Penalty Kicks Decide Manteo’s Fate

On Thursday, November 8th, your Manteo Redskins faced off against the Patriots of Franklin Academy in the third round of state playoffs. Manteo’s confidence was unwavering going into the matchup, however, it was understood that the Patriots would be a formidable foe. Last year, Franklin Academy won the eastern division and went on to the state championship game in which they lost to Bishop McGuiness. Franklin Academy is an elite program that consistently produces year after year.

The stage was set for an epic third round showdown and neither team would disappoint its fans. Heavy rains that moved off the coast the night before the game left the Manteo field slippery in certain spots and gust of wind up to twenty miles per hour made conditions less than ideal. Despite the conditions, both teams were eager to play and understood it was the same for both sides.

The game kicked off and Manteo took early control of possession while the visiting opponents looked to settle in and find their shape. Early on, Manteo looked to overload the right flank and pump balls into the box. The first few attempts were thwarted by the Patriots but the Redskins would continue the tactic as they felt they had found a weakness in the Patriot defense while scouting them play against Hatteras in the previous round.

The tactic would pay off just ten minutes into the game. It began with Manteo’s center back, Jose Velasco, winning a ball at midfield and playing a diagonal to Manteo’s right winger. Carter Calvio pinched in off the right flank to receive the ball from Velasco. As Calvio received the ball and drew the attention of the Patriot left back, Manteo’s center attacking midfielder made a diagonal run out wide. Calvio played Erik Hernandez out into space and behind the backline. Herandez took a touch down towards the end line and then whipped a beautiful cross to the far post. Striker, Andrew Hayman went up to the head the ball but just missed it, leaving the keeper in the lurch. The ball sailed past Franklin defenders and their keeper and found the foot of Noah Goetsch off the back post. Goetsch went for the volley, getting just enough contact on the ball to send it bouncing back across the goal. Hayman attempted to connect on the ball as it crossed his path again. While he did not connect, it confused the keeper and the defender. The defender was facing his goal as the ball bounced towards the side netting. Just a few yards off the goal line, the defender was hopefull in the keeper’s presence, but his positioning was too far off the ball, and the defender had to make an effort to clear it himself while facing the goal. A difficult task and awkward positioning allowed the ball to find the back of the net.

Manteo rejoiced in the early goal and felt a resurgence of confidence. The goal motivated both teams as the restart saw an even faster pace and higher intensity. This, unfortunately, is where the referee’s whistles began to kill the game. Whistle after whistle began to blow. A few foul calls were warranted but most were unexplainable. The highly skilled players on both sides know how to play soccer with their hips and shoulders, which are legal ways of obtaining position and the ball, however, the legal challenges were called over and over.

The game began to become a myriad of free kicks. The beautiful game became marred by the whistle and lack of possession play.

Throughout the remaining time of the first half, both teams would take turns having control of the game for brief five to seven minute periods. Manteo’s attack earned three more lethal opportunities on goal but failed to convert. Manteo’s defense in the first half remained diligent and stifling, holding the Patriot attack scoreless at halftime.

Any attacks up the middle were snuffed out through the strong triangle play of Sam Diaz, Jose Velasco, and Bryson Casey. On the outsides, Yeifer Perez and William Pendleton held strong on their own, allowing nothing by them.

Manteo would lead 1-0 at halftime.

Four minutes into the second half, Manteo made a costly mistake on a goal-kick. The Redskins opted to play the goal-kick short out to Velasco who was positioned out wide of the 18-yard box. The rest of the Redskins were not yet ready for the designed kick, and Velasco did not have his three options showing for the ball. He had to force it up the sideline, in which it was turned over and passed quickly into the middle. A Franklin Academy midfielder opted to strike the pass one time from 30 yards out. The shot was placed high but it dipped quickly amidst the strong wind. Keeper, Trent Jones Jr., elevated to punch it over the crossbar but just narrowly mistimed it. The ball dropped in, hit the bottom of the crossbar, went straight down, and spun over the line for a game tieing goal.

Play continued on as much of the first half did with constant, disruptive, and unnecessary whistles. Manteo continued to overload the flanks and pump balls in when given a chance as the strategy proved to be useful in the first half.

It was proven to be effective again, mid-way through the second half, when Hernandez again found himself on the ball down the right wing after making an overlapping run into space. He served the ball to the top of the six-yard box for the striker, Joe Zafra. Zafra went up for the ball shoulder to shoulder with the defender and won the challenge, but the ball redirected up and backward off his head. The ball was bouncing its way outside of the box for a Franklin defender to collect and clear when Pendleton came sprinting up the pitch for the ball. Pendleton’s reckless abandonment in regards to winning the ball allowed him to do just that as the Franklin defender turned his back to the ball at the last second. Pendleton looked to fire off a shot as the ball bounced awkwardly. The shot spun off his shin and back to the middle of the six-yard box. Zafra was still actively engaged inside the box, beat his defender to the ball and cut back a left-footed shot that skipped its way into the far post side netting. The players, the coaches, and the fans all erupted in jubilation as the goal gave Manteo a 2-1 lead.

Minutes later, Franklin was awarded a penalty kick as Diaz made an ill-timed tackle inside the 18-yard box. Trent Jones Jr stared down the opponent on the ball before the kick. Upon the penalty shot, Jones Jr made an explosive dive off his line, fully extended to his left to save the ball from going in the goal. The ball bounced back out and the same shooter got another chance at the ball as the rest of both teams raced into the box behind him. Jones Jr. again made another save that sent the ball back out into the box. Another Franklin attacker got his foot on the ball for a third shot and Jones Jr. swallowed this one up, negating anymore rebound shots. Three saves in less than four seconds had the Manteo squad fired up.

Manteo tightened up defensively was holding strong to their 2-1 lead. The Redskin defenders were attacking every single ball in the air sent in from the seemingly unending plethora of free kicks taken by Franklin Academy.

With seven minutes left in the game, Franklin made a long throw-in that placed the ball just inside the top of the 18-yard box. Casey, Velasco, and a Patriot attacker all went up for the ball in the air. Velasco won the ball but headed it straight down to the ground. The ball bounced up behind Casey as he was landing from his elevated challenge. Casey’s hands had come down to his waist and the ball played his hand along his side. The ref blew his whistle quickly and pointed to the spot. Even the Franklin players were surprised by the hand-ball call.

The Manteo side prayed for more magic from Jones Jr. A different player opted to take this penalty kick for Franklin. He made the most of his strike and buried it. The game was now tied at 2-2 with seven minutes left.

It was a crushing blow to the Redskins to have a goal gifted to the Patriots so late in the game. They did not hang their heads, yet continued to battle for a third goal. Yeifer Perez turned a midfielder over and unleashed a 35-yard strike that had the crowd gasping in anticipation. The blistering shot had to be punched over the crossbar as the keeper dove back to save it from winning the game.

Regulation play ended with the 2-2 scoreline. The teams would enter two ten minute overtime periods.

Within the first two minutes of the first overtime period, Franklin scored their third goal. On a long throw-in, Velasco again won the ball but it was diverted right into the path of a Franklin attacker making an inside run. He quickly played their striker through the backline, and the striker buried it the first time.

While conceding an early goal was certainly not what Manteo wanted to do, it did leave them with 18 minutes of soccer left to be played. In the remaining eight minutes of the first overtime period, Manteo earned a few chances towards goal but a defensive minded Patriot squad held strong.

The first overtime period ended and Manteo made drastic changes for the second ten minute period. Jose Velasco was moved from center back to supporting striker. Casey was subbed out and freshman, Irving Chavarria came on. Manteo went to three at the back to allow more attacking players forward.

A few minutes into the second overtime period, Manteo’s holding midfielder went out with severe cramps. Diaz had covered an exorbitant amount of ground throughout the fixture and it had taken its toll on him. Freshman, Justin Ortega, was called to fill his place.

With four minutes left, Hernandez made a long throw into the box from the right flank. Landon Taylor went up and won the ball against his defender. Taylor knocked it down and back for Ortega. With the ball bouncing towards him, Ortega opted to shoot it out of mid-air. As he did, he was taken down by a Franklin defender and awarded a penalty kick.

Landon Taylor stood over the penalty kick for Manteo. With confidence and a bit of cheekiness, Taylor drove the ball up the middle as the keeper dove out of the way on his guess attempt. The stadium noise reached unprecedented auditory levels as the home side rejoiced in the deliverance of their third and game tieing goal.

Manteo made formational changes to revert to their original line-up, minus Diaz.

The second, ten minute overtime period came to an end with the game tied at 3-3. It would go into two, five minutes, golden goal periods (meaning any goal scored immediately ends the game).

Both teams earned several attempts at goal, but neither could deliver the coveted golden-goal. The game would be decided by a penalty shootout.

Each team can select any five players to take a penalty kick. The team that makes the most by the end of five wins. In the event the teams are still tied at the end of five kicks, it goes to one and one until one team scores and the other does not.

Manteo’s order of kickers for the first five was Hernandez, Taylor, Velasco, Calvio, and Perez. They all knocked them in for goals. Unfortunately, Franklin Academy’s first five scored all five of their attempts as well. Jones Jr. was millimeters away from saying the fourth kick taken by Franklin, but it slipped past him. Franklin’s sixth kicker made his penalty kick and Manteo’s sixth kicker placed his just wide of the right post.

Franklin rushed in to celebrate the victory. Some Manteo players fell to the floor while others ran to console the sixth kicker.

The previously thunderous Manteo crowd fell utterly silent in disbelief.

Through the entirety of the match, there were 45 fouls called. Twenty-four against Manteo, and twenty-one against Franklin Academy. In any game, at any level, 45 whistles for fouls is an almost unthinkable number. For those watching the game and for those understanding how the game is played with the hips and the shoulder, that number is sickening. Two great possession teams were robbed of playing their style of play they both train year-round for. The kids on both sides deserve better.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “It’s is devastating to go out in that fashion but I could not be prouder of all of our kids. They played with heart and kept their composure throughout the entire game. It is one of those games I will look back on for years to come and think, “What if?”. However, we had a season worthy of remembrance as well. We earned the number one seed in the east and for good reason. We can play with and beat absolutely any team in the state on any given night. We were undefeated conference champs and earned an overall record of 18-2. These kids all bought into our philosophy and system. They all trained hard year-round. We set two goals last spring; to earn the number one seed in the east (to have home-field advantage in playoffs) and to win a state championship. We accomplished one of the incredibly difficult goals. While we fell short of the other, what we did accomplish was instilling the belief not just in ourselves but in our entire community that we are an elite program and that we can and will win a state title. I’d like to thank all our players, my assistant coaches, Michael Goetsch, and John Eric Cleaver, our parents and our fans for their efforts and support this season. When the dust settles in a week, we will get back to work, training for next season.”






Manteo Rides Past The Knights Onto The Third Round

Manteo kicked off its journey through the state playoffs on Tuesday, November 11th in a home match verse Vance Charter in the second round of playoffs. Your Redskins earned the number one seed in the east, giving them a bye for the first round, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite the pending foul weather approaching later in the evening, it turned out to be a perfectly warm and windy November night for a soccer match.

The Redskins had over a week and a half off since there last regular season game. Despite a great week of practice, it would take them a little while to find their game.

The game kicked off with Manteo dropping it back and the Vance Charter Knights packing back. In the first few minutes, the Knights opted to feel out the Redskins by defending with ten men. A couple minutes into the game, they would then relax a bit, opting to allow their attackers to stretch their formation a bit more. They continued to defend with eight men throughout the fixture as Manteo controlled possession and the tempo.

Facing eight defenders atop the box, the Redskins opted to look to play the ball wide to their wingers and pump balls in. Manteo produced a lot of dangerous balls in, but they were unable to connect on the crosses early on.

The first great chance at the goal came from Erik Hernandez on a solo run up the slot. After receiving the ball in the midfield, Hernadez turned to find open space in front of him. He drove the ball forward with a midfield defender pressing from behind. As he neared the top of the box, the Knights center back was awaiting him. Hernandez made several stepovers to pass by the center back and into the box, while the trailing defender pressed on his side, knocking Hernandez off balance. Hernandez did well to keep his feet upon the stumble, regathered himself on the ball, and fire a shot that hit the outside of the near post side netting.

Minutes later, Manteo sent a ball into space down the left wing of which striker, Andrew Hayman, ran down in the corner. Hayman dropped it back to Noah Goetsch on the support pass, and Goetsch crossed it into the box for McOwen. McOwen got a touch on the volley that sent it to goal but the keeper made a fully extended diving save to push it wide of the goal.

Eighteen minutes into the game, Manteo would get on the scoreboard with a brilliant solo play from Herandez. Sam Diaz won a 50/50 ball in the midfield and quickly found Hernandez open in the center atop the box. Facing a box of four defenders, Hernandez split through three of them to make his way into the box. Drawing two defenders outside to the left in pursuit, Hernandez cut it back, stopping on a dime as the defenders went past. He spotted his target and drilled it past the keeper just as the fourth defender slid into to block the shot for his first goal of the match.

Ten minutes later, Hernandez would find the goal again. Zafra sent Hernandez through on his diagonal run outside. He took on two defenders, got in behind the line and angled his run towards the near post. Upon entering the corner of the six-yard box, Herandez again cut it back and belted it at the keeper. The ball deflected off the body of the keeper and into the back of the net.

The Knight’s keeper would regroup, and go on to make several notable saves later in the match. Minutes after giving up the second goal, Hernandez played McOwen through the backline on a diagonal ball that split two defenders and led McOwen in on the near post. As the ball set up perfectly for McOwen on his inward run, he fancied a strike the first time. He crushed it on a low line drive but it was too close to the keeper. The keeper did well to hold onto the ball without conceding a rebound.

The first half concluded with Manteo leading by a score of 2-0. The Redskins dominated the half but were unable to put away several good chances.

From the start of the second half, the Redskins were peppering the goal once again. They awarded themselves two quick shots on goal from Sam Diaz through combination play that dropped the ball back for Diaz’s shot.

Five minutes into the second half, Landon Taylor put his shooting boots on and unleashed a rocket of a shot from 30 yards out. Taylor set himself up on the dribble finding plenty of time and space to fancy a shot. It was driven well but right at the keeper. The ball had too much pace on it and the keeper opted to punch it over the goal.

When the Knights did find themselves on the ball, their possession was quickly snuffed out by Diaz holding the midfield and the rest of the stout Manteo backline.

While the Redskins completely dominated the run of play, they struggled to find their finishing touch. Zafra, Calvio, and Hayman would all have great shots on goal, but they were either saved by the keeper or went just inches wide of the post.

Midway through the second half, Vance Charter had pushed up the field a bit in possession of the ball. They were quickly turned over and Manteo looked to counter as they were pushed up. Hernandez found the ball deep in the defensive midfield and opted to dribble at pace past a plethora of defenders. Hernandez blew by them all and down into the 18-yard box and got his shot off with his left foot admist four defenders. The keeper made a diving save, pushing the ball back off the line. Zafra pounced on the rebound inside the six-yard box but the Knight’s keeper was worthy of a terrific second save, knocking the ball out of bounds.

Hernandez would not be denied on his next shot attempt. Carter Calvio worked the ball down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box. Zafra was on the near post run and Hernandez filled the middle. Zafra executed a dummy over the ball, leaving it for Hernandez. Hernandez calmly placed it into the near post side netting to cement his hat-trick on the evening.

The Redskins continued to blister the goal with shots and crosses, seeing balls hit the post and bounce inches wide, but they would fail to net any more goals on the evening. The Manteo defense made short work of any attack produced by the Knights as they looked to push numbers forward while being down 3-0.

On the evening, Manteo racked up 9 corner kicks and 36 shots of which 16 were on target.

Manteo advances to take on Franklin Academy in the third round of state playoffs. The game will be held at Manteo, November 8th, at 6 pm.



A Senior Night Send Off

Manteo wrapped up the regular season on the 24th day of October when the Hatteras Hurricanes blew into town. Both teams had just won their respective conferences and were looking to go out on a win heading into the state playoffs. In their previous encounter back in September, Manteo defeated Hatteras by a score of 5-0. Despite the scoreline, Hatteras is no category one hurricane this year. They have several good players layered throughout their formation and are one of the most physical teams Manteo has faced all year.

The rematch would prove to be another difficult game and an even more physical contest that likely left both sides with quite a few bruises.

It was senior night for the Redskins, although not a lot of changes would need to be made to the starting line up, as Manteo is certainly senior heavy this year. Eight of the nine seniors are regular starters for the team. Bradys Zavala would be inserted into the left wing position to make his first start of the season.

Upon the kickoff, Manteo looked to take early control but they struggled to maintain consistent possession as they are so accustomed to. The Hurricanes physical play looked to bump the Redskins off the ball and throw off their first touch. The strategy was highly effective for the first ten minutes as Manteo readjusted to the physical style of play. Manteo’s holding midfielder, Sam Diaz, was the first on the home side to reciprocate the physical style of play and the others followed suit. Diaz played a brilliant game in the midfield, limiting the Hurricane’s time and space on the ball to get an attack going. Diaz used his body to shield and protect balls, went hard for the 50/50 balls in the air, and made a deluge of well-timed physical tackles.

Manteo’s first great attempt on goal came off a long throw-in from Ryan McOwen. McOwen launched the ball deep into the box from the right sideline. The ball fell right to Erik Hernandez inside the six-yard box. Hernandez brought it down nicely and turned to face the goal for a shot. He was a bit off balance on his turn and it limited his quality on the shot, as it was hit right at the keeper five yards away.

Hernandez would make it count on his next attempt through beautiful combination play that began with Manteo’s right back, Yeifer Perez. Perez kicked the play off after receiving a switch about the backline, and then quickly made an attacking diagonal run into the center of the field. As he dribbled from the right into the center, drawing the attention of the central defenders, both Taylor and Hernandez were on the move ahead of the ball. Taylor was making a crossing route in front of the ball into the top of the 18-yard box. Hernandez was making a parallel run to the ball. Perez played Taylor on the crossing route and he quickly flicked it back to Hernandez on the counter-crossing route. The backline was left bewildered and Hernandez found himself wide open in the middle of the box with just the keeper to beat. He made no mistake about it this time as he finished in the bottom side-netting on the left side of the goal.

The Hurricanes continued to battle hard and obtained possession in the Manteo defensive third several times but the Redskin backline held strong by never allowing any real threat of a shot on target.

Manteo began to attempt to take advantage of the Hurricane’s high line. There was plenty of space to play balls into behind their line and Manteo varied the attempts. McOwen and Taylor were both played through but failed to convert as a defender and the goalie made last-ditch efforts to thwart the attack. Manteo’s striker, Joe Zafra, however, would make the most of his break away.

Diaz started it all by winning the goalie’s punt and heading it forward to Taylor. Taylor was under pressure upon bringing it down and played it back to an encroaching Hernandez. Hernandez quickly played a well-weight ball through to Zafra on the run through the backline. Zafra was in on goal, took a touch out to his right, drew the keeper over towards the near post, and then finished with a low shot back to the far post.

With twenty minutes left in the first half, it was 2-0, and the score would remain that way until three minutes left in the half.

McOwen won a ball out on the far right flank and dribbled diagonally into the box. McOwen then unleashed a line-drive bullet right at the keeper that deflected off his hands and across the goal. Noah Goetsch was ready and waiting on the far post and clean it up quickly, netting Manteo’s third goal of the game.

During halftime, Manteo seniors and their parents were recognized. The senior class of 2018 encompasses Bryson Casey, Sam Diaz, Erik Hernandez, Trent  Jones Jr., Ryan McOwen, William Pendleton, Landon Taylor, Jose Velasco, Bradys Zavala, and manager Ian Johnston.

Minutes into the second half, Zavala was inches away from netting his first goal of the season and he bodied a ball towards goal that was sent in from a Hernandez corner kick. A Hurricane defender cleared it off the line just before Zavala’s ball could cross the line.

The physicality of the game intensified in the second half, particularly in the midfield, as the Hurricanes grew tiresome of Manteo’s midfield dancing on the ball and passing around them through their midfield triangle.

Manteo continued to exploit the high line of the Hurricanes. Hernandez began to play quicker balls out of the midfield and for Manteo’s fourth goal of the fixture, he found Taylor making a deep run out of the midfield past the Hatteras backline. It was a well-weight ball through for Taylor and he found himself being closed in on from both sides as the defenders pressed hard. Taylor made his way into the box and got his shot off just in time as the defenders engulfed him. The quick and low shot caught the keeper sleeping and found the back of the net.

Things got a big chippy from there as Hernandez had his legs swept out from under him. The defender saw none of the ball and was awarded a yellow card for his misconduct and unruly tackle.

The Redskins would not back down from the physical play. In fact, it seemed to incite their desire to score more goals. Carter Calvio flashed a bit of brilliance to make the score 5-0 with twenty minutes remaining in the game. Manteo took a corner kick that was headed out of the six-yard box to the top of the 18-yard box. A Hatteras defender looked to control and turn the bouncing ball out. Calvio let the defender make the first touch before swooping in from behind to steal it away. His touch took him away from goal but he flipped his hips on his strike, opting for a chip shot bound for the far post. The keeper could only turn to watch it float over his head and into the goal.

With fifteen minutes left in the game, Manteo opted to make a copious amount of substitutions. It was unclear whether the substitutions were in response to the scoreline or to avoid injuries to key players. Either way, the style and effectiveness of Manteo’s play were not lost with the new lineup. They continued to control the majority of possession and even added one more goal to the scoreline.

The goal began with Ivey Midgett playing a well-weighted diagonal ball to Brayan Hernandez on the right wing. Hernandez quickly drove the ball into the right corner of the box before playing a ball across to striker, Andrew Hayman. Hayman made an attempt to put it away the first time, but the ball squirted by him. It rolled back to the top of the box, past everyone, falling to Joe Zafra. Zafra played it to his left and opted for a left-footed strike but it rolled off the side of his foot with little force. Hayman was still atop the six-yard box, having gathered himself, he then played this second ball on the first time with no mistake about it. The ball found the back of the net and Hayman found redemption within seconds by staying focused.

The game would end in a 6-0 victory for your Manteo Redskins. The Redskins finish the regular season with a 17-1 record. The rankings were updated today (10/26/18) and Manteo held onto their number two ranking in 1A state classification. They also finish as the number one team in the eastern part of the state. This gives Manteo home field advantage all the way through the state playoffs.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was a great game for us to prepare for playoffs with. The tempo was fast paced and it was an incredibly physical game. I love physical soccer. We needed to be tested with a team that showed no fear against us. The score does not show just how hard Hatteras forced us to play. This may have been the hardest 6-0 victory I have ever seen. Our midfield trio stepped up their tempo and covered a lot of ground tonight. Pendleton was the energizer bunny out on the left. I could go on and on. I was pleased and I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the playoffs. We worked extremely hard all spring and summer to prepare for this top seed and this run towards a title.”

Undefeated Conference Champs

The Albermarle Athletic Conference play would come to an end on Monday, the 22nd day of October. Manteo would face off against Edenton for their third match-up of the season, and the second consecutive game. In their first match-up, Manteo defeated the Aces by a score of 7-1 and by a score of 9-0 in last weeks fixture. While Manteo was dominating in their previous encounters, Edenton is still not a team to be taken lightly as they have one of the conference’s better strikers roaming atop that can bust one at any time.

As the game kicked-off, Manteo took early control of possession and kept the ball on their offensive side of the field. Edenton made several notable adjustments to start the fixture. Their top striker, number 17, was dropped back into a center-defensive midfield role. The switch suggested a keen focus of simply keeping the scoreline respectable, as opposed to 9-0. The strategy would work, at least for the first half.

Despite a plethora of scoring opportunities, Manteo would only put one shot in the back of the net during the first half. The home side seemed to be playing a bit too reserved and comfortable, just waiting for goals to happen, instead of making them happen.

The goal itself, however, was pure class. Erik Hernandez collected the ball in the midfield and found vertical space with only a defensive midfielder pressuring him from the side. Hernandez dribbled down the pitch with the defender trying to recover into a better position. Hernandez stepped over the ball, faking to his right and then cut it back to his left, atop the box. The backline defenders were now stepping up to close on the ball but Hernandez fired a bullet with his left foot that split three defenders and blistered the far-post side netting.

The goal took place just ten minutes into the first half, but Edenton would hold strong for the rest of the half. As the minutes ticked by, Edenton grew a bit more confident with the 1-0 scoreline. The away side was pleased to enter the half with that score.

The Redskins discussed their tactical changes at the half, insisting on using more width with quicker diagonal balls out of the midfield. In the second half, the tactic was applied and the floodgates opened up.

Manteo found their focus to start the second half and looked to reassert their dominance. Their touch was clean, their passes were quick and efficient, and shots were on target.

Eight minutes into the second half, Manteo took a corner kick and a crowded 18-yard box would result in the ball bouncing about the sea of bodies. It popped out to Yeifer Perez who would attempt to thread the needle. The shot deflected over to Hernandez and he would try the same. The shot again deflected off a defender and made its way towards the back post, outside the crowded zone. Noah Goetsch had been holding his space and pounced on the ball that squirted his way. He calmly placed the ball past the pressing defender and sliding keeper to double the score.

Minutes later another corner kick was won by the Redskins. The first ball in by Hernandez was low and deflected back out towards him. Hernandez tracked it down outside of the box and quickly sent a beautiful curling cross back into the box. The Edenton side has looked to quickly push out of the box upon the first clearance, leaving lots of space for the ball to be played into. Yeifer Perez was on the same page as Hernandez and made crashing run for the bending ball in. Perez opted to leave his feet and attempt a flying volley. His touch sent the ball flying over the crossbar. His attempt received cheers from the crowd.

Manteo’s backline had little difficult defending to do with the Aces top striker focusing on defense for the game. The one deep run Edenton’s number 17 made up the gut at pace was snuffed out by a hard-nosed sliding tackle by Jose Velasco.

Noah Goetsch has been finding his finishing form as of late and would net the third goal of the game for the Redskins. Hernandez played an early diagonal ball out wide to Joe Zafra who then sent a lofty cross into the middle of the box. The ball bounced passed Hayman and his defender and made its way to the far post. Again, Goetsch was holding his space out wide, timed his run on the ball in, and hit it on the half-volley. Goetsch crushed it into the far-post side netting.

The game really began to loosen up in favor of the Redskins at this point. The Aces kept their defensive mindset but it was being rendered futile by the prolific layered attack of the Redskins.

As the Aces took a throw in their midfield, an errant throw sent the ball directly to Manteo’s left-back, William Pendleton. Pendleton made a strong header forward, spitting two defenders, and playing striker, Andrew Hayman, into space behind the line. Hayman found himself making a run into the box with two defenders in pursuit and only the keeper to beat. The keeper stayed on his line for a second too long, and when he did move forward, he opened up the far post with poor positioning. Hayman struck it to the far side to make it 4-0.

Miscommunication on by the Aces defense lead to Manteo’s fifth goal. Brayan Hernandez whipped a ball in from near the sideline on the right flank. Two defenders and the keeper all looked at each other as the ball entered the top of the six-yard box. They all seemed to expect the other to play it out and the ball squirted right past all three of them. Hernandez had kept his track on the ball and happily obliged to tap it in from three yards out as the ball fell right to his right foot.

A few minutes later, Landon Taylor would add to the flood of goals with a clinical strike from outside the box. He received a pass from Hernandez out of the midfield, turned towards goal, touched it wide around his defender and ripped it into the bottom corner of the far-post side-netting.

Herandez would net yet another hat-trick on the season as he drove the ball at pace right up the gut towards the top of the box. Upon meeting the backline defenders atop the box, he laid the ball off to his right with the outside of his foot and bent his run off to the left. Four defenders followed the ball, looking to win it first, but it was Ryan McOwen getting the first touch on the ball in the box. McOwen simply one-touched it right back over to Hernandez now all alone in front of the left post. Hernandez placed it by the keeper towards the far post to make it 7-0.

Noah Goetsch received the second hat-trick of the match with Manteo’s final goal in the waning minutes. Brayan Hernandez made a deep run into the far right corner, beating his two defenders before playing a beautiful far post cross. The ball found Goetsch awaiting the ball atop the six-yard box. Goetsch headed the ball straight down towards goal. Hayman had been tracking the ball back as well and as he turned to watch Goetsch head it down, he lifted his leg up in front of the keeper in an effort to redirect the ball away from the keeper. Hayman did not touch the ball but faked out the keeper, and the ball bounced between the keeper’s legs for Manteo’s eighth goal of the evening.

The win made Manteo 12-0 in conference play and your 2018 Albermarle Athletic Conference undefeated champions!

Manteo had 6 corner kicks, 31 total shots, with 15 shots on target. Edenton had two soft shots on target that Jones Jr. collected with no problem.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “It is incredibly difficult to beat any team three times in a row. It is even more difficult for young players to be mentally ready after beating teams twice before by a large margin. We were not necessarily 100% dialed in during the first half, but we made the appropriate half-time adjustments and came out and played like the champions we are in the second half. I am incredibly proud of this group of young men for once again remaining perfect through conference play.”




Manteo Is Beginning to Flex

The Edenton Aces rolled into town on the evening of Thursday, the 18th day of October. It was a beautiful, cool Autumn evening that beckoned for a soccer game under the bright lights. The Aces were coming off a big win over Camden the night before and were looking to spoil the Redskins winning streak.

While Manteo mathematically wrapped up the conference title on Monday with a win over Camden, the Redskins have been playing for much more than just a conference title all season. They had their sights set on a number one seeding in the eastern 1A division from day one and they have been holding onto that top spot for months now. The top seed means home field advantage throughout the playoffs and anyone that attended Manteo’s playoff games last year knows what an advantage that can be.

In their previous encounter on the season, the Redskins routed the Aces by a score of 7-1. However, the Aces show no fear against the rolling Redskins and they are not scared to verbally express it. One thing is for certain about the visiting Edenton squad, they lace up their boots to play soccer against Manteo, not to park the bus, and that in itself, deserves respect.

The game kicked off with Manteo taking early control of the game, dominating the midfield play and looking for find space amidst Edenton’s backline. Just a few minutes in, Erik Hernandez sliced and diced his way through several defenders, making his way into the corner of the six-yard box. He drew the keeper out and placed the ball past him. The ball was bound for the net but it was cleared off the line by the Ace’s sweeper.

Manteo was 100% focused for the match and provided beautiful combination play throughout the midfield and final third, involving all layers of the formation.

Ten minutes into the match, Herandez would again attack the left side of their backline on the dribble, making his way again into the corner of the six-yard box. This time, however, he opted to play a simple ball across as he drew the keeper out. He found Joe Zafra patiently waiting inside the six-yard box. Zafra tapped it in for the Redskins first goal on the evening.

Shortly after taking the lead, Hernandez would double it by himself. A 50/50 ball at midfield was won and headed forward by Sam Diaz. Hernandez tracked it and took a beautiful collecting touch to the ground. The Ace’s holding midfielder looked to contain Hernandez atop the box. Hernandez danced the defender out to the right and then cut back into the left. When the defender did not bite on the move or close the space, Hernandez chose to wrap his left foot around the ball, bending it around the defender, around the keeper, and into the back of the net.

Edenton looked to find their skilled striker at midfield when given a spell of possession but the Redskins kept close track of him with rotating holding midfielders Diaz and Gonzalez-Martinez. Any touch the striker did make on the ball, he was quickly knocked off the ball by the Manteo backline. The backline was lead by center-back, Jose Velasco, who played a brilliant game making well-timed tackles, quality first touches, and several skillful turns out of trouble.

Manteo’s third goal on the evening was an outrageous combination of skill between right-back,  Yeifer Perez, and Hernandez. Perez made a deep run out of the midfield with the ball at his feet. While at pace, Perez made a step-over that left the first defender frozen atop the right corner of the 18-yard box. His move led him to the center of the box, drawing four defenders closing in around him. Just as the defenders closed, Perez made a no-look, lay-off, diagonal pass to Hernandez, back to the right side of the box.  Hernandez calmly collected the lay-off as the sweeper sprinted to close on the ball. Hernandez made a feint, sending the sweeper flying by, and then he calmly passed the ball by the keeper as he was left dead in his tracks on the goalline.

Hernandez, the forever playmaker, later would put in work on the right flank, turning the defender and playing a blistering line drive cross into the six-yard box. The sweeper opted to knock it down before it made its way to Manteo’s Andrew Hayman. Upon knocking it down near the goal line, the sweeper and keeper miscommunicated as to who was going to clear it off the line. Hayman took advantage of the miscommunication and knocked it in for Manteo’s fourth goal of the first half.

The rest of the half was the Ryan McOwen show. He opted to use his size and speed to dominate his defenders and put two in the back of the net.

Justin Ortega picked the pocket of an Aces midfielder, leaving it for Herandez.  Hernandez played a quick low diagonal ball for McOwen as he made an all-out run up the slot. The ball was placed through the two defenders and right in the stride of McOwen at full pace.  He took one touch and then finished low and hard in the far-post side netting.

Minutes later, McOwen received a pass from Perez that he would lose on the turn inward. However, he quickly pressed his own mistake and won the ball back. He took it straight to goal with a quick burst of speed, beating the last two defenders and surprising the keeper who came off the line a second too late. McOwen crushed it past the keeper just before they all collided and he flipped onto the pitch.

Manteo would enter the half up by a score of 6-0. The Aces were stunned and a bit demoralized.

The second half would roll on as the first did for the Redskins. Brayan Hernandez would play an early cross from the right flank to find Zafra waiting in the box. Zafra would finish it for his second goal on the evening.

Manteo’s eighth goal on the evening was another beauty. It came off a curling cross from McOwen that made its way to the far post. Noah Goetsch tracked it all the way as the backline had over-shifted, failing to pick up the left winger. Goetsch struck it one time with confidence on the volley and it sailed into the top of the net.

Not to be outdone by the others with two goals, Hernandez would finish the game off with a hat-trick. Irving Chavarria was fresh on the field and started the playoff by tracking back and helping William Pendleton win the ball back. Pendleton played Goetsch up the left flank and Chavarria made a run in support of the ball. The ball found its way back to Chavarria.  He collected it with confidence amidst several defenders and then found Hernandez inside the box. Hernandez knew exactly what to do with it from there and just like that the game ended with a 9-0 scoreline.

Manteo had 8 corner kicks, 22 total shots, and 13 shots on target.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We played some of our best soccer this evening through all layers of our formation and in all facets of the game. It starts with our focus. When we are focused as a team, we can beat anyone in the state. I feel we are peaking at the right time as the regular season is near the end and the playoffs are pending. We just need to keep focus for one game at a time.”


Camden Keeper Stands on His Head

On Monday, the 15th day of October, the Camden Bruins traveled to Manteo to face off for the third and final conference game of the season between the two rivals. Manteo had previously defeated Camden by scores of 3-0 and 4-0. Camden is a defensive minded team, focusing first on making it extremely difficult to score through the plethora of defenders at the back while allowing their talented striker to work solo up top.

On this evening, Manteo created great scoring opportunities early and often, yet the Camden keeper stood on his head throughout the entire game making the game a close one.

In the first minute of the game, Manteo was on the attack as Erik Hernandez made his way up the right slot, drawing defenders and the keeper over as he made his way deep into the box. Upon reaching the corner of the six-yard box, Hernandez cut the ball back on the ground looking for Joe Zafra, positioned nicely in the middle. The center-back on Zafra made a slight touch on the ball, deflecting it behind Zafra. Noah Goetsch was making a well-timed run in from the left flank and the ball fell nicely for him atop the six-yard box. Goetsch looked to place it in the near-post side netting, yet the keeper moved quickly from the opposite post into a baseball slide to make a brilliant kick-save off the line.

Just a minute later, Hernandez was back working the right slot. He found Zafra early in the final third and Zafra played a wall pass back to Hernandez to make his run through the backline. He received the ball back from Hernandez and fired a low, hard shot. The keeper got down to get a slight hand on it and the ball continued past him towards goal. The ball was deflected just enough to redirect it, clanking off the post and back out to be cleared by Camden.

Within the next two minutes of the game, the Redskins would again surely have a goal, but they were again stonewalled. Ryan McOwen made a scorching run down the right-wing into the corner of the box. He crushed a cross that found a direct line to the keeper on the near post. The ball had too much heat on it to catch, so the keeper knocked it down. The ball bounced nicely to Hernandez on the follow-up and he looked to place it in the corner. The made a terrific reactionary save, laying out quickly to again block the second attempt. The ball again bounced out to Goetsch but his follow up attempt was placed wide of the goal.

In the first five minutes of the game, it seemingly should have been 3-0, yet it stood at a nil-nil scoreline. Soccer is a beautiful game, yet it can most certainly be a cruel game as well.

Manteo continued to control the tempo of the game through their possession. Fifteen minutes into the game, Camden had yet to find an offensive opportunity against the Redskins. Manteo would finally capitalize on one.

Hernandez collected a  ball in the center midfield, turned and looked forward. He faced the entire backline with their holding midfielder pressing towards him as well. He dribbled at pace directly at the center-back, made a slight feint inside and then pushed the ball past and between the center and outside back. Hernandez kicked it into fifth gear to position himself on the ball as it entered the left side of the 18-yard box. He struck it well with his left foot and placed it nicely in the far-post side netting. For the Camden keeper, there was no saving this one.

Minutes later, Manteo looked to double the score when Goetsch received a well-played diagonal ball on the left wing from Hernandez and then played it back into the box to find a streaking Landon Taylor on a deep run out of the midfield. Taylor was under pressure upon receiving the ball. As he collected from the left, he spun 270 degrees back to the inside with the ball, shielding it from the defender, and fired a shot on goal. It was a brilliant turn but the shot was directed at the keeper and he instinctually made the save.

Camden would then get their one chance on goal, and boy was it a good look. A quick long ball out of the midfield seemed to surprise the Manteo center-backs. The Bruin’s center forward read it all the way, getting the jump on both Casey and Velasco. It played him in one on one with Manteo keeper, Jones Jr. The striker took a touch to the outside as he entered the box due to the presence of Casey on his left. On the final touch before the shot, Jones Jr. sprinted off his line, made himself big, and lept at the ball. Upon the shot, Jones Jr. deflected it out with his leg, keeping the score going into halftime at 1-0.

Manteo made a few changes at halftime, looking to utilize more width. Right from the start, Manteo earned more great scoring opportunities.

Early in the second half, Hernandez received a square ball across the top of the box. With his back to the goal, he faked a pass out to the overlapping Perez, and then pulled it back in, while turning to face the goal. He quickly launched a cannon of a shot in between two Bruin defenders that knuckled its way towards the goal. The keeper was a bit lost on the shot and missed it as the ball passed him but detonated upon the crossbar, up and out of bounds.

Taylor and Hernandez would again create brilliant build-up play amongst themselves, working the ball down into the corner of the box for Taylor to fire off a close shot that the keeper would knock down. Hernandez was again there for the follow up with the keeper struggling to recover but his shot was placed just wide of the far post.

Manteo would finally get their second goal off a corner kick in which Hernandez played a nice ball into Zafra. Zafra crashed hard on and just put his body on the ball, knocking it into the back of the net.

Ten minutes after the going up 2-0, Manteo would relinquish their clean sheet with poor defending at the back. A long ball sent down by the Bruins was tracked down in the corner by their winger. He blindly kicked into the middle of the box. The ball in split the legs of Casey (the on-ball defender), and squirted just by the cleats of Martinez-Gonzalez and Perez. The Bruin striker made a well-timed run, made one collecting touch, and then taped it into the far-post side netting. The Bruins were ecstatic to score their first goal of the season on the Redskins and to be in a 2-1 game all the sudden.

Manteo continued to control possession amidst a more lively Bruin squad but their finishing touch was not there. Hernandez would create space for himself atop the box in a sea of bodies, and launch a curling shot that sent the Camden keeper sprawling on the save. He knocked it down and McOwen sprinted in to clean it up. McOwen struck it low and hard towards the far post, yet the keeper made yet another kick-save of which he may have known little about.

Manteo continued to pepper the keeper through the remaining minutes of the game but to no avail. The keeper continued to stand tall.

The Manteo defense tightened up defensively, lead by Jose Velasco.

The game would end in a 2-1 result in favor of Manteo. With the win, your Redskins mathematically clinched another conference title.

On the game, Manteo had 7 corner kicks, 20 total shots with 10 of them on target. Trent Jones Jr. had 3 saves against the Bruins.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “Overall we played well but there are several little things we need to tighten up on. We need to heighten our mental focus overall, make smarter decisions at the back and anticipate more. Up top, we need to find out finishing touch to put games out of reach early. With that being said, it was great that we tested for the first time in a long while. We needed that wake-up call. It will serve us well going forward.”

Lack of Focus Makes Scoreline More Interesting

On Wednesday, October the 10th, your Manteo Redskins made the long haul back up to Gate County for the second time this season. It would be the third and final conference game between the Redskins and the Barrons. Gates has been holding strong in conference play as Edenton, Camden and  Gates have all taken turns beating up on each other.

The busload to Gatesville was a little lighter than normal as two Manteo starting seniors, Bryson Casey and Erik Hernandez, were at home sick.

As the game kicked off, it resembled that of typical conference play. Manteo looked to control and play possession-based soccer throughout the midfield, and the opponent looked to throw bodies at the ball and clear it up to their attackers. While Manteo did control the overall possession, it was ugly in a sense. There were a lot of poor first touches, poor passes, poor off the ball movement and an overall lack of focus and aggression.

Despite the lack of quality play, Manteo did get off to an early start as Joe Zafra peeled off a run down the right slot, and laid it off to Taylor on the central run. Taylor fancied a shot but drew two defenders in front of him and one of them deflected his shot. It ricocheted across the box to Carter Calvio. Calvio popped the ball up and over the challenging defender and then hit a text-book half-volley with his left foot. The shot was low and hard and was enough to beat the keeper. Manteo found themselves up 1-0 just five minutes into the game but their lack of focus would come back to haunt them.

Five minutes after taking the lead, that lead would be relinquished by the Red Barrons striker. Perez turned the ball over in the midfield off a lazy pass, which was quickly launched up to the Barrons center forward. He collected the ball within the containment of Diaz and then made his move to the left around Diaz. Velasquez chased in support but paused as it appeared Diaz was going to be able to win the ball back. He did not and the striker was able to get a shot off. Velasquez attempted to cut off the shot at the last second but instead of blocking it, the ball took a slight deflection off his leg. The deflection was just enough redirection on the shot to leave Manteo’s keeper, Jones Jr., frozen as the ball found the back of the net.

Just like that, it was 1-1 and Manteo found their opponent fired up.

Ten minutes after the equalizer, Manteo found their second goal off a corner kick. The ball was played in nicely and headed down by Hayman. The ball bounced around the six-yard box in traffic, finding its way to Goetsch. Goetsch dropped the ball back out of the traffic to Calvio atop the box. Calvio hit it one time. It was placed low and in the side netting.

Calvio was filling in nicely in the midfield for the absentee Hernandez, but his match would end five minutes after his second goal. He was taken down on a hard challenge and unable to continue the match. Calvio’s injury was just minutes after Manteo’s holding midfielder, Brandon Gonzalez-Martinez, was taken down as well.

Manteo now found themselves missing four quality players on the evening. Substitutes were in short supply as Manteo 18 man roster was now down to just 14.

With the shortened roster and adjusted positions, the Redskins struggled a bit to properly run their formation as they normally do. The chemistry was off just enough to create a disconnect in the transition from the midfield into the final offensive third.

Manteo would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead after missing several great opportunities, including a one verse one against the goalie.

Missed opportunities were the story of the second half for the Redskins. There were seemingly three or four moments when a goal seemed inevitable, yet the opportunities we squandered.

Manteo would, however, capitalize on yet another corner kick. The ball was played in and knocked down by a Gates defender. Diaz was there to clean it up on the half-volley, striking it just under the cross-bar for Manteo’s third goal.

Diaz would later step up out of the center-back position to intercept a ball and make a  vertical run from the midfield into the final third. As he drew a defender, Diaz laid it off to Taylor making a parallel run. Taylor received the ball and touched it into the box amidst several defenders. A defender flew in from behind and slid tackled Taylor, missing the ball and taking him down in the box. The assistant referee immediately put his flag up yet the center referee told him to put his flag down and play on.

Taylor would get his goal minutes later after receiving a wonderfully weighted and accurate pass out of the midfield from Brayan Hernandez. Taylor’s first touch placed the ball beyond the last defender and into the box. He then calmly finished with a low shot past the keeper.

With the score now 4-1, the Redskins were a bit more comfortable but continued to squander dead-on scoring opportunities.

With three minutes remaining in the game, the Barrons sent a ball into the far left side of the 18-yard box. Perez and the Red Barron’s striker both went hard for the ball. Perez made a text-book shoulder to shoulder challenge and both bodies went to ground on the challenge. The referee blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. It was an interesting decision given the previous penalty waved off earlier in the game. The Gates striker buried the penalty kick and the game would end in a 4-2 victory for the Redskins.

Manteo had 13 corner kicks,  24 total shots and 12 shots on target.  Three of the four goals were assisted. Trent Jones Jr. had twelve saves on the evening.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “In a game like this when we are without some of our top players, we needed others to step up and take over. It did not happen as I hoped for. Pendleton was the only player who was focused and played hard for 80 total minutes. We had our moments of solid play, but the lack of focus kept us from dominating the game in the manner that we should of. We will refocus our collective efforts for a big three-game week next week.”

Flood Of Goals Sinks The Pirates

Trying to get ahead of the storm, Manteo moved their game with Perquimans from Thursday to Tuesday, the 9th of October. In their previous encounter in the town of Hertford, Manteo ended the game in the middle of the second half by racking up their ninth goal while holding Perquimans scoreless.

Manteo seemed to not expect much of a fight as they came out playing slowly and simply going through the motions. They dominated possession on their offensive side of the pitch, but the focus in the final third was not there and lacked creativity and aggressiveness.

Fifteen minutes into the first half, Manteo seemed to get on the scoreboard off a beautiful one-two combo pass, but Hernandez was offside prior to the finish.

Five minutes later, Hernandez would make it count as Noah Goetsch sent a corner kick across the box. Hernandez collected it near the top of the box, just outside the far post. His first touch was top notch to settle it nicely, take a second touch around the pressing defender, and then riffled it past the keeper.

Minutes later, the Redskins would keep the scoring momentum going as the deadly Hernandez-Taylor midfield combination would strike again as they have some many times this year. Hernandez found Taylor back peddling the Perquimans center-back to the top of the box. Taylor collected with his back to goal, turned to face, cut inside to his left, pulled it back to the right, and then once more back inside to his left. He struck it well with his left foot as the shot split two defenders and found the back of the net.

Manteo would huddle up after that goal to discuss their lack of intensity and focus. From then on, the goals poured in.

The Redskins racked up six more goals in the final ten minutes of the first half to make it 8-0 at halftime.

Zafra raced down the left flank, torching several defenders before turning the corner to goal and placing it calmly past the keeper. Carter Calvio scored off a  beautiful half-volley from a corner kick. Hernandez scored his second by making a deep run out of the midfield in which he was played through the line by Taylor and finished nicely on the near post. Hernandez then set up Zafra off a wall pass, playing Zafra behind the line for another easy finish. Calvio scored his second goal of the evening by tracking and crashing hard on a cross from Hayman. Calvio headed it into the back of the net. Hayman finished off the half as the clock ran under ten seconds by roofing one over the keeper’s outstretched hand to make it 8-0.

To start the second half, the Redskins line up looked quite different. They lined up with all of their younger players, several of which came up from the JV team. Pearce Gregory and Irving Chavarria filled in on the backline. Steven Ortega took over the keeper position for the Redskins while his brother, Justin, took the holding midfield spot. Richard Hernandez took the left wing spot with Brayan Hernandez on the right and Bryson Casey took the center forward position in hopes of getting a birthday goal.

The new line up continued to dominate the game and control the ball about the midfield while winning several attempts on goal.  Casey had two good looks on goal, but the keeper would not be so kind as to give him a birthday present. Casey would, however, end the game early with his assist to Justin Ortega. Brayan Hernandez played a low ball in from the right wing. Casey tracked it into the box and bodied the ball down to an overlapping Ortega. Ortega quickly one-touched it into the back of the net. The game would end with thirty minutes left on the clock as the score was now 9-0.

In 50 minutes of play, the Redskins had 6 corner kicks, 19 total shots of which 10 were on target. Seven of the nine goals were assisted.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We need to really up our mental focus and get off the mark much quicker. These slow starts will not suit us well in the future. We have lofty goals to accomplish and we need to be focused every single minute we are on the pitch be it practice or a game.”

Redskins Dial Up The Corner Kicks

On Wednesday, October 3rd, your Manteo Redskins traveled to Edenton to take on the Aces in their first matchup of the season. Their previously scheduled game was postponed to a later date due to Hurrican Florence, therefore, Manteo will host the Aces in back to back games. Edenton proved to be Manteo’s most challenging conference opponent last year, as they only lost the three games to the Redskins in conference play.

Manteo knew that going into the game, Edenton has a fast, skilled striker up top, and they are not afraid to push up and go for it offensively. The plan was to body up on the striker, keep him in check, and force someone else to make a play for the Aces. Knowing their propensity to push numbers forward, Manteo felt confident in their ability to put but a handful of balls into the back of the Aces net. It would come down to execution.

Upon kickoff, Manteo controlled the midfield possession and earned two early corners. The corners failed to produce any real dangerous attempt on goal, even though the Redskins would win both balls in the air. Manteo would look to capitalize on the Aces hesitation to attack balls in the air later in the game.

When Edenton did win a bit of the ball, they quickly looked to finder their striker, number 17. Edenton would win the first great opportunity on goal seven minutes into the game as they played a long ball out of the midfield, over the Manteo backline. Manteo’s center-back, Jose Velasco, would run it down with ease while the Ace’s number 17 pressured hard from behind. Velasco turned it out wide to the corner of the 18-yard box but the Ace’s striker would turn him over upon that point. The striker drove the end line and pass it across to the top of the six-yard box to find his supporting attacker. The ball was struck first time and on target, but Trent Jones Jr. made a brilliant adjustment on the line and ate it up comfortably.

The Manteo backline was reminded by the coaching staff to keep tabs on number 17 and to body up, never allowing freedom to run into space at pace.

From there, Manteo settled in nicely and began to take over the game. The Manteo midfield trio of Hernandez, Taylor, and Diaz began to create wonderful opportunities for the Redskins. It was Hernandez that would get the away side on the scoreboard about twenty minutes into the game.

Hernadez received the ball in the center midfield and played Joe Zafra as he held the center forward position. Zafra held it for a second and played Hernandez back as he continued his vertical run up the pitch. Hernandez had his man-mark following closely as he received the ball. He turned him to the inside, then spun back around to the outside, shielding his man-mark from the ball as he entered the 18-yard box. Just before the second defender crashed that ball, Hernandez released his shot for the far post. It was placed low, passing the keeper, clanking the inside of the far-post and spun into the goal.

With 15 minutes left on the first half clock, Sam Diaz stepped hard on a challenge right at the midfield line. Diaz won the ball under control and made a vertical run forward into space. As he was chased towards the top of the box, he drew the attention of the Ace’s center-back, pulling him over to stop Diaz’s run. Andrew Hayman was in the center forward position for Manteo and he peeled off the center-back into space. Diaz picked his head up, found Hayman across the box and Hayman hit it one time. The ball stung the net just under the crossbar.

Just five minutes later, Hernandez threw the ball along the left midfield. He targeted Taylor, but the defender knocked it away before Taylor could fully collect it. The ball was played back out and Hernandez tracked it off the sideline. Once he collected it with forward momentum, he had his sights set on goal yet there were two defenders in his way outside of the box. Hernandez slipped out to the left with the ball and then cut sharply back in on his right foot, creating space. Hernandez sent a curling shot around the keeper that left him pointing fingers at defenders and the Redskins jogging back to the midline with a 3-0 half-time lead.

During half-time, Manteo digressed upon the first half and felt they could play much better.

In the second half, with a comfortable lead, the Redskins came out and continued to dominate the run of play. The Aces struggled to get their top striker involved in the run of play.

A ground level fog set in during the second half as the early humidity of the day gave way to cooler temperatures.

Zafra found his focus and energy up top for Manteo and made numerous brilliant diagonal runs and crossing routes with overlapping midfielders. He would be rewarded for his efforts off a corner kick from Taylor. Zafra tracked it well and found himself in a lot of space within the back of the six-yard box. He headed the ball back in the direction from which it came, into the back of the net.

Manteo would again score off another corner kick ten minutes later when Hernandez played a ball in that found Yeifer Perez up for the corner. Perez tracked in in the traffic, dipped his head to make contact, and looped it into the far-post side netting.

As Manteo continued to pepper the goal, the Aces would make a keeper change while down 5-0. The new keeper came in and made two great saves right off the bat, both of which were off Hernandez. On a powerful header from Hernandez, the keeper got the slightest of touches to deflect it on to a fellow defender. On another strike on goal from Hernandez, the keeper gave a solid punch, deflecting it just wide of the post.

Manteo would make the score 6-0 off yet another corner. This time the ball was played short to Calvio, and then back to Hernandez. Hernandez turned the corner on one defender and unleashed a low, hard shot that found its way through a sea of bodies and past the keeper.

The Aces would not go down without a fight. They were awarded a free kick after a Manteo foul just on their side of midfield. Edenton’s number 17 stood over the ball, 40 yards from goal. The striker only had eyes for goal and fancied a strike. He struck it well on the laces and sent it knuckling through the air at a blistering pace. The strike took Jones Jr. by surprise and raced just passed his outstretched hand into the back of the net for Edenton’s first and only goal of the evening.

Unshaken by the opposing goal, Manteo retaliated minutes later when Taylor would collect a  deflected shot amidst several defenders in the box, and took a quick strike. He kept it low and on target and the keeper could only turn in surprise to watch Manteo’s seventh goal of the game.

The game would end with 7-1 victory in favor of your Manteo Redskins.

On the game, Manteo racked up 12 corner kicks, 23 total shots, and 14 shots on target. All seven of the goals were assisted.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We are really starting to increase our offensive efficiency as we place more and more shots on target and more in the back of the net. Our backline did well tonight to stifle their top striker.  Hayman and Goetsch stepped up and played very well tonight and after I challenged Zafra at halftime, he had a brilliant second half. We will continue to push ourselves and look for ways to improve.”



Late Start, Early Finish

On the first day of October, your Manteo Redskins traveled to the town of Hertford to take on the Perquimans Pirates. The fixture would place together two polar opposites on the season as Perquimans has yet to win a game and Manteo has been rolling. Regardless of their record, the Pirates came out with something to prove and played hard from beginning to end, showing no signs of quitting.

Within the first minute of the game, the Redskins settled into their formational shape and controlled possession on their attacking side of the field. Perquimans’ field is exceptionally wide as compared to most high school fields and Manteo looked to exploit the width, creating overloads on the wings. The plan was to get in behind the backline out wide, cut in, and play balls into the box. The strategy was effective and resulted in numerous goals and 14 corner kicks for Manteo.

Five minutes into the first half, Manteo found themselves on the scoreboard as Erik Hernandez received a ball atop the 18-yard box, and played a clever chip over a defender to the striker, Joe Zafra. The ball sat nicely in the box as Zafra ran on to it and the goalie held tight to his line. Zafra calmly played the ball past the keeper for the first goal of the evening.

Trent Jones Jr only real action between the sticks came when Perquimans attempted a long ball over the Manteo backline. Jones Jr was playing atop his box, came out of the box and played the ball with his feet wide to Manteo’s left-back, William Pendleton.

Hernandez would double the lead minutes later after Noah Goetsch blocked a clearance from a Pirate defender. It fell on the outside left of the 18-yard box. Hernandez collected, danced around three defenders on his way to the center of the box and then finished it in the bottom left corner of the goal as the keeper’s diving attempt fell just short.

Manteo’s third goal on the evening was worth the price of admission alone. Pendleton pushed up in support of an attack and won a poor clearance from the defense. Under pressure from an opposing player, Pendleton laid the ball off to Sam Diaz. Diaz let the ball roll in front of himself into space. He looked up and found his target. On his first touch, Diaz unleashed a clinical strike from 30 yards out that sent the ball knuckling through the air with a hard dip on the final eight yards. The ball blistered the netting in the right-upper ninety corner and the keeper stood in disbelief.

Inspired by Diaz’s strike, midfielder, Landon Taylor, figured he would get in on the scoring action. Taylor received a well-played ball into the box from Hernandez. Taylor made a collecting turn, and let one rip. It was a straight line bullet bound for the top shelf. Again, the keeper was frozen in disbelief.

Up 4-0 in the first half, Manteo was not finished. Hernandez continued to create opportunities for others, and Noah Goetsch was happy to be on the receiving end of one of his many assists. Hernandez drove the ball down the left wing, weaving past two defenders, looked up and found Goetsch making a well-timed run across the top of the box. Hernandez passed the ball across the box and Goetsch calmly one touched the ball into the back of the net. It was beautiful, simple soccer.

The Redskins went into halftime up 5-0. They focused on exploiting the width and playing 2-3 touch passing soccer.

The starting line-up was given ten minutes to start the half. They pinged the ball about the pitch and maximized their time with two quick goals off corner kicks. Both corners were sent in by Hernandez and finished off by Taylor.

A large number of substitutions were made but Manteo continued to dominate the run of play. They continued to pepper the goal with shots but were unlucky in several attempts. Brayan Hernandez was in the attacking midfield position to replace Erik Hernandez and did a good job of creating in the final third. He also took it upon himself to score the final two goals to make it a 9-0 mercy rule victory. The Redskins would leave the field a bit early with another win, and another clean sheet.

Manteo racked up 9 goals off 6 assists,  and 32 total shots with 15 shots on target.

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was solid team victory in which everyone got a chance to contribute. Our subs came in and played well, creating nice combination play and great opportunities in the final third. We need to continue to work on executing game specific tactics to our various opponents. It’s all a process and I feel we are at a good point in that process for this point in the season.”