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.”



Manteo Ends Conference Play With a 12-0 Record

The final conference game of the season took place on October the 25th in Edenton. The Manteo Redskins had already cemented a conference title, and Edenton had wrapped up second place in the conference, but the stakes were still high as both teams were playing for playoff rankings. Manteo first defeated Edenton by a score of 6-2, and then later by a score of 4-2 in a hard-fought game. The Aces’ speed up top can be troublesome for any defensive backline and Manteo would look to combat their speed by sitting a bit deeper, allowing less space for their strikers to run into.

The temperature fell quickly with the setting sun, and the brisk Autumn air was a clear reminder that playoffs were just around the corner. Upon kickoff, Edenton was fired up from minute one, flying about the pitch, challenging every ball with a fearless disregard for physical contact.  Manteo took their time to warm up and get going. They looked to play their possession game but shied away from early challenges. It took an early goal to really get Manteo mentally into the game.

Less than ten minutes into the first half, Eric Hernandez collected a ball on the left side of midfield with a retreating backline for Edenton. Hernandez was one on one with his defender and had him back peddling towards goal. As the ball rolled forward under the control of Hernandez, he stepped right, then left, then right, and finally made a slight touch on the ball back to the left leaving his defender in his wake. Approaching the corner of the 18-yard box, Hernandez struck the ball with the outside of his right foot, sending the ball on the ground towards the far post. He caught the keeper out of position, cutting off too much of the near post, and the keeper attempted to chase the ball down as it rolled into the far corner of the goal. The Edenton defense was stunned, and Manteo was fired up.

Upon the following kickoff, Manteo quickly won the ball back on a step-up challenge by center back, Bryson Casey. Casey won the ball in midfield and passed it wide to Randall Klotz. Klotz let it run wide a bit, before positioning around the ball to cut it back inside to Casey who had continued his run. Klotz’s ball found Casey right through the gut, unattested. Casey took a touch towards goal and then a crack on goal. It was struck low and well, but the ball blasted inches past the far post. The goal would have had Edenton reeling, but they would regroup and fight on.

Manteo would make it 2-0 soon enough though. Along the right flank, both teams were fighting for possession in Edenton’s defensive third. The ball popped out nicely to Klotz who collected it and turned inside towards goal. Klotz placed it by the first challenging defender, and then cut it back as the second defender came sliding towards him. Klotz then picked his head up, eying the goal, seeing the goalie again covering the near post. Klotz used his left foot to place it easily into the far post side netting.

The 2-0 lead over Edenton only made them play harder and faster. Edenton was winning most 50/50 challenges and it would pay off for them. Upon winning one deep in the midfield, an Edenton midfielder would play one of their two strikers through on ball down the right wing. The Aces’ striker flew down the wing, dribbling the ball wide, seemingly with one thing in mind, to cross the ball into the box. The run drew Manteo’s left back, center defensive midfielder, and one of their center backs out wide, leaving only Manteo’s other center back and right back in the box to defend the cross. The cross came low and hard, just atop the six-yard box. Manteo’s Casey was sprinting back in position and attempted to stop and flick the ball out, but he did not get enough of the ball. The ball fell nicely for the Edenton striker who had made a well-timed run into the center of the box, and he placed it low, just under the outstretched arm of Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr.

Manteo was stunned as it was Edenton’s first real attempt on goal of the game.  The Redskins would regroup and look to put a little distance on the scoreboard before the half.

Manteo’s third goal was all Klotz. He pressured a midfielder with the ball at his feet in the middle of the field. Klotz’s challenge won the ball, and he took it to goal with only the center back to beat. The center back got enough of the ball to delay and push Klotz’s run wide, allowing other defenders to get back. Therefore, Klotz cut it back and played it back inside to Hernandez. Hernandez quickly found Landon Taylor on the square pass, and Taylor found Noah Goetsch out wide on the left wing. Goetsch dribbled the ball past two defenders straight into the 18-yard box before playing it back to Klotz who had posted his defender up near the penalty marker. Klotz let the ball run across him to the right, drawing the defender that way, and then quickly cut it straight back to the left giving himself enough space for the shot. Klotz struck the ball with his left foot, sending it curling high just over the diving keeper of Edenton. It was a brilliant strike that gave Manteo some much-needed breathing room.

Manteo entered the half up by a score of 3-1, and the game would end in that result as well. The second half would be a more even run of play. Manteo would have numerous solid shot attempts on goal and so would Edenton. Manteo’s keeper, Jones Jr., came up huge, particularly late in the second half. Manteo gave up a copious amount of free-kicks in a short amount of time near the end of the second half. Edenton elected to pump the long ball directly into the 18-yard box on all of the free-kicks. Manteo’s lack of aerial challenges allowed Edenton to flick some of the balls onto goal, while others bounced dangerously over the backline towards goal. Jones Jr. was there to collect all of them though, allowing Manteo to maintain their comfortable two-goal lead.

After the game, Coach Cleaver stated, “It feels great to end conference play undefeated, especially by defeating our toughest conference opponent. Edenton is a fast and skilled team that fearlessly flys about the pitch, and it was no easy feat to defeat them three times. I am proud of our team for all their hard work so far this season. We will look to finish up the regular season tomorrow night against Northeastern, and get ready for the playoffs. I am excited about the opportunity we have to make a lot of noise in the playoffs this year as I think we are capable of beating anyone we may face. We just need to remain focused and play 80 minutes of our best soccer.”

The Redskins ended conference play with a record of 12-0, making them your Albermarle Athletic Conference champions. They will receive a bye for the first round of playoffs, and host a second-round game on Saturday, November 4th at 6pm.


Redskins Sink The Pirate’s Hopes

On October 23rd, the Manteo Redskins hosted the Perquimans Pirates for their third and final conference match-up of the regular season. It was a perfect evening for a soccer match as the temperature remained in the lower 70’s with a stiff, cooling breeze. The first time Manteo hosted Perquimans, they struggled to score, even though they tallied up a plethora of shots on goal and would win by a score of 1-0. In their second contest in Hertford County, the Redskins won in convincing fashion by a score of 7-1. Perquimans parked the bus in all contest, making it difficult for Manteo in their final offensive third. However, the Perquimans field is as wide as it is long, and it gave Manteo ample space to isolate and expose backline defenders. Manteo’s narrower field makes Perquimans’ defensive tactics more effective, but Manteo has been burning a hole in the back of the net all month long. The stage was set for a classic offensive verse defense showdown.

Manteo has already wrapped up the conference title, but make no mistake about it, they still have a lot to play for. Manteo must win out on the season to maintain their 8th overall ranking in the state 1A classification, and they currently sit at 3rd in the eastern division. They are playing for the highest possible seed in playoffs, and with that comes more playoff games with home-field advantage. Manteo traveled to both Whiteville and Wallace-Rose Hill the last two years, which are 5-6 hour bus rides. Therefore, Manteo understands the importance of home-field advantage all too well.

It was senior night for Manteo, and along with senior festivities, Chris Henderson of Manteo would be sworn in by his Army recruiter, as he will join the Armed Forces this coming January.

Upon kickoff, Manteo took early control of the ball, passing it about the midfield, and switching the point of attack through their backline. Perquimans sat eight and sometimes nine players back atop the box to defend. Manteo would work one side of the pitch, and when the ball could not be properly played through, they showed great patience in their attack by dropping it all the way to their backline and switching the point of attack to the other side. The idea seemed to be to draw Perquimans out of their defensive shell a bit. At times it worked, but often they would resist the high press and sit back patiently to defend as an entire team.

Manteo played the beautiful game. They created tight triangles for combination passing, pulled up their outside backs for drop balls in support in order to switch, and showed great build up in their attack.

Manteo’s first goal was a great example of just that. Under pressure, Manteo’s center midfielder, Eric Hernandez, dropped a ball back to left defensive back, William Pendleton. Pendleton drew a defender in the midfield, and then played it back to Hernandez showing wide into space. Hernandez would turn to find Noah Goetsch downline. Goetsch would take a touch down the line, only to pick his head up to find the striker, Randall Klotz. Klotz drew immediate pressure on the ball, so he made a backheel pass to Hernandez continuing his run into space up the field. Hernandez drew three defenders as he approached the 18-yard box, and he laid it off nicely to Klotz on the run into the outside of the box. Klotz took one touch then crushed it far post, upper ninety, at a sharp angle. The keeper did not even have time to blink, let alone attempt a save on the strike.

Not long after Manteo’s first goal, they would find the back of the net again. This time the strike would come off the foot of freshman, Noah Goetsch. Manteo was working the right wing deep in their offensive third. Edwin Perez could not turn the corner, so he dropped it all the way back to right-back, Sam Diaz, coming up to support the attack. Diaz played it right back to Perez, who one-touched it inside to Hernandez. Hernandez turned the ball inside to his left foot and had a crack. The keeper made a finger-tip save to edge the ball off the post and back into play for Perez. Perez laid the ball across the goal line. Both the keeper and Klotz made an attempt on the ball, but their collision negated either touch, and the ball found an awaiting Goetsch at the far post. Goetsch made no mistake about his one-touch strike and roofed it into the back of the net.

Manteo dominated the entire first half so much so that Perquimans had yet to get the ball into Manteo’s 18-yard box. That was until there were 15 seconds left in the first half. Manteo received a throw-in near midfield but they seemed content to let the clock expire. Carter Calvio of Manteo threw the ball in, but no one from Manteo moved towards the ball. Perquimans’ speedy number five burst past two players, chested it forward, flicked it over one Manteo center back, and then flicked the ball over keeper Trent Jones Jr. as he came out. Several Redskins chased the bouncing ball down in a last-ditch effort, but the ball found the net with next to no time left on the clock. A dominating first-half performance was quickly neutralized by a five-second lapse of focus and Manteo was seemingly in a ball game.

The second half was similar to the first half. The Redskins dominated possession, and Perquimans rarely worked the ball into Manteo’s defensive third.

Manteo would put the game out of reach for the offensively inefficient Pirates with their third goal. Hernandez controlled the ball in the midfield and found Carter Calvio making a centric, overlapping run into space. Calvin collected on the run, and then made a well-weighted pass that split two backline defenders to Goetsch. Goetsch drew the defender’s attention just before making a leading pass to Klotz on a well-timed run, right through the gut of the 18-yard box. Klotz sized up the keeper and struck it one time into the far post side netting.

Klotz would later complete the hattrick with a rebound goal. The Redskins would go on to win the game by a score of 4-1. The Redskins were pleased to see the final whistle as Perquimans began to be a bit chippy, notching 2 yellow cards in the second half, alongside several hard tackles from behind. A victory and an injury free effort made it a win-win. Playing conference opponents three times each may be proving to be a poor idea as tensions rise each match-up.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” I thought we played really well tonight. We dominated the run of the play, and aside from the momentary lapse of focus at the end of first half, I have very little to critique of our players. However, hopefully, that lapse in focus will serve as a timely lesson going into playoffs. It was great to see all of our seniors playing and play so well for us. Chris Henderson and Christian Barker gave us great minutes at the central defensive midfield position tonight. Klotz and Hernandez were dominating again, and Goetsch has stepped up in a big way providing great combo play all night long to couple a goal and an assist for himself. Carter Calvio had a terrific second half as well, really connecting layers of the formation with brilliant passes. We will look to finish up conference play on the right foot Wednesday night against Edenton.”

Redskins Beat Down The Bruins

On Wednesday, October the 18th, the Manteo Redskins traveled to Camden to face off against their conference rivals in their third match-up of the season. It was a beautiful autumn evening for a match, and the Redskins would need to show up focused and ready to play, as the Bruins are more than capable of giving them a game. In their previous two match-ups, Manteo beat Camden by a score of 2-0 on the road, and then by a score of 4-0 at home. In both contests, Camden seemed more focused on sitting back and defending, than they did in sending numbers up to support their attack.  This strategy certainly limits Camden’s scoring opportunities, but it does make it difficult for the Redskins to find space in the final third of the pitch to score. Camden would employ this same strategy again against Manteo, yielding even lesser results.

Upon kickoff, both teams took a few minutes to find their touch on the ball, as neither team was able to link up numerous consecutive passes. As the game wore on, Manteo found their touch and begin to link their passes together. Manteo looked to keep the ball wide, exploit the space and the outside back defenders of the Bruin backline. The Redskins showed great combo play through the midfield, utilizing outside backs and center defensive midfielders as support while strategically working the ball down the flanks. In the first ten minutes, the Redskins found the ball in the final offensive third of the pitch, but they were unable to either turn the corner or cross the ball in. That was until the shifty Eric Hernandez combined with Edwin Perez on the right wing to find himself with the ball deep in the right corner. Hernandez made a move around his defender and sent a high, lofty cross into the middle of the 18-yard box. As the Camden keeper scrambled to reposition himself on the cross, J Zafra was there waiting patiently for the cross. Zafra easily headed the ball just over the shifting keeper and into the back of the net for Manteo’s first goal of the evening.

Manteo must have sensed a weakness in the Bruin defense because they utilized the exact same play five minutes later to get their second goal. Hernandez would make an overlapping run down the right to receive a well-weighted ball from Noah Goetsch. This time, Hernandez would draw two defenders deep in the corner and make several moves before cutting it back, and he sent in a beautiful left-footed cross. Zafra was again waiting for the ball in the middle of the box. He elevated over his defender and headed the ball into the upper right corner of the goal. The Bruin defense began pointing fingers at each other, and Manteo sensed the mounting momentum on their side.

While Manteo dominated the run of play, the game was becoming a physical one as the Bruins grew frustrated about their lack of possession. Manteo has come a long way this year improving their physicality, and they were not about to be pushed around by the smaller team. As a result, Camden’s best look on goal in the first half came off of a free kick given up by the Redskins. The ball was set 30 yards out, and the Camden striker stood over the ball with eyes only for the goal. He struck the ball well, placing it high, over the wall, but continuously dropping on target. Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., made a leaping save to paw the ball out of the air as the ball looked to drop into the left upper-ninety of the goal. It was a difficult save, and Jones made look easy.

Minutes later, Hernandez collected a ball from Perez on right, turned it into the middle at midfield, and made a blitzing run up the gut. As he neared the top of the box, he drew several defenders. Hernandez picked his head up and spotted Landon Taylor making an unmarked, surging overlapping run up the middle as well. Hernandez laid it off to Taylor, and he struck the ball one time into the back of the net to make it 3-0.

The Redskins were rolling now, and it was Randall Klotz’s turn to make his presence known on the field.  Klotz positioned himself atop the box with a defender on his back. He received a pass from Hernandez. On his first touch, Klotz flicked the ball up and over the defender, placing it perfectly into the path of the incoming Hernandez as he made his run at goal. Hernandez let the bouncing ball die a bit as it entered the box. He opened up his hips to strike it with his right foot, placing it into the right upper corner of the goal, giving the goalie no chance at a save.

The conference’s leading goal scorer, Randall Klotz, was not to be denied a goal before the conclusion of the first half. He was hungry to bury one, and it was evident in his effort and energy he gave to make it happen. Klotz recieved the ball near midfield, on the right side of the pitch, and quickly attacked his opposing defender. The first defender got a touch on the ball, but Klotz quickly won it back and headed to the goal. Klotz would encounter two more defenders on his track to goal. He held them both off with great body positioning, and placed the ball low and into the back of the net. Manteo would enter halftime leading by a score of 5-0.

Camden would not deviate from their defense tactics in the second half. They seemed more concerned with negating further goals than scoring one themselves. Despite their defensive emphasis, Manteo would add one more goal to their tally.

Early in the second half, Hernandez pressured a Bruin backline defender, picked his pocket and headed for goal. The Bruin center back came over to help and Hernandez faked a move inside before turning back outside to his left foot as he entered the 18-yard box. The Camden goalie came out sliding, and Hernandez calmly placed the ball past the keeper, on the ground, into the far post side netting.

Throughout the second half, the Redskins would utilize their bench and continued to dominate the run of play, however, they did not net another goal. The game would result in a 6-0 win for the Redskins.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” I am pleased with another great victory. We continue to play well, and dominate most facets of the game. One facet we have certainly improved upon is our physicality on the pitch. One of the Camden coaches said to me after the game, “You have a physical team there”. I do not think he meant it as a compliment, but we certainly take it as one. Our kids are instructed to play hard, but never dirty, and that’s what they have come to do at this point in the season. Keeper, Jones Jr, had a great game with several key saves, and Hernandez was involved in every goal but one. He continues to dominate the midfield. I am also really pleased with the play of Noah Goetsch off the bench as of late. I have begun to play him in one of the central defensive midfield positions, and he and Taylor in those positions prove to make a prolific tandem, especially in terms of supporting our attack from the backfield. We will look to finish the regular season in a strong manner next week and get ready for the playoffs.”



Redskins Send the Red Barrons Home Early

On Tuesday, October 18th, the Red Barrons of Gates County made the two-hour trip south to face off against the red-hot Redskins. This would be the third and final conference match-up between the two teams. In their first matchup, Manteo dominated the game, but could only put away 2 of 43 shots to win by a score of 2-0. In their second match-up, the Redskins rolled early in the game, notching 7 goals in the first half, but only 1 in the second half to win by a score of 8-3. Manteo seemed a bit bitter about conceding 3 goals to the Red Barrons and were eager to dominate the game throughout every minute, with no slip-ups this time.

The crisp autumn air had just arrived, and as the sun set, the temperature began to drop into the 50’s. The cooler air seemed to invigorate Manteo, but a depleted Gates County team seemed uninterested in the game from the start. Upon kick-off, it was all Manteo. The Redskins found their touch early and easily as the Barrons provided little energy or pressure on the ball. Manteo was able to pass about the pitch at will. The Barrons would sit eight players back atop the box, leaving two strikers up. Their numbers at the back made it difficult at times for Manteo to find space in the final third, however, they showed great patience in their attack, and dropped the ball all the way back, before switching the point of attack. Manteo’s outside backs, Sam Diaz and William Pendleton would provide terrific service all game long for the midfielders, and they also came forward to support the width of the Redskin attacks.

The usual suspects for Manteo would kick off the scoring barrage that would occur throughout the first half. Eric Hernandez found himself with the ball just outside of the 18-yard box surrounded by four defenders. Hernandez drew them all to the left and then sharply cut the ball back to his right side, opening up a passing lane between all of the defenders. Hernandez played a well-weighted ball through the defenders to Randall Klotz on the run. Klotz would body his defender on the initial challenge, hold him off, and then strike the ball with his left foot, near post, just past the keeper’s outstretched arm. The goal came early, and it seemed to open the floodgates as the Redskins were just about to pour it on.

Minutes later, it was the lethal combo of Hernandez and Klotz at it again. This time Hernandez would one touch a bouncing ball along the right corner of the 18-yard box, crossing it over to Klotz in the middle of the box. Klotz would hit a one-touch volley out of the air, crushing it over the head of the keeper, and into the back of the net. Both the service and finish were top drawer.

Minutes later, Edwin Perez would get in on the scoring action with a well driven low shot that the keeper was unable to handle to make it 3-0.

Hernandez, becoming the perpetual creator on the pitch, would set up another beautiful goal by J Zafra. Hernandez would receive the ball at midfield and dribble past several defenders right up through the middle of the pitch. As he entered the box, Hernandez drew more defenders, and he laid the ball off calmly for Zafra who was surging through the back line on the left side. Zafra struck it one time with his left, placing the ball into the far post side netting.

Landon Taylor would follow up a deflected ball that sat nicely for him to strike the first time. Taylor struck it well and knocked it in off the keeper to make it 5-0.

Manteo’s sixth goal of the half was another beauty from an unlikely scorer in William Pendleton from the left-back position. The goal came from a patient approach from the Redskins as Yeifer Perez would work the ball wide down the right wing. When Perez found nowhere else to go with the ball, he dropped it back to Taylor, who was showing in support of the ball from atop the box. Taylor would collect and then turn the ball back inside against his defender. Seeing no space forward, Taylor dropped the ball back to Pendleton who had come up the left flank in support of the attack. Pendleton collected the ball, and then struck it with his right foot from 25 yards out. It was a beautiful shot that bent right into the near post side netting.

Later in the first half, Hernandez would go to work on several defenders deep in the right corner of the pitch. He was able to turn the corner, attack the near post, and then cut the ball back into the top of the box to find an awaiting Taylor ready to strike the ball. Taylor crushed the ball with his right foot into the right upper ninety of the goal.

With five minutes left in the first half, Andrew Hayman would find the back of the net for the Redskins. Center back Jose Velasco sent a long ball off of a free kick deep in Manteo’s defensive third that sailed over the Red Barron’s backline. As a Barron defender tried to clear the ball, a pressing Brayan Hernandez blocked the clearance and passed it into Hayman making his run into the box.  Hayman was not to be denied from atop the six-yard box, as he placed it low, and buried it, to make it 8-0 to end the first half.

The Red Barrons did not show much interest in putting up a fight for the remainder of the game, therefore the Manteo starters were given the first five minutes of the second half to finish the game off. Randall Klotz would do just that four minutes into the second half with a nice strike from atop the 18-yard box. The game would end in a 9-0 mercy ruling.

After the game, Coach Cleaver stated, ” I love the style of play we are beginning to display in games. We have been working hard in practice on possessing the ball intelligently, not forcing the issue, and using drops and switches intuitively based upon instructional communication. Tonight was a great showcase for our entire team. Everyone played early and often, and the class of play did not drop off with subs on the field. I feel we have a complete team this year, with added depth which will continue to serve us well.”

With this conference win, the Manteo Redskins mathematically clinch the conference title for the 2017 season. Undoubtedly though, the Redskins will focus on remaining undefeated in conference play.


The Original County Derby Game: Manteo Verse Hatteras

On Tuesday, October the 10th, your Manteo Redskins traveled down Highway 12 South to face off against the Hatteras Hurricanes. The game was a makeup rematch, as their second scheduled contest was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. The Hurricanes have been starved for games to play as they many of their scheduled games have been canceled due to either the weather or their new conference opponents not fielding a team this year.  They were happy to have the Redskins come play them, but by the end of the match, they were likely anything but happy.

The game kicked off at a slow pace and saw sloppy touches from both teams. Manteo seemed a bit fatigued from their hard-fought game the night before and lacked the focus to find their touch on the ball. The Hurricanes saw equal amounts of the ball for the first ten minutes and Manteo seemed unconcerned about it.

Manteo’s first goal would come off of a solo press by Randall Klotz. Klotz pressured a bouncing ball played out wide right, and the defender under pressure, elected to play it back to the keeper, yet it was a poor pass. Klotz continued his run hard to the ball as both the keeper and another defender came to challenge the ball as well. The defender and goalie got in each other’s way and were unable to clear the ball. Klotz muscled the defender to the ground and was left with a wide-open goal to pass it into for Manteo’s first goal.

Manteo’s second goal would come from Eric Hernandez pressuring a defender facing his goal with the ball. Hernandez would win the ball from the defender deep in the 18-yard box, and place the ball perfectly low and in the far post side netting.

Manteo’s third goal of the half came off a free kick placed 35 yards out. Both Eric Hernandez and Jose Velasco would line up on the kick. Hernandez approached the ball first and taped the top of the ball with one rotation forward. Velasco was quick on his approach behind Hernandez and struck the ball hard, sailing just past the wall of defenders. The ball bounced just in front of the Hatteras keeper and skipped up awkwardly over top of the keeper and into the back of the net. The set piece would give Velasco his first goal of this season from the center back position.

While Manteo entered the half up 3-0, it was by no means a pretty half of soccer or a dominating performance for the Redskins. The Hurricanes had there fair share of attempts on goal but were unable to capitalize, and Manteo was not playing their normal passing game.

The Redskins regrouped and digressed tactics at halftime and came out looking like the Redskins fans have come to expect this season. They began to dominate possession right away by tightening up their passing triangles in the midfield, supporting the ball, communicating, and utilizing overlapping runs into space. The goals begin to pour in for the Redskins. Several goals were well earned by superior play by the Redskins, and others were scored off of defensive blunders by the Hurricanes.

Both Randall Klotz and Eric Hernandez would post a hat trick on the evening. Velasco’s goal, along with a goal from Yeifer Perez and J Zafra would put the Redskins on top 9-0, ending the match 15 minutes early.

The second half saw the entire roster chipping in for the victory as Redskins were subbed in and out all half until the game was over. Once the Redskins focused on the task at hand, they showed their true class, and dominated the run of play the entire second half, giving Hatteras very few opportunities to possess the ball.

After the game, Coach Cleaver stated, “It was a frustrating first half as we did not play well in that half. I knew we may have a bit of a hangover from the previous nights tough game against Edenton, but we warned them to come out focused and take control of the game early. In the second half, once we were focused and played with more energy and effort, we looked like the team I expect to see on the pitch. I was pleased that everyone got a chance to play and contribute to the win. We will continue to keep the mindset of one game at a time.”

Manteo Posistions Themselves Nicely With a Win Over Edenton

On Monday, October 9th, your Manteo Redskins hosted the Edenton Aces for a conference rematch. In the early afternoon, the air was hot and humid and ripe with a sense of anticipation as both sides understood the gravity of this particular game. Prior to this match-up, the Redskins were two games in front of the Aces. If the Aces won, they would only be one game back, with the chance to host Manteo two weeks later for their third conference match-up. If Manteo won, they would position themselves three games in front of Edenton, with only four conference games remaining. Edenton would then need Manteo to lose all four of the remaining conference games, which would be an unlikely outcome given the winning streak Manteo has been on. The stage was set, the tension was apparent, and the energy level was high.

Manteo kicked off, and the pace on both sides of the pitch was feverish. Manteo looked to control and pass the ball on the ground throughout the midfield, obtaining most of the possession. Upon Edenton’s possession, they looked to capitalize on their speed up top by playing quick long balls and through balls into space behind the backline of Manteo. Manteo’s style of play would prove effective first in the game.

Center back, Bryson Casey would win the ball on the backline, and play a simple forward pass to center back, Eric Hernandez. Hernandez would take several touches forward through the midfield while negating his defender’s lackluster effort to win the ball back. Hernandez cut the ball back, leaving his defender, and then played Landon Taylor on an overlapping run into the left midfield. Taylor would drop it off for J Zafra on the touchline, and after a quick combo back and forth, Zafra would find the ball at his feet again. Zafra played a low and dangerous cross into the top middle of the box in an effort to find Edwin Perez. The defender on Perez would snuff out the ball, yet he stumbled to the ground as he won it, placing the ball back towards the middle of the box. Randall Klotz pounced on the ball first and buried it in the back off the net off of a crushing one-touch shot.

Five minutes after Manteo’s first goal, Hernandez would strike again for the Redskins. The center midfielder found space to dribble up the middle of the field with only one defender putting slight pressure on the ball. Confident as always with his ball skills, Hernandez worked the ball deeper down the pitch and as he approached the 18-yard box, he made a drawback cut to the left. The cutback caused the defender to turn his back for a split second, and it gave Hernandez more than enough space to set himself up for a shot. He quickly cut the ball back to his right foot and had a crack from 25 yards out. The ball was struck low and hard, and blazed past the outstretched arm of the keeper. The Redskins were seemingly in the driver’s seat with an early 2-0 lead, yet things were just about to get interesting.

Midway through the first half, with the Redskins leading, a light but constant rain began to fall. The Redskins continued to dominate the run of possession but they were pushing almost everyone up in their attacks. This was leaving too much space for the Aces to play the ball out into the midfield to start an easy counter-attack. This played right into the strength of the Aces as they have several players with tremendous speed up top. The Aces would use this speed to get their first goal of the evening.

Upon winning a defensive challenge deep in their defensive third, an Edenton defender sent the ball up the middle to their midfielder sitting in the open space that was vacated by the Manteo center defensive midfielders pushing forward on the previous attack. The Edenton players quickly sent a hard, low through-ball up the gut that sent both of Manteo’s center backs in hot pursuit of the ball and the speedy striker. The Edenton striker won position in front of the Redskins center backs, and the Manteo keeper was slow off his line to the ball, allowing the striker one quick touch just past the keeper to make it a 2-1 ball game.

In soccer, a team is always the most vulnerable to give a goal the first five minutes after giving up a previous goal. Manteo would fall victim to that statistic as the Aces would knot the game at two goals apiece just minutes later. Center back, Jose Velasco, would challenge an Edenton attacker along the right wing in Manteo’s defensive third. Velasco made a solid challenge but was unlucky in the end result as the ball somehow squirted right back into play for the attacker. Velasco chased in recovery as the ball made its way into the box. Two other Manteo defender’s closed in the attacker, yet they all appeared hesitant to made contact with the attacker for fear of causing a penalty kick. Therefore, the attacker made his way into the six-yard box unabated and struck the ball well, placing it by the Manteo keeper, and into the far-post side netting.

Manteo now found themselves in a tight ball game for the first time in over a month. The rain persisted, Edenton had the momentum, and to make matters worse, striker Randall Klotz would just pick up a yellow card. As Klotz was forced to come out of the game in the first half due to the card, the Manteo coaching staff would need to make an important decision as to what to do with him. Klotz was needed on the pitch, but another hard challenge from in a hard-fought physical game could leave Manteo playing down a man. In the end, the decision was made, and Klotz was immediately subbed right back in the game. Thirty seconds after returning to the pitch, Klotz would score his second goal of the evening, putting Manteo back on top.

Edenton continued to threaten the Redskin back line with speedy counter attacks and afforded themselves numerous chances. As one of their chances landed in the safe hands of Manteo keeper, Trent Jones Jr., the Redskins would look to build their attack from the back. Jones Jr. rolled the ball wide to right back, Sam Diaz. Diaz would then play the ball on a short diagonal to the center defensive midfielder, Landon Taylor. Taylor would find the center midfielder, Eric Hernandez, who would then keep the switch by playing to the left midfielder, J Zafra. The ball sent Zafra through the left midfield, drawing the attention of several Edenton defenders. Zafra would cut in and play a well-weighted pass to Klotz who was making his run up the middle. The ball was just a bit behind Klotz, yet he made a brilliant turn on the ball, pulling it back from behind him, turning the ball and his body 180 degrees, all while setting the ball up perfectly for a strike with his right foot. Klotz’s strike was confident, and assuredly another goal from the moment he struck it. Klotz’s third goal of the evening was certainly one of Manteo’s greatest team goals of the season and it put the Redskins up by a score of 4-2.

The Redskins would enter the half up two goals and would make tactical changes to negate the Edenton counter attacks and direct approach up the middle.

The second half tactical changes certainly seemed to defuse almost all of the Ace’s attacking prowess, as their attacks in the second half were sparse. Manteo made sure to sit one of their center defensive midfielders back in front of their backline at all times in order to snuff out their intermediate outlet passes to start their counter-attack.

Manteo absolutely dominated the second half of the game, racking up a plethora of shot attempts, yet they were unable to finish another one. However, Manteo’s unrelenting attack wore down the Edenton defense to the point they were almost unable to even get the ball up to their attackers. T

The game would end on an odd note as Hernandez found himself dribbling through backline defenders and into the top of the box. Just as Hernandez entered the box with the ball, one of the two defenders clearly clipped Hernandez straight from behind, while not getting any of the soccer ball. Hernandez was taken to the ground on what was assured to be awarded as a penalty kick, yet the official looked at the game clock to note only 30 seconds left in the game, and decided to swallow his whistle.

Regardless of the no-call, the Redskins obtained the victory and set themselves up for a conference title. The Redskins will face each conference opponent once more this season and will need to win only one of those four games to clinch the title. While the mathematics of it all seems nice, I am sure the Redskins will strive to win out as “undefeated conference champs” sounds a lot better than just “conference champs”.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, ” This was a tremendous win for us! We understood the importance of it, and we got it done. They are a solid team, with lots of speed about the pitch, and their offense can be tough to deal with. After getting burned a few times on counter attacks, we tightened up defensively, made the necessary adjustments and shut them down. I think Randall played his best game of the year tonight, providing exceptional energy and effort up top all night long, and he was a force they were unable to stop. Eric Hernandez continues to get better and better at his new role of playmaker in the middle and he controls everything for us offensively, but he also expands a great deal of energy on the defensive side of the ball which necessary for us to be a truly great team. We are proud of our boys for their effort tonight, and I am ecstatic over the class of our fourth goal which played through every level of our formation from one side to another. The team is trusting in the system and delivering the results.”