the wrong direction and into his own goal. Weaver made a diving effort, but the ball was just out of reach. An own goal gave First Flight a 1-0 lead with thirty minutes remaining.
The fans in blue and white erupted with joyous applause. Those in black in gold looked to pick up the heads of the Redskins with cheers of their own. The Redskins would regroup, knowing their was still an eternity left on the clock.
Just a few minutes later Manteo was pushing bodies forward in an effort to equalize and earned a throw-in along their left sideline. Clark threw the ball in, opting for Kenyon atop the box. The ball skipped past Kenyon, his defender and the next defender, making its way all the way across the box. Hayman turned back to the ball, stepped over the ball to let it run past him while fooling his pressing defender. He again fired off a quick shot as he twisted his hips around quickly to find the target. The shot was driven well, especially since he slipped on his follow through, but the keeper was able to swallow it up.
The majority of Manteo’s shooting opportunities were coming from set pieces or long throw-ins. With twenty minutes on the clock, Manteo’s Kenyon took a corner-kick on the right side. He curled a ball into a crowded box as bodies pushed and positioned. Hayman rose up the highest to get the slightest of touches on the ball as it skipped just over his head and continued on to the back post. Damian Rivera was awaiting the ball and struck it on the half-volley as a Nighthawk defender also swung wildly at the ball. Rivera got the shot off and laced it on the outside of the side-netting.
The Nighthawks continued to press forward, often pushing their fullbacks high up the pitch to support the attack or offer an overlapping run, as they looked to put the game to bed with another goal. The Manteo defense seemed to grow stronger and more physical as the game wore on and with Weaver and Turberville giving commands in the back, they were difficult to break down.
Six minutes remained on the game clock and Manteo was still trailing by one goal. A possession began down their left flank when Irving Calderon-Chavarria intercepted a through ball along the midline. He quickly found Damian Rivera in the midfield. Rivera shielded the ball from his pressing defender before pushing it backwards, and away into space. Rivera then played a hard diagonal pass on the ground to Hayman. Hayman fronted his defender as he showed to the ball. Hayman then let the ball run through his legs and also the legs of his defender as she quickly spun around him to receive the ball on the backside of his defender with daylight ahead towards goal. He took one dribble to the top corner of the 18-yard box and then drove the ball to the near post. The Nighthawks keeper dove to get two strong hands on the shot at the near post but he was unable to parry the ball wide. The ball rebounded back in front of the goal. A mad scramble ensued for the bouncing ball. Kenyon and Braswell muscled for the ball against their defenders as the keeper scurried back across the goal line to reposition himself. The ball bounced past all the players in the six-yard box and fell kindly to Justin Ortega. Ortega had been making a deep run from outside the box and timed the bouncing ball perfectly. As it seemingly happened in slow motion, he just needed to keep the ball down and on target. He did just that. Ortega smashed it home on the half-volley, past the last defender and goalie. The Manteo bench and the away fans erupted at the site of the equalizing goal.
In the final five minutes of play, both sides were hungry for the win but unable to create any truly threatening attacks. The first ever conference fixture between the two rivals was destined for over-time.
The current rules of play state that conference games that are equal at the end of regulation will play out two ten minute overtime periods. The full twenty minutes must be played, regardless of any goals scored, and there is no penalty shootout if the score remains equal after 100 minutes of play.
The overtime periods were an arduous affair. The teams had already expelled exponential amounts of energy in their efforts to win the game in regulation, and signs of fatigue began to show. Players began to pull up with cramps, or keel over, gasping for air. Despite this, the game intensified even more so. There was certainly no love loss on tackles or challenges for 50/50 balls, Everyone knew the importance of every ball, every pass, and every shot.
The first overtime period was scoreless and the opposing teams quickly switched sides to began the second overtime period.
In the final ten minute overtime period, passion and fatigue were oozing from every pore of the players on the pitch. The tension was palpable and school pride from both sets of fans was on full display. Up top for Manteo, Kenyon and Hayman were 100% dialed in and determined to make a play for their team. The two were really starting to work well together to get something going forward.
One minute and twenty six seconds remained on the clock when Turberville launched a goal-kick to the central circle along the midline. Kenyon brought the ball down exquisitely with his first touch. He quickly took one touch to face up while drawing the attention of four Nighthawks around him. Hayman began his deep midfield run and Kenyon played a well-weight ball through the backline. Hayman used his paced to win the ball and was in on goal with a pressing defender at his heels. As he approached the top corner of the 18-yard box, he thought about the outside shot, but he took one more dribble inside the box. He cut the ball back as the chasing defender slide past him. He beat the second defender with an inside cut to set the ball on his favored right foot. He quickly fired off a shot bound for the back-post bottom corner, only to have it deflected out of bounds by a diving defender that threw his entire body into the pathway of the shot. It was likely a game saving sliding block by the Nighthawk defender.
The final whistle blew and multiple players on both sides instantly dropped to the ground in fatigue. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “I’m incredibly proud of our boys for this display tonight. We found out what we were made of. We found our heart. I’m excited to have this type of game early in the season as it raises the bar of the effort we are capable of. I felt we were a bit lucky to get to halftime at nil-nil, as our defensive positioning with our midline was poor at best. We did a much better job of organizing our defensive blocks in the second half and took what we could going forward. What an exciting goal by Ortega! I’m also proud of our overall composure in such a tense game and thrilled to see such community support for both programs.”
Justin Ortega: 1 goal
|Pass Success Rate||58%||72%|