Redskins Keep The Hurricanes At Bay

Friday night lights shown down bright upon the Hatteras Hurricane’s soccer field on the 7th day of September. Hatteras is always looking to reignite the spark of the original Dare County derby and they were fired up to take on your Manteo Redskins, who are currently ranked number three in the state for 1A classification.

Upon kickoff, both teams showed they were focused and ready to play as the initial pace of the game was fast and the play was physical on both sides. Manteo controlled the run of possession early, keeping the ball on the ground and forming effective 10-12 yard triangles throughout the midfield to pass the ball about. Hatteras opted to play direct upon their time on the ball. The Manteo back-line quickly sniffed out their game plan and began to anticipate the long balls.

Manteo obtained several early chances at goal but were unable to capitalize and take the lead. As the minutes ticked by with a nil-nil scoreline, Hatteras grew more confident. Manteo captain and midfielder, Erik Hernandez, who had been out for two games due to injury, was eager to reassert himself on the field and diminish the Hurricanes growing confidence.

Manteo’s first goal began with Landon Taylor attempting to send a through ball past the back-line to Zafra on the run. It was a well weighted ball but it was was deflected out wide by the Hurricane center-back. Noah Goetsch was able to collect the ball along the left wing, drawing a defender outside of the 18-yard box.  Hernandez drew into the space along the top left corner of the box and called for the drop. Goetsch obliged the request. Hernandez found plenty of space on the ball, took one touch to set up his strike and then sent a looping, bending ball perfectly into the far post upper ninety. Either the goalie felt he had no chance to save it, or he felt it was sailing over because his only reaction was to turn and watch it sail into the back of the net. The strike was pure class.

Manteo continued to pepper the Hurricane keeper and pump balls into the box but their second goal would come from the spot. It began with center-back, Bryson Casey, making a run out of the back, dribbling past a few mid-fielders before playing a ball wide to Hernandez on the run. Hernandez then played it right back into the center of the box for Zafra. Zafra took two touches on the ball towards goal looking for room to get his shot off as he was pressed hard from the side. Just as Zafra shot, he was taken down in the box by the defender. His shot was just wide but the penalty was awarded. Landon Taylor opted to take the penalty kick and placed it low and hard. The assistant referee deemed their was encroachment and Taylor would have to take the penalty again. He had no trouble making the second one count as well to make it 2-0.

Minutes later, Manteo was awarded a corner kick. Hernandez took the kick and found Taylor on a near post run. Taylor attacked the ball and bodied it into the back of the net. The half would end with Manteo leading by a score of 3-0. Manteo had also secured 62% of the possession during the first half.

Hatteras continued to play hard and physical in the second half and Manteo continued to pass the ball well, creating numerous chances. Early on, Hernandez had a 40 yard shot on target off a free-kick and Yeifer Perez later hit a smashing strike bound for the back of the net only to be unknowingly blocked by a defender on the goal-line. That deflection lead to another corner kick of which Taylor would cap off his hat-trick. The ball was knocked down in the box after the ball was sent in and Taylor tapped in to make the scoreline 4-0.

Manteo subbed often throughout the game and shifted their midfielders through different positions to force the opposing defenders to remain unfamiliar with specific players.

Manteo right-back, Yeifer Perez, would cap off the score line off a deep free-kick, placed about 35 yards out. Perez played a high, lofty ball on target. The keeper was slightly off his line, and elevated to save it, but the ball squeezed just between the crossbar and the keepers fingers.

The game would end with a 5-nil Manteo victory. Manteo had 65% of the game’s possession, 12 corner kicks, 31 shots and 13 shots on target.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “I was really pleased with our performance tonight. It was the first game this season we had our entire roster available to play and we played as a team. We moved the ball extremely well. Hatteras played hard the entire game and did not make things easy for us. It was great to see us back playing Manteo soccer after we seemed to take the night off in the previous game against Gates.”

Manteo now has a 5-1 record.


Manteo Opens Conference Play With A Win

On Wednesday, September 5th, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Gates County to take on the Red Barrons. The game would commence the beginning of Albermarle Athletic Conference play. The Redskins were coming off the long Labor Day weekend, having four days off and then one practice before the game. With the long layover and the intense heat broaching near 100 degrees, the play from Manteo was nowhere near their top quality, especially in the first half.

Upon the kickoff, Manteo controlled the ball early and often, yet they struggled to link together a multitude of passes. Manteo could not find their first touch, and the Red Barrons were fired up and making hard physical challenges every chance they got. Manteo seemed surprised by Gates County’s high energy and physical play and it was effective for the Red Barrons for the first half.

Manteo dominated the midfield play but failed to find the creativity and touch to break down the final defensive third for an early opening goal. The twenty-minute water break came in the first half and the score was still tied at nil to nil.

During the break, Manteo was able to collectively organize their thoughts on their play and refocus.

With fifteen minutes remaining in the first half, Manteo would finally get on the scoreboard after dominating the run of play. Upon winning the ball in the midfield, Noach Goetsch would play a through ball down the left side of the pitch for the striker, Joe Zafra. The outside back would win the ball originally and tried to clear it out. Zafra pressed hard on the ball and the clearance was blocked by Zafra, falling nicely for him. Zafra took a touch on the ball past the defender towards goal. The defender slid hard from behind but Zafra was able to elude the tackle as he approached the near post at a 25-degree angle. The keeper held to his line, and Zafra blasted it past him from four yards out.

Manteo entered halftime with the scoreline at 1 to nil. The Redskins found the shade and discussed the sick feeling in their gut after playing a poor half.

The focus was certainly heightened to start the second half as it took less than one minute to score their second goal. After Manteo was awarded a throw-in right after the kick-off, Ryan McOwen launched a long throw-in out of the midfield to Landon Taylor down the sideline. Taylor shielded the defender, picked his head up and cross the ball into the box to Zafra. Zafra had positioned himself well to find plenty of space atop the six-yard box and he one-touched the cross into the back of the net before the keeper could react. Zafra, normally one to celebrate his goals, calmly turned and walked back to his half. The lack of celebration was telling as to how Manteo felt about their opponent, their poor play, and their station in the game.

The second goal right out of the gate was deflating for the Red Barrons, but they continued to play hard and physical. The home side’s one shot on target came off a free-kick just outside the right corner of the box. Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., had no problem scooping it up. Manteo started to threaten on set pieces as well as Gates tallied up the fouls and corners given up. Yeifer Perez almost gave Manteo their third goal as he made a late run up on a corner kick from Calvio. Calvio played him on his near post run and Perez made good contact with his head, but got under it too much and sent it over the crossbar.

Manteo would make good on the next corner kick as Calvio would find Andrew Hayman attacking the ball on the far post. As the ball sailed in, Hayman slid in front of his defender and headed the ball down onto the goal-line and into the back of the net.

Manteo continued to possess the ball while Gates opted to play direct on most any opportunity given on the ball. The Redskins kept the opposing keeper busy with shots from Taylor, Hernandez-Ramirez, Pendleton, Perez, Hayman, and Calvio. Zafra would cement his first hat-trick of the season with fifteen minutes left to play in the game. The scoring play was started off as Sam Diaz made an overlapping run along the right side to play a ball across the box. No one was home on the first ball and it skipped through to the far side. Goetsch tracked it down and dropped it back to Calvio. Calvio was pressed from behind and had one defender in front. He drew wide left with the ball, beating the defender with pace, then turned the corner to play a pass back across the box. Zafra was well positioned again. Zafra took a collecting touch on the ball and then placed it in the side netting with the outside of his right foot as the keeper shifted along the goal line.

Manteo was up by a score of 4-0 and still rolling with substitutes all over the field. The Redskins were happy to have center-back, Jose Velasco, back on the field for a bit as it was his first tour of duty this season as he has been recovering from a knee injury.

Gates County was able to forego the shutout with two minutes remaining on the clock as Manteo played out a goal-kick that was not controlled. The Barrons quickly found one of their big targets up front as Manteo tried to reposition quickly. The attacker drew the ball into the penalty box and was taken down by Pendleton. The referee immediately pointed to the spot as he should of. The attacker took the penalty kick for Gates, and placed it just past the outstretched hand of the keeper, Steven Ortega. The Redskins gave up the shutout but went home with the win by the score of 4-1.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “It was not the prettiest game we have ever played, but a win is a win and we will take it. I tried to warn our boys about looking past opponents and how every team will be fired up to try and beat the defending champs, but they did not initially buy it. I think the message is now received and they are refocused on all of our goals. I look forward to finishing this long away game stretch in Hatteras Friday night and finally coming home to play in Manteo on Monday against the Bruins. We will give our fans a lot to cheer out!”

Impressive Scoreline On The Road For Manteo

Amidst a slew of away games, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Elizabeth City to take on the Northeastern Eagles on the 29th day of August. Getting the win on the road on Northeastern’s field is always a much more difficult task than playing them at home. The field’s grass is thick and high causing the ball to move slower and seemingly the players as well. Manteo was focused on a getting off to a quick start and to assert an early dominance on the ball.

Right from the start, Manteo applied high pressure, forcing the Eagles into their own half. The ball would remain there for the large majority of the game. The high press would prove effective just a couple minutes into the game as the Eagles’ keeper took a goal-kick, playing the ball up the middle to his center-back. The defender took a poor touch on the ball, and Joe Zafra was right there to take the ball away and into the top of the box. The keeper was still out of position and Zafra was able to simply place the ball into the left side netting.

Manteo dominated the ball, really working the right side of the pitch early on as Hernandez, Perez, and McOwen formed effective triangles, utilized numerous overlaps and 1-2s to work the ball down the right wing. When Northeastern did shift and take the right side of the pitch away, Manteo calmly played it back and switched the field along the backline. For the Northeastern goalkeeper, it must have seemed like a barrage of balls being playing into the box.

Manteo’s second strike on the goal came from Hernandez as he drove into the box, cut back and fancied a strike with the left foot. It was struck and placed well towards the far post, yet the keeper made a terrific diving save, knocking the ball just wide of a crashing Zafra. Hernandez tweaked his groin on the play and would not play the remainder of the game. Carter Calvio was more than happy to slide over in the midfield, filling the center midfield position.

Minutes later, striker Andrew Hayman would test the keeper again with a blast from the right side of the box. The keeper again knocked it down, but Noah Goetsch was on the far side of the play and read the rebound all the way. Goetsch made his run in from outside the box and drilled the ball into the back of the net as the ball popped out to the six-yard line.

Defensive midfielder, Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez, would later add to the scoreline in the first half as Manteo was working the ball around inside the 18-yard box. Taylor out-muscled a defender along the end-line, playing a ball back to Gonzalez-Martinez atop the six-yard box. On his first attempt on goal, the ball was deflected, but Gonzalez-Martinez persisted and followed up his own shot to place it in the back of the net.

Andrew Hayman caped off a dominant first half as he headed home a ball sent in by Landon  Taylor off of a corner kick.  Hayman timed his run perfectly, went up to get it, and headed it down to cement his second goal of the season.

Halftime was a welcomed hydration break as the heat index was in the 100’s. Manteo was reminded to never take their foot off the gas and to always play their hardest if they are on the field.

It was not long into the second half when Carter Calvio got his first goal of the season. It came off a long throw-in from McOwen that lead Calvio into the 18-yard box. Calvio controlled the ball amongst the bodies in the box, cut inside, and fired one at goal with his left foot. It was well placed and gave the keeper no chance to make a save. The goal placed Manteo up by a score of 5-0.

Manteo began to make a lot of substitutions at that point but they continued to dominate the ball and racked up a plethora of opportunities on goal. Adam Reed, Bradys Zavala, Owen Clark, Irving Chavarria, William Pendleton, and Bryson Casey would all have attempts on goal that fell just short of the back of the net. Zafra made the scoreline 6-0 when he gathered the ball along the left wing, dribbled wide around the outside back, turned the corner and attacked the near post. The keeper felt as if Zafra was going to play the ball across the box but Zafra only had eyes for goal. He placed the ball between the near post and keeper to rack up his second goal of the game.

Defender, Sam Diaz, got in on the scoring action through a beautiful combination play through the midfield with Calvio. Diaz collected the ball in the middle, danced around his defender before playing Calvio as he showed for the ball. Diaz kept his run and called for the through ball. Calvio played a well-weighted pass through the backline and Diaz one-touched it into the corner of the goal.

The game would end 7-0 in favor of the Redskins. The Eagles only attempt on goal came late in the game as a through-ball made its way past the Redskin backline and Casey was unable to body the attacker off the ball. The striker got a good shot off but the keeper, Steven Ortega, made a great diving save to keep the clean sheet for Manteo.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” I am certainly happy with the result on the road as that field is a difficult one to play on. We passed the ball extremely well and played team soccer. Our tempo was certainly not as high as I would like but I suppose we can chalk it up to the heat, the high grass, and coming off a hard-fought game with First Flight. I feel that we are ready for conference games to start next week.”

Dare County Derby Worth The Price Of Admission

Monday, August the 27th brought the first day of school along with the derby between Manteo and First Flight men’s soccer programs. The previous encounter, the week prior, got underway only to be interrupted and postponed due to a severe thunderstorm. Manteo came into the game with confidence in their ability to play with their perennial powerhouse rival as they had previously defeated two solid teams in Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School and Currituck. First Flight, on the other hand, was in unfamiliar territory prior to kick off as they were anxious to get above 500. They lost their first complete match of the season to a highly talented Cape Henry squad and then defeated a solid Norfolk Collegiate team.  The stage was set for an exciting encounter and when it was all said and done, the game certainly had its moments of elation.

The game kicked off with First Flight controlling possession early and often as Manteo looked to find an early balance between parking the bus and providing pressure along the Nighthawk backline. First Flight continued in their 3-5-2 formation as Manteo switched into a 4-4-2 to combat the Nighthawks ability to switch the point of attack while also forcing their wingbacks to hold true on the additional forward occupying the width.

The first eight minutes of the half, things were going according to plan for  Manteo as they continued to bend but not break, allowing no lethal scoring opportunities for the Nighthawks while finding some possession going forward. The game changed before the first half ten-minute mark as a low diagonal ball was played through Manteo’s backline to the top right corner of the 18-yard box. Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., read the ball and came off his line to collect it. Jones Jr. slid feet first as he scooped up the ball before the attacker could get there. Suddenly, the ball dropped right out of his hands as he was popping up. It fell right to the Nighthawk attacker and he accepted the gift by one touching it into the back of an empty net. An early mistake left Manteo down 1-0.

Manteo did not point fingers or hand their heads. Instead, they got back in their formation and kept at it, finding longer and more consistent runs of possession through more combination play through the midfield.

The Nighthawks found the back of the net again ten minutes later off a set piece outside of the corner of the 18-yard box. The Manteo backline deemed the spot to be in a shooting location and placed four players in the wall. First Flight overloaded the backside of the box and sent a well-placed ball bending towards the back post. Two Manteo defenders found themselves marking three runners, and a Nighthawk attacker was able to get his head on the ball, flicking it into the side-netting.

The Nighthawks would not let up and the first half would not end before Manteo gave up the third goal to the home side. A Nighthawk midfielder squeezed a beautiful through ball between two Redskin defenders. The striker was able to take one touch to goal, look up picking his spot as the keeper held the line, and bury it in the far post side netting. Down 3-0 with ten minutes to play in the first half, things were not looking good for Manteo. The Redskins did finish the half out strong with a few attacking opportunities and a handful of nice saves from Jones Jr.

At halftime, Manteo discussed their tactics, making minor adjustments. The major adjustments were centered around their mental make-up. Manteo felt they gave First Flight two of their three goals. They were told to mentally convince themselves the game was actually a 1-0 scoreline and that they needed just one goal in the first ten minutes of the second half to get back in the game. A players mental makeup can often be the difference between winning or losing, persevering or quitting. Manteo proved what they were made of in the second half.

As the second half got underway, Manteo looked to gain more possession by winning more 50/50 balls in the midfield and playing more simply with short passes on the ground. The Redskins got their swagger back just five minutes in. It began with the Manteo backline winning the ball in the back, playing it out wide for outside midfielder,  Ryan McOwen. McOwen used his size and speed to bully his way down the field but was dispossessed after a  solid forty yard run. The Nighthawk defender poked it away to the middle of the midfield. The ball was then won by Manteo midfielder, Landon Taylor. Taylor quickly found Eric Hernandez nearby as he was pressed quickly. Upon his pass to Hernandez, Taylor spun off his defender towards the goal to open back up. Hernandez played him back as a home-side defender came hard for the ball as well. Taylor bodied the defender while making a quick turn towards goal, finding two other defenders closing quick just outside the 18-yard box. Taylor took one touch to goal. He fancied a strike on goal. It was a well-struck with the laces and rocketed past a stunned goalie and into the back of the net. The goal was pure class and just what Manteo needed to climb back into the game.

The run of play began to intensify. The pace of play was heightened and the physicality increased as First Flight seemed uncomfortable on the pitch for the first time. A professional foul by the Nighthawk right-back gave Manteo a free-kick outside of the right corner of the box. Noah Goetsch stood over the ball, eyeing his options. Goetsch played a beautiful ball to the top of the box to the striker, Joe Zafra. Zafra used his head to flick the ball up and back towards the goal. Hernandez had positioned himself on the backside and was making a well-timed, late run to the far post. The flick-on by Zafra fell right into the path of Hernandez as he headed it into the far-post side netting. An ecstatic Manteo side celebrated and First Flight seemed in disbelief that the score was now 3-2.

The Nighthawks picked up their pressure on the ball and their intensity going forward. On both sides, every ball was pressed hard and every dribble possession was met with a hard shoulder challenge. The passion of both teams was spilling out from the players, coaches, and fans. Everyone knew there would inevitably be at least one more goal within the game, and the team that scored it would be in control.

First Flight answered back ten minutes after Manteo’s run of consecutive goals with a beautiful finish by a Nighthawk striker in the side netting that was set up by another well-weighted through ball. It was certainly a moment that deflated the Manteo momentum and seemed to calm the First Flight side. The intensity of the game would not relinquish until the final seconds. However,  Manteo had finally realized that the Nighthawks were not an impenetrable force.

While the Redskins did not hold the majority of possession, they certainly held more of the ball in the second half than in the previous half. The Manteo midfield of Goetsch, Taylor, Hernandez, and Calvio began to understand their roles better in the new formation and provided better combination play through the midfield and into the final third. The build-up was better but the finality of it all was always missing something in the end, whether it be a final touch, the shot, or an offside.

The game ended in a 4-2 win for First Flight. The Manteo side had numerous positives to take away from the game and a handful of mistakes to learn from. Both sides played with a lot of heart and both look to do well this season and in their respective playoffs.

Captain Erik  Hernandez said “It was a well-fought game and our boys played hard. Our confidence grew after scoring those two goals on them.”

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “I am really proud of our boys for never giving up after starting off down 3-0. They showed a lot of heart to fight back and make it a game. It was unfortunate to give them two easy goals in the first half but overall, I think we showed everyone we can hang with them. The game was a great tactical test for us as we had to change the way we play a good bit in order to slow down their lethal attack. I think we should have a lot of confidence going forward with any other team we face this year.”

Redskins Ride Past The Knights

On the 22nd day of August, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Barco to take on the Currituck Knights. The varsity game was preceded by the JV game in which the the home-side won by a score of 3-1. The varsity team tried to find relief from the intense heat and humidity in the shade while they cheered on their younger counterparts. Currituck has proven to be a formidable foe over the last decade as Coach Davis does a great job of training and organizing her squad each year. During last year’s contest with Currituck, Manteo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but took their foot off the gas in the second half allowing Currituck to score a late equalizer, ending the game in a 2-2 draw. Manteo was focused and determined to never let that happen again and to play the full 80 minutes.

Playing the full 80 minutes would prove more difficult than anticipated with the extreme heat factoring in as a second opponent to overcome. As the game kicked off, Manteo took early control of possession and was much more patient on the ball than the opposing side. Currituck looked to play direct when given their time on the ball. Manteo’s back-line snuffed out the early attempts at long balls with no problem but did give up a free-kick in the middle, 30 yards from goal. The player on the ball went to goal with his strike but Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., scooped it up with ease.

Manteo’s first attempt at goal was much more threatening, especially in the build up. Eric Hernandez found himself upon the left midfield with the ball on a counter attacking opportunity. He drew the right-back defender wide, stepped over with a faint outside before cutting inside while splitting the defender in front and the man on his back. He set his right foot up nicely, but in the end he did not get the contact on the ball he desired. It was an easy save for the keeper but the Redskins appeared to find an early weakness on the outside of Currituck’s formation.

Manteo kept constant pressure on the Knight’s back-line as their next attempt on goal came from Noah Goetsch winning the ball in the air from a goal kick. Goetsch flicked it on for Joe Zafra up top. The ball fell to the feet of their center-back, but Zafra pressed hard, forced a turnover, and he was off with eyes only for goal. Zafra found the time and space in the box to get his shot off on the brake away but the keeper made a nice kick save as he came out to close down the ball.

Manteo had appeared to take an early lead off a corner kick by Hernandez that sent Calvio crashing in for the header into the back of the net. However, the official called the goal back and awarded Calvio a yellow card as he claimed he purposely used his hand to put the ball in the net. The tape says otherwise and Manteo would play on.

The Manteo midfield began to control the run of play as Hernandez, Calvio, Taylor and Goetsch provided simple and effective combination play to work the ball into the offensive third.

Hernandez was really starting to find his confidence on the ball as he continued to take on defenders, slicing and dicing his way into the box. After the fourth time of doing so, it seemed inevitable that one of his deep runs would result in a goal. The fifth run started with a great ball played down the line by William Pendleton. Hernandez ran onto it down the left midfield, drawing a hard pressing defender. Confident and patient on the ball, Hernandez controlled it into the box, attacking the near post. He cut inside and then back outside, forcing the defender to spin around and loose the ball. Dragging the ball towards the end-line, he found his mark as striker, Andrew Hayman, made a late run into the center of the six yard box. The ball was played across, low, with a slight touch from the defenders foot. The ball popped up on Hayman, but he calmly tapped it in for Manteo’s first goal.

In the remaining time of the first half, Manteo held strong to there 1-0 lead with stout, physical defending from outside backs, William Pendleton and Yeifer Perez.

Halftime was a welcome break as several players on both sides were suffering under the extreme heat conditions. Manteo was reminded of last years game, and to not relinquish their effort or the lead.

While the Manteo side played well in the first half, it was not their greatest showing as a few players were a bit sluggish in the heat. The second half provided a slight cooling relief, and the Redskins looked much better. To start the half, Manteo switched up their personnel in the midfield to utilize the width of the pitch, and to expose the weaker outside backs of the Knight’s back-line. The first ten minutes of the second half, Manteo dominated the run of play, working the left side of the pitch relentlessly, wearing down the defenders.

Combination play amid Hernandez, Calvio, and Taylor was vexing the home-side as the trio formed tight triangles all over the midfield to pass around the defenders. Manteo’s second goal appeared to be developing as Calvio won the ball in the center midfield, dribbled diagonally before stopping on a dime to lay the ball off for a streaking Hernandez. Manteo’s number 10 used his momentum from the run to break cleanly through the back-line. His third touch on the ball drew wide, yet he placed a forceful strike on the ball. The keeper had positioned himself well and punched it down out of harms way.

The Redskins second goal was a beautiful run of possession as it began with the keeper, Jones Jr., rolling the ball out for Perez. Ryan McOwen drew wide to the sideline, dragging a defender with him, opening up space in the middle for a show from Hernandez. Perez played Hernandez up the gut as McOwen then timed his run down the line. Hernandez played a nice diagonal ball out in front of McOwen. Running on to it, McOwen hit it first time as the ball entered the right edge of the 18 yard box. The ball was drilled right past the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the far, top corner. McOwen will not officially state whether it was a cross or a shot, however, a goal is a goal, and it was his first official varsity soccer goal.

Manteo continued to control the overall possession and pace of the game, finding lots of space outside to attack and get in behind the line. Calvio was the utility man of the game as he played left midfield, center midfield, right midfield and center defensive midfield positions all throughout the game allowing other players to cool off on the bench.

Center-back and team captain, Bryson Casey stated after the game that ” we were slacking in our press in the first half due to the heat and some players lack of hydration. We did much better in the second half, pressing harder and controlling the game.” When asked about the forthcoming match against First Flight on Monday, Casey stated, ” If we effectively apply our tactical changes and clean up our mistakes, the game is ours to win.”

Manteo will take on First Flight on Monday the 27th, at 6 pm, at First Flight High School. JV plays at 4 pm.



Manteo Cruises Past The Crusaders In Season Opener

On the hot and humid evening of August 17th, Manteo kicked off its season against Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School. Bishop Sullivan is always a formidable opponent and has gotten the better of the Redskins the last two years. Manteo has been working hard all spring and summer to improve their game and make a run at a state title as they feel they fell just short last season. While the players focused on their skills and their fitness, the community focused on their facility. The Manteo Boosters Club provided new Euro-style box goals, the McOwen and Casey family helped provide dugouts alongside the bench sidelines that where built by Beau Barber’s shop class, and Alfie Wheeler and Jimmy Metzinger continue to keep the grounds in top condition.

Upon kick-off, Manteo struggled to find its touch at first and were not linking their passes together. Bishop Sullivan was able to control most of the possession in the first ten minutes, however, they did not earn a single attempt on goal for their effort. Manteo on the other end was able to test the Crusader keeper on multiple early attempts.

The first attempt came from a Redskin throw-in along the midfield. William Pendleton scooped up the ball quickly out of bounds to give it a long toss down the line for a streaking Noah Goetsch. Goetsch was over-thrown but pressed the defender hard, forcing a backwards pass to the Crusader’s center-back. Manteo’s striker, Joe Zafra, read the pass and won it before the defender could. Coming across the top of the box, fading to his right, Zafra took a shot on target but the keeper was able to catch it on the run as he had positioned himself well.

Manteo’s next attempt on goal came from a free kick on the left, top of the box, after Goetsch was taken down while threatening to penetrate the back-line. Eric Hernandez and Carter Calvio stood over the ball to talk it out. In the end, Hernandez would take the strike. It was struck hard and low, penetrating the crowd of defenders, but it was stopped by a diving keeper.

As the first half wore on, Manteo began to settle in and take control of possession by winning the 50/50 balls and being the more physical team. Half way through the first half, Ivey Midgett came in strong on a 50/50 challenge to win the ball for teammate, Landon Taylor, who then played a great ball down the right wing for a streaking Eric Hernandez. Hernandez muscled past the first defender as he cut inside, attacking the near post and splitting the remaining two defenders to sneak a low shot between the legs of a defender. The keeper laid out in full extension to save the shot off the line. Manteo was beginning to take all of the momentum and you could feel a goal was coming.

With twelve minutes remaining in the first half, defensive midfielder, Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez, came in hard on a physical challenge to break the ball away from the Crusader midfielder. Goetsch was able to win the ball back for Manteo, beating the first defender at the midfield line and then Manteo was off to the races. Goetsch dribbled down the right wing with a four verse two overload for Manteo. Goetsch played a low ball across to Zafra at the top of the six-yard box. Zafra took one touch on the ball, and then struck it low past the defender and the goalie for Manteo’s first goal.

Minutes later, Zafra looked for his second goal as Hernandez played a nice ball across for him into the box. Zafra got his head to the ball, and headed it down towards goal, but it went inches wide of the post. Manteo continued to pressure the Crusader back-line for the remainder of the half but would go into half time with a 1-0 lead.

Manteo did not let go of the momentum they gained in the first half, and took control of the game throughout the second half. The Redskins continued to be the more physical team and their fitness level began to provide another advantage over Bishop Sullivan.

Manteo’s second goal would come early in the second half as Hernandez received the ball out wide on the left and diced his way through multiple defenders before placing the ball past the keeper. The home-side continued to roll from there, utilizing overlaps out of the midfield and the back-line, controlling the tempo of the game, and snuffing out any attempt for Bishop Sullivan to break through the back-line.

Manteo would all but seal the deal with a third goal with ten minutes remaining in the game as Pendleton came hard along the left touchline to play a pass forward to Goetsch. Goetsch would began to dribble inside and drag multiple defenders as Hernandez overlapped along the outside. Goetsch laid the ball off back out wide for Hernandez who sized up his defender in the box, made a quick move back to the inside to provide space and the angle for a shot. The finish was a beauty as it sailed past the keeper’s outstretched arms and into the far-post top corner.

Manteo would loose their clean sheet with only one minute and thirty seconds left in the game as a deep shot from a Crusader midfielder was headed up by Manteo’s center-back, Sam Diaz. The ball popped up inside the box and fell right to the opposing striker. Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., raced off his lined to punch the ball out of the air but fell just short of reaching it in time as the striker headed it into the goal. The game ended in a 3-1 result in favor of the home-side.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “I am pleased with our opening game this year. Once we settled in and starting playing our game, we were able to control the game and have our way with them. Our half-time adjustments were applied properly by the boys and it showed in our second half dominance. We were able to make a lot of positional switches throughout the game, keeping their defenders unfamiliar with our players, and a rotation of solid subs kept our side fresh. Our back-line held strong until the very end but they played well together given the short period of time they have had to build chemistry back there. Our boys are pumped and ready to take on First Flight!”

Fourth Overtime Heartbreak For Manteo in The Fourth Round

On the cold, crisp evening of Thursday, November 11th, the Pheonix of Raleigh Charter traveled to Roanoke Island to take on the Manteo Redskins in an epic fourth-round showdown. Raleigh Charter had previously upset the number two seed, Granville Central, while the Redskins held off a strong Voyager Academy team in the third round of state playoffs. It was only three years ago the two teams faced off in the 4th round as well, of which Raleigh Charter won in heartbreaking fashion. Tales of the previous encounter circulated, engendering the Manteo side with a taste for revenge and a hunger for victory. The pre-match consensus seemed to be that it would be a battle to the very end. The game was just that, and so much more.

As the game kicked off, Raleigh Charter took early control of the ball, forcing the strong Manteo defense to go to work early and often. Despite Raleigh Charter possessing much more of the ball in the first ten minutes of the game in the midfield and their offensive third, they failed to produce any real perilous attempts on goal. The Manteo defense defended aggressively and in numbers.

While the Raleigh Charter side seemed solid all over the pitch, it was obvious in the first two minutes that #6 and #9 would be difficult to deal with. #9 was shifty on the ball and was constantly looking to create attacks for others by playing dangerous balls into the final third. #6 displayed a high technical ability on the ball, a high IQ as he always knew exactly where to play the ball before he even received it, and a lightning-quick turn on the ball that would later prove lethal against the Manteo side.

Thirteen minutes into the game, Manteo would strike first with the dynamic combination of Eric Hernandez and Randall Klotz. On a Raleigh Charter throw-in near midfield, the Phoenix #9 settled the ball and dropped it back to combo within their midfield triangle. The ball was one touched back to him under pressure, and he one-touched it inside to an unsuspecting midfielder who mishandled the trap, popping the ball up and back towards Klotz and his mark. Klotz got a touch on the ball first, playing it out to an already bursting Hernandez who seemed to anticipate it all. Hernandez took a strong touch towards goal with a defender chasing behind. Klotz made his run straight to the box as Hernandez drew the ball a bit wide due to the closing defender. Approaching the 18-yard box, Hernandez picked his head up, eyed Klotz’s run and played a ground pass out in front of Klotz right onto the penalty marker. Klotz took one touch on the run, slicing the ball on the ground to the far post side netting for Manteo’s first goal of the game. The home crowd erupted, students stomped, screamed and waved the Manteo flag with pride.

An early lead is always a great thing and Manteo has done just that on their 18 game win streak, but the Raleigh Charter side would prove to be quite the resilient bunch. They would answer ten minutes later with a goal of their own. Upon receiving a throw-in deep in their offensive third, a Pheonix attacker held the ball out of bounds looking for someone to throw it to. The Raleigh Charter side stagnated, and the thrower held the ball for what seemed an eternity, so much so the referee seemingly approached to coax him to throw it. The Manteo side fell dormant as well just as he threw the ball into the edge of the six-yard box, just off the end line. #6 of Raleigh Charter shielded the Manteo defender and applied his lightning quick turn on the ball to face the goal. The quick spin left him face to face with the keeper just yards from the goal line and he slid the ball under the keeper’s legs.

The equalizer seemingly caused both sides to stare each other down before the kickoff, saying “Game on”. The game began to open up and both sides were racking up solid attacks that were just missing on the finality of it all. Manteo received a couple successive corner kicks off building attacks. While the first proved dangerous as the ball fell inside the box amidst a sea of bodies, the Phoenix defense was able to clear the danger. On the following corner kick, Hernandez decided to take care of things himself. Hernandez lined up to take the corner on the left side. He struck it with his right foot, sending it up, bending it back in towards goal. The Phoenix goalie and the defenders all miscalculated the bend on the ball, and it sailed past them all and into the far post, upper ninety for Manteo’s second goal. Both sides were shocked in the first instant, however, Manteo’s shock resided much more quickly as they surrounded Hernandez to celebrate the timely strike.

Riding the momentum of their second goal, Manteo looked to capitalize and put away the third goal in the first half. Klotz was able to turn a Phoenix defender over in the midfield and again find a streaking Hernandez through the middle. Drawing several defenders early on the counter, Hernandez played Edwin Perez with a perfect pass out wide as he found himself unmarked due to the attention Hernandez drew on the ball. Perez raced to the ball as the keeper did the same, yet it was a race Perez was destined to win. He looked to strike it one time, yet his strike on the ball was unlucky as it sailed wide past the goal as the keeper dove out in the wrong direction.

Manteo continued to defend well in numbers while still seizing their attacking opportunities. Manteo had their chances to increase their lead but Raleigh Charter would be the one to finish the half strong with a second equalizing goal. After neutralizing a solid initial attack by the Phoenix side, Manteo center back, Jose Velasco, headed the ball out of the six-yard box. Left back, William Pendleton, looked to clear the resulting header as opposed to letting it go out for a corner kick. The clearance was mishit and did not get out of the box. A Phoenix attacker, collected, turned, and struck it on the half-volley under pressure. It was a clinical strike, placing it into the far-post side netting. A demoralizing goal for the Manteo side that had seemingly taken control of the game.

Manteo would enter half-time tied at two goals apiece.

The second half was an equal battle amongst both teams while the sides alternated five to ten-minute spans of dominating the run of play. Manteo produced numerous scoring opportunities, mostly on counter attacks. Despite numerous attempts on goal for both sides, the defenses held strong and it was a scoreless second half, sending the game into overtime.

The first overtime consists of two ten minute periods that must be played out, despite the scoreline.

Manteo jumped out early in the first two minutes of the first ten minute period. Upon receiving a throw-in deep in their offensive third, Manteo’s Landon Taylor found the ball at his feet amidst three Pheonix defenders. Taylor worked to control the ball but ended up popping it up in the air upon contests from encroaching defenders. The ball popped up and fell inside the 18-yard box to the one player Manteo would request it to fall too if they could. Hernandez eyed the ball out of the air and struck it first time on the volley. It was certainly not a net-ripping cracker of a volley, but it was timely, accurate and found its way into the far post side netting. Manteo found themselves up for the third time this game. The Manteo fans again erupted in jubilation. The student section had been standing the entire game, cheering and chanting, waiting to storm the field to celebrate. They would need to wait a bit longer, and unfortunately wait until next year.

Manteo held strong the first ten minute overtime period and lead 3-2.

In the middle of the second ten minute overtime period, Manteo was inches away from putting the game away with another goal. A poor clearing header by a Phoenix defender sent the ball back to the middle offensive third for Manteo and right to the feet of Perez. Perez played Hernandez on the centric run but the center back met the ball just as Hernadez got to it. The ball popped up and back to the head of Klotz. Klotz headed the ball on towards goal as the keeper rushed out and plowed into Klotz. It was a high, looping header, yet it was dropping right into the goal. However, two Phoenix defenders crashed the goal and flew through the air, both swinging a foot up at the ball to clear it out. The ball was no more than three inches from crossing the entire goal line, as one of the defenders got just enough on the ball to clear it back a bit before crashing into the back of the net. For a second, all was not lost for Manteo as the ball sailed right over to both Hernandez and Perez. It seemed just a simple touch from three yards out into the empty net would cement the victory, yet the ball had a vicious spin on it. It hit the ground, spinning past Hernandez, and Perez came crashing in on it. Perez lept towards the ball, getting part of his midsection on the ball, sending it towards goal, but the iron was unkind. The ball bounced out off the upright, allowing a defender to clear it. A collective groan resounded throughout the home fans. The game was still far from over.

With just two minutes left in the second ten minute overtime, Raleigh Charter received a throw-in deep in their offensive third. They sent a long throw into the crowded box. A Phoenix attacker elevated above the rest and flicked the ball back towards goal. It was seemingly a flick-on for another attacker to connect with, yet it somehow found its way all the way across the Manteo goal, and into the back of the net. It was a devastating third equalizer.

After ending the second ten minute overtime period tied at 3-3, the game would enter into the ‘golden goal’ five minute overtime. If a team scores in one of the two five minute ‘golden goal’ overtime periods, it is an instant game-winning goal.

The first five minutes were feverous, ripe with attempts on goal and defensive stands, none more impressive than the stand Manteo made in the final minute of the first five minute period.  With the clock winding down, Raleigh Charter’s #6 found himself with the ball in space atop the corner of the 18-yard box. He struck it well towards the far post. Keeper Trent Jones Jr. exploded off the ground in an effort to get a touch on the shot as it sailed just over his extended arm, and hit the post near the upper-ninety. The ball bounced out and was cleared by Manteo, but it was shortly thereafter pumped back in down the left wing. A looping cross was sent to the far post, collected by the Phoenix and dropped back to #9, who took a shot on goal. Jones Jr. made a diving save as defender, Sam Diaz also dove in to deflect the ball out. Another Phoenix attacker turned on the bouncing ball amidst the box and struck it on goal towards the far post side netting. Again, Jones Jr. made an extended diving save, getting a strong hand on the ball while flipping in the air. The ball bounced back out only a few yards as Jones Jr. was back on his feet in a split second. The ball was again shot from point-blank distance, and Jones Jr. again made a third diving save alongside defender William Pendleton who stood along the goal line in an effort to help defend the goal. The ball was finally cleared out and the clock hit zero seconds to end the first five minute overtime period.

The game would enter the final five minute overtime period, tied at three goals apiece. If no goal was to be scored the game would enter penalty kicks.

With two minutes remaining in the game, Raleigh Charter’s #9 found himself some space between the Manteo center back, and right back. He received the ball near the edge of the 18-yard box, spun and fired a beautiful shot into the far post side netting. The goal ended the game in a prolific fashion much to the heartbroken dismay of the home side.

The Manteo players feel to the ground in shock. You could see their tears pouring down, and their hearts bleeding-out. They gave every ounce of energy they had and left it all on the field.

The dejected Manteo team shook hands and gathered in the corner one last time. The entire student body and supporting community fans gathered around as well to show their unyielding support. Everyone was silent as Coach Cleaver addressed his team, professing his admiration for the effort and passion displayed throughout the match.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” It is absolutely devastating to end our season in that manner. It hurts so much because we know how close we were to accomplish our goal of a state championship and we know we can play with any 1A team in the state on any given night.  Our boys played their hearts out and I could not have asked for one more thing of them as they gave it all. I speak for our players and fans as well when I say that we have nothing but respect for Coach Grosso, and the Raleigh Charter side, as they too, showed admirable resiliency and heart, to pull out that come back. While we did not accomplish our top goal this year, we did accomplish many great things as we went undefeated in conference play and reeled off 18 straight victories. I am beyond pleased with our overall season, effort and growth this season.  These young men were a pleasure to coach and they will forever be apart of the Manteo Soccer family.”

Manteo Defeats Voyager Academy In a Third-Round Showdown

On Wednesday, November 8th, the Manteo Redskins hosted the Voyager Academy Vikings in a third-round state playoff game on a wet and windy evening. The Vikings had breezed through the first two rounds with 6-0 margins of victory, and the Redskins held off Woods Charter to win by a score of 1-0 in the second round. On paper, it looked to be a difficult game for the Redskins, and it would prove to be just that. However, Manteo has been playing inspired soccer as of late, fearing no opponent, and their physical, passionate play would again play a pivotal role in the game’s outcome.

Upon kickoff, the rain had let up, but the pitch remained slick from the constant on and off rains throughout the day. Manteo was fired up from the start, again, beginning the game at a feverous pace. Manteo would look to strike first and early as Eric Hernandez would receive the ball in the midfield along the right side, and dribbled at pace diagonally into the center of the pitch, beating one defender, and then drawing the attention of five Vikings defenders upon reaching the top of the box. As Hernandez entered the space that striker, Randall Klotz, had previously occupied, he peeled off on a diagonal run to the right side of the 18-yard box. Hernandez laid the ball off to Klotz as he was being surrounded by defenders. As Klotz made his run for the ball in the box, the Vikings keeper came sprinting off his line to win the 50/50 challenge. Both players went hard for the ball, colliding, and in the end, it was the keeper who came up with a big early save.

The first ten minutes of the game was mostly played in the midfield as both team’s tenacious defense made it difficult for either to maintain possession long enough to build up and effective attack on goal. However, Manteo would open the game up nearing the end of the first ten minutes of the first half. A bouncing long ball sent by Voyager was snuffed out by Manteo’s center back, Jose Velasco, as he sent a high ball back across the midfield line. A Voyager defender struggle with the trap on the ball out of the air and Hernandez was there to knock the ball to the ground and forward for the bursting run being made on the left wing by J Zafra. Zafra found plenty of space to dribble down the wing as their outside midfielder was pulled up, and the Vikings outside right back made an early slide tackle just outside the 18-yard box that Zafra easily made a touch around as he entered the box. The Vikings center back was left in a two on one situation, upon which he had to decide to either pick up the ball or negate the pass to Klotz in the middle of the box. Zafra was given plenty of space as he drew deeper in the box, and he struck it with his left foot, sailing into the upper-ninety near post, just past the outstretched arm of the keeper. Manteo was ecstatic to find themselves up early and to have Zafra back on the pitch making an impact.

The game would only open up and intensify after the first goal.  Voyager Academy would look to play their speedy striker through on a diagonal ball sent past the back line. Manteo’s Sam Diaz, had the inside track to the through ball, but the speed of #1 allowed him to win the ball. Diaz did a great job of pushing him out wide, allowing time for the center defensive midfielder, Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez, to make a recovery run to help out. The two defenders closed on the striker, forcing a shot at a difficult, tight angle, of which Velasco was there to block with his body. The ball rebounded out, only to have another Vikings player send the ball well over the goal, out of bounds for a goal kick.

Manteo would counter the Vikings attack with a solid attempt on goal minutes later after winning possession in the midfield, and playing it out wide right to Hernandez. Hernandez spun on two defenders and drove the end line. He then sent a low, hard cross into the middle of the six-yard box to Klotz, but the keeper was there to make a touch and nullify Klotz’s attempt on goal.

Manteo’s next best attempt on goal would come off a corner kick in the middle of the first half. Hernandez drove the corner across the box to find the feet of Klotz at the back post, but Klotz was unable to get a clean touch on the ball and a Vikings defender looked to clear the ball out of the box, only to have Zafra there to block the clearance. The ball fell back to the same defender, who looked to clear it again, but Zafra closed the gap and made an attempt on the ball as well. As both players struck the ball, it deflected across the front of the goal, back out wide to Hernandez on the edge of the six-yard box. Hernandez struck it low and hard first time to pump it back in for a cross. The Vikings keeper was there again to make the save as he first corralled it with his legs and then fell upon the ball to cover it up just inches from the goal-line.

Nearing the end of the first half, Manteo’s Zafra would commit and unnecessary foul along the midfield sideline on Voyager’s striker as the ball was going out of bounds. Zafra would receive a card for the illegal contact and gave up a set piece to the Vikings. Manteo held the 18-yard line on the free kick, and the Viking’s player sent the ball up and over to the far post. The Manteo defense along the far post did not keep up with their marked man, and Voyager’s midfielder found himself all alone to head the ball into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Begining the second half, it seemed to again be Manteo’s mission to win the first ten minutes of second-half play. The Redskins almost accomplished this in the first few minutes of the second half as Klotz received a throw-in from William Pendleton, upon which he flicked the ball over his marking defender, and ran it down, holding the defender off with a strong shoulder to shoulder challenge. Klotz then sent a cross in from the left wing. The cross bounced in front of the goal, just outside of the six-yard box, and both Hernandez and Edwin Perez where there to make an attempt. It was Perez in the end who would strike it, however, leaning back on the strike, he would send it sailing over the goal to no avail.

Manteo would capitalize and take back momentum five minutes later as Landon Taylor won a ball that Voyager attempted to pass out of the backfield. The ball bounced forward, and then back to Perez, who looked to play Klotz through the backline. The ball got ahead of Klotz and the Viking’s defender looked to clear it out, however, Klotz blocked the clearance and knocked it forward to Taylor making a run through the box. Taylor was able to get one touch on the ball, sending it just underneath the diving Viking’s keeper. The ball rolled into the back of the net as Taylor rolled in the air, up and over the keeper. Manteo found themselves back up on top but knew that there was a lot of soccer left to play.

Throughout the remainder of the half, Manteo’s defense held strong and continued to deny most all of Voyager’s attempts on goal, with the help of the crossbar, as the Vikings were unlucky to strike the crossbar three different times throughout the second half.

Manteo remained hungry for their third goal to help put the game away, and it almost came shortly after their second as Hernandez sent a beautiful early cross in from the right wing that found Klotz streaking past two defenders to receive the ball in the box. The keeper came out and a full speed and off-balance Klotz looked to get a final touch on the ball, but could only get a slight touch on the ball with the outside of his foot. The keeper made a great save with one hand, arm extended, as he lay out on the ground.

Midway through the second half, it would be Zafra again to come through for the Redskins with their third goal of the game. A Viking’s defender would attempt to pass forward by Zafra, along the left wing near midfield. Zafra blocked the pass and knocked it forward past the defender. Zafra dribbled the ball down the left flank with only the Viking’s center back left to defend. Zafra drew inward towards the near post as much as possible, until the defender closed the space and forced him to the corner of the six-yard box. The keeper stepped up, cutting off the near post option, and Zafra struck the ball on the ground towards the far post and it found its way past the outstretched arm of the keeper and into the far-post side-netting.

The crowd erupted on the sidelines as Manteo was now up by a score of 3-1. The Redskins repeated the “it’s 0-0 scoreline” mantra to each other to remind one another there was still ample time on the clock, and it would take everything they had to hold off the Vikings for another 20 minutes.

In the last 20 minutes of the game, Manteo would have a handful of attempts on goal, but it was the away team that dominated the run of play for the remaining time. The Manteo defense and keeper, Trent Jones Jr. would come up big with stop after stop, but it was poor marking along the far post that allowed Voyager back in the game. As Voyager built up an attack in their offensive third, the ball popped out wide, deep in the 18-yard box. The Viking’s striker played a nice cross to the far post, and Manteo’s defense had drawn too far over in their defensive shift, leaving the Vikings midfielder all alone to play a simple volley in for their second goal.

With time winding down, and Voyager Academy sending numbers forward in an effort to tie the game up, Manteo parked the bus to hold off the Vikings. With less than a minute on the clock, Voyager received a free kick outside the right corner of the 18-yard box, after a Manteo hand-ball. Manteo put five players in the wall, and everyone else marked up along the line. The Viking’s set-piece taker struck it hard, but right into the wall, and the ball bounced out of bounds for a Vikings corner kick. As the Vikings attempted to run the ball down for a quick corner, the referee turned to check the official game clock on the scoreboard, eyed the clock down to zero seconds, and blew the whistle before the corner kick could be taken. The jubilant Redskins rushed up the field to celebrate after the final whistle and they were met at midfield by their home fans rushing the field to celebrate.

Manteo will host Raleigh Charter in the fourth round of state playoffs, Saturday, November 11th, at 6pm.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This is another great win for us. Our boys are playing with so much passion, belief, and physicality, we continue to will our way to the victory. Our fan support these last two games have been prodigious, as they have become our 12th man on the pitch. Their support and spirt has inspired our players, and rattled the other teams. Voyager Academy is a very good team, and played their hearts out as well, and in the end, may have been unlucky. We look forward to taking on another tough oppenent on Saturday in the fourth round.”





Manteo’s Defense Steps Up to Shut Out the Woods Charter Wolves

On Saturday, November 4th, the Woods Charter Wolves of Chapel Hill traveled out to Manteo to compete against the Redskins in a second-round state playoff game. Manteo received a first-round bye and had the whole week to prepare for their second round match-up.  Woods Charter made easy work of their first-round opponent, North Duplin. The stage was set for an epic showdown, as both teams look similar on paper, giving up limited goals, and scoring in large numbers.

The game kicked off at a feverous pace, well above that of a normal regular season game. For the first two minutes of the game, Manteo controlled the ball and kept it in their offensive third. Manteo built up an attack on the right and played Edwin Perez into the box for a 50/50 ball with the keeper, of which the keeper won, but collided with Perez, sending him to the ground writhing in pain, holding his knee. It is always a scary sight to see any player of either team hold their knee, however, luckily for Perez, it was a collision that bruised the knee and no ligaments were damaged. Unfortunately for Manteo, Perez would need to sit the rest of the half and Manteo was already missing their season-long starting winger, J Zafra. Freshman Carter Calvio and Yeifer Perez would step up in the rotation to fill the void for Perez. Edwin Perez would return for the second half.

Manteo would regroup after the injury as well as you possibly can by scoring the first and only goal of the game. It began with Eric Hernandez winning the ball in the center midfield and playing it out wide to Noah Goetsch. A defender would meet Goetsch on the run for the challenge, and the ball popped loose. Hernandez, the forever ball hawk, was right there to pounce on it, win it back from another Wolves defender and played striker Randall Klotz into the corner of the 18-yard box. Klotz was met with a strong, full speed shoulder to shoulder challenge by Woods’ center back, but the physical Klotz stayed strong through the challenge and drove the ball to the end line. Upon reaching the end line in the corner of the box, Klotz played the ball across the goal with his left foot, into the six-yard box. The ball sailed past a defender and the keeper and seemed destined to find the foot of either Manteo’s Yeifer Perez, or Landon Taylor. Perez slipped on his attack to the ball and got minimal contact on the ball, as well as the Wolves defender on the far post. The ball popped up and back amidst a sea of bodies in the box. Hernandez came streaking across the box and struck the ball clean on the volley driving a bullet of a shot past the keeper, ripping the back of the net. It was a clinical finish, and Manteo found themselves up 1-0 in the first five minutes.

Rolling with the momentum of the early goal, Manteo would control the run of play for the next five minutes. Hernandez would receive another shot on target after Klotz received the ball amid the penalty marker while posted up and dropped it to Hernandez. Hernandez struck it hard, but it was too near the keeper and he made the save by popping it up to himself to catch.

Fifteen minutes into the first half, Manteo seemed to hit a wall, as the pace they had been playing at was unsustainable. The Wolves began to take control of the run of play and were creating chances for themselves in their offensive third.

Woods Charter had several fast, highly skilled players on the ball, and it took Manteo defenders a while to recognize they needed to get into their bodies earlier on the challenge in order to better negate their shifting moves on the ball.  Sam Diaz of Manteo showed everyone the proper way to make a physical tackle with two consecutive clinical tackles that sparked a new physical defense for Manteo.

Woods Charter’s first great look on goal against Manteo came midway through the first half as a poor clearance out of the Manteo box allowed a Wolves player to pump the ball right back into the 18-yard box. The ball was flicked up in the air and bounced around the box for what seemed like an eternity as both sides tried to get a clean foot on it. Woods Charter’s center midfielder, number 11,  would finally put his boot on the ball atop the six-yard box, only to have Manteo’s Jose Velasco block it with his body. The ball bounced right back to number 11 and he would have another crack. This time, it was keeper Trent Jones Jr. with a beautiful kick save out wide to be sent out by Goetsch.

Manteo found their second wind with ten minutes remaining in the first half and took back control of the run of play. The Redskins produced several good scoring opportunities on goal in the last ten minutes, but perhaps, none better than that of Landon Taylor’s attempt on goal. Yeifer Perez somehow managed to muscle the ball through three Wolves defenders, finding Taylor all alone on the right side of the 18-yard box. Taylor let it run and then struck it near post but the keeper made a brilliant save with the body.

Manteo continued the second half as they had ended the first half, controlling the game and threatening early. Manteo was seemingly in for their second goal just minutes into the second half as Hernandez had played a wonderful through ball past the backline of Woods Charter to find Klotz on the run. Klotz was in front of all defenders, approaching the outside of the box and as a Wolves defender pushed, and clipped him from behind with no play on the ball. Klotz tried to stay up, but he was unable to, and the free kick was awarded. The last defender deliberate foul seemingly warranted a mandatory minimum of a yellow card for the Wolves’ center back, but the referee kept all his cards in his pocket to the chagrin of the Manteo side. The referee would continue this habit of not handing out warranted cards but instead opted for the unseen approach of making the transgressing player apologize and shake hands with the victim of the foul. Klotz’ free kick would narrowly miss the upper-ninety mark.

The run of play would even out for most of the second with both teams playing full speed, and giving it everything they had. Manteo’s defense stepped up in a huge way, making timely challenges on the ground, and elevating above the others to win 50/50 balls in the air. The Redskins would focus intently on Woods Charter’s numbers 11 and 8, as they were clearly the playmakers on the field for the Wolves. Early physical challenges throughout the night helped to nullify their ability on the pitch.

Midway through the second half, Manteo would again create a great chance on goal only to have it denied by a top-drawer kick save by the Wolves’ keeper. Hernandez had made an overlapping run down the left flank to receive the ball wide, and he drove the end line, turned the corner, and cut it back to Klotz awaiting in the box. Klotz got his left foot on it, playing it on to the far post, but the keeper came up huge for Woods Charter.

Trent Jones Jr. of Manteo was not to be outdone by the Wolves keeper though, as he too stood on his head throughout the evening. Jones Jr. came up big every single time he was called upon, making punches, grabbing balls out of the air in heavy traffic, and making a few kick saves of his own.

With twelve minutes left in the game, Hernandez looked to take over and put it out of reach for the Wolves. Hernandez made a blistering 70 yard run straight up the center of the pitch, dribbling past four defenders on his way into the box. As Hernandez was pushed out to the corner of the six-yard box with the body of the center back, he struck it near post, only to have the keeper make another great save.

In the final ten minutes, Woods Charter pushed their numbers forward in an attempt to get the equalizer. The final ten minutes saw numerous corner kicks and deep offensive third throw-ins for Woods Charter. Manteo’s defense denied all attempts in prolific fashion.

Upon the final whistle, the Manteo side could brief a heavy sigh of relief and rejoice in the 1-0 victory as the jubilant student section rushed the field to celebrate with the team.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was a great win for our program tonight over a highly talented private Chapel Hill team. That is the best 80 minutes of soccer we have played all year. Our boys played inspired and displayed so much heart and desire to win. I could not be more proud of their effort tonight. Our defense stepped up and won this game for us. I have been hard on my defense all year long, especially when they gave up sloppy goals, but this is why. I know what they are capable of doing, and our team needs their full potential of play going forward to keep winning. I have never had such a hard time deciding on “player of the game” because this truly was a complete team win for us.”


Manteo Routes Northeastern To End the Regular Season

One day after defeating their new conference rivals, Manteo would host Northeastern for a makeup game on Thursday, October 26th. For both teams, it would be their third tough game of the week, but the two sides would handle the long week in completely different fashions.  Manteo was looking for a statement win to end their season in hopes of jumping Granville Central to the number two ranked team in the eastern 1A classification. On paper, the game looked to be a tough matchup, as Northeastern is a big team, with numerous skilled players about the pitch. In their previous matchup back in August, Manteo defeated the Eagles by a score of 2-0 in a hard-fought game.

Upon kickoff, both teams fought hard for an even run of possession. Manteo would work the ball further into their offensive third, prompting more shots on goal in dangerous areas. Northeastern struggled to take their possession beyond the midfield.

The game would open up ten minutes into the first half when the Northeastern captain made an atrocious blunder out of the midfield. Their captain won the ball just near midfield on the left side of the field while facing his own goal. He remained under duress and elected to drop the ball back to a defender in the backfield. However, his pass was well off the mark as there was no one really their, and Manteo’s striker, Randall Klotz pounced on the ill-advised back-pass and took it to goal for a one on one verse the goalie. It was a battle that Klotz was always going to win. He calmly placed the ball past the keeper on the ground, putting Manteo up by a score of 1-0.

Several minutes later, Manteo would get on the scoreboard again. Manteo was possessing the ball deep in the left corner of their offensive third. Upon several passes inside the 18-yard box, Northeastern got a piece of the ball, and Noah Goetsch was forced to pop the ball up in the air in an attempt to keep the ball in the box. Landon Taylor of Manteo came racing into the box to challenge the bouncing ball alongside a Northeastern defender. Taylor got enough of the ball to play it across the box towards goal. The goalie made a diving effort to corral the ball but he was under pressure as Edwin Perez came crashing in for Manteo. The keeper could not control the ball in the end and left it sitting there for Perez to tap in for goal number two for Manteo.

Manteo was just getting going as the game really began to open up for the Redskins. Minutes later, the high line and the offside trap of Northeastern was put to the test. Perez played a ball down the right flank for an oncoming Klotz who beat two defenders to the ball. Klotz pulled it back and squared the ball to Eric Hernandez who made a centric run to the top of the box. Hernandez collected the ball with his right foot, allowing his defender to continue on to his right side, before cutting it back inside to his left foot. Hernandez’s left-footed strike was low and on target, finding the back of the net for goal number three.

Shortly thereafter, it was Hernandez’s returning the favor to Klotz with the assist. Hernandez received a ball along the left wing that was played through Northeastern’s high line. He drove the ball down the flank, drawing their center back to him. Upon entering the edge of the 18-yard box, he cut in towards the near post and then laid it off on the ground towards the middle for an awaiting Klotz. The keeper was drawn out of position, and Klotz just taped it in.

Manteo was rolling, and Northeastern’s effort became more and more lackluster with each goal. Manteo was loving playing against a high line offside trap, as most of their conference opponents sit back and defend with eight players in front of the box. There was ample space behind the line to be exploited and Manteo was capitalizing on it.

Goal number five of the first half came from Hernandez playing a ball through the high line again to Klotz. Klotz was again one on one with the keeper and made easy work of the goal.

Goal number six would again come off the lethal Hernandez to Klotz combo. Hernandez would make an overlapping run off a possession by Perez. Upon receiving the pass from Perez, Hernandez took one touch deep on the right wing, before sending the cross into Klotz on the centric run. Klotz would again tap it in for the goal.

Goal number seven on the half was a lovely strike by the freshman, Yeifer Perez. Upon a throw-in on the left wing, Carter Calvio collected a bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box. Perez demanded the drop, and Calvio obliged, playing it back to him on the ground. Perez struck it one time, low and hard to the far post. It was a great technical strike that made its way past everyone, and into the back of the net.

Manteo entered the half winning by a score of 7-0.

To begin the second half, Northeastern seemed to have thrown in the towel. They put their center back at the striker position, and their midfield captain back in goal, alongside a plethora of bench players. Manteo did not make any changes to their starting line-up, except for Calvio playing in place of Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez who had received a yellow card in the first half.

It took eight minutes of the second half to get back on the scoreboard for Manteo. The Redskins again exploited the high line of Northeastern. This time it was Calvio out of the midfield delivering a well-weighted pass to Klotz on the run. Amongst three defenders, Klotz maintained possession and buried it past the keeper.

Klotz and several other attackers were called offsides more than ten total times, but they also racked up easy goals on the offside trap, with Klotz netting a personal game high of five goals.

With ten minutes off the clock in the second half, the game would end off an unlikely goal for Manteo, as they scored off a corner kick set piece. This would cement Manteo’s first goal directly off a corner kick this year. In the end, it was Noah Goetsch who came flying into the box upon the service off the corner from Hernandez. Goetsch got just enough of his knee on the ball to slot it past the keeper, and end the game in a 9-0 mercy ruling.

A 9-0 victory over a solid 2A Northeastern team was certainly not the scoreline anyone had expected to see going into the matchup, but it was the best possible result Manteo could come up with in hopes of jumping Granville Central in the rankings.

In the end, Manteo would not quite receive enough of a bump in their overall rating to overtake Granville Central’s ranking, and Manteo will receive the number three ranking in the east.

After the game, Coach Cleaver stated, “This was a great way to end our regular season. It was a long, hard week, with three difficult and meaningful games, and I am proud of our boys for giving it everything they had. Sixteen straight wins is an impressive feat, and I believe we can add five more wins to that streak. In tonight’s game, I meant no offense to the Northeastern side by not subbing when we were up 7-0, but we are in playoff mode now, and it is strictly all business from here on out. We will focus and prepare all week for our second round game next Saturday.”