On Wednesday, April 3rd, Manteo traveled into the small town of Camden to take on the Lady Bruins. Their previous matchup was a thriller that was won by Manteo with only two minutes remaining on the game clock. When these two conference rivals face off, the games never fail to live up to the hype. This fixture continued in this traditional sense as it was a hard fought, physical game that kept fans on the edge of their seats.
As the game kicked off, Manteo settled in on the ball quickly and began to control the tempo of the game, keeping Camden pushed back defending their own half. Camden’s back three sat deep in the defensive third as their five midfielders and supporting striker also sat back in a defensive shape. They left a lone striker holding length along Manteo’s back three defenders.
As expected, it would be a matchup of contrary styles. Manteo looked to keep their formation tight and move the ball on the ground with short, simple passes. Camden opted to sit deep defensively and send long balls to their lone striker any chance they could.
Manteo saw early looks on goal through their combination play along the right midfield and into the attacking third. Camden’s only real attacking attempt came ten minutes into the game when a Bruin midfielder sent their striker into space behind the line with a long ball. Eva Klauser found herself a step behind the striker but quickly made up the difference and temporarily muscled her off the ball but was unable to keep it on her foot on the turn. The striker made a second attempt towards goal, now in the 18-yard box, but Maria Sanchez was there to take it away and dribble the ball out of harm’s way.
Midway through the first half, Manteo earned a series of corner kicks. On the second corner, Creef and Roberston stood in the corner for the kick. Roberston lofted a ball into the box. The keeper knocked it out of the air amid a sea of bodies that swarmed, positioned and kicked at the ball. The ball bounced around and then squirted out away from the goal but it did not get far as Creef came rushing into the box to collect it. At this time, Brown was pushed from behind by a Bruin defender and knocked to the ground. The referee sounded the whistle, pointing at the penalty marker.
Keylin Zavala was called upon to take the penalty kick. She stood over the ball with confidence and took her approach at the sound of the whistle. She struck it hard and high right up the middle. The keeper flinched as the ball sailed just above her head. The goalie got both hands on the ball but it still managed to push through her hands and into the back of the net. Manteo took an important early 1-0 lead.
Shortly after her first goal, Zavala almost doubled the lead after another series of corner kicks for Manteo. The original ball from the corner was deflected back out wide but Creef ran it down and sent a low ball back atop the box to Zavala. As Zavala showed for the pass, a defender rushed out to it as well. Zavala pulled the ball back behind her plant foot and turned it back inside. With little time and space among a crowded box, Zavala struck it with her left foot, low and towards the bottom right corner of the goal. It was bound for the back of the net but the keeper made a fully extended diving save to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Both sides felt confident going into half as Manteo controlled the game and had a lead, while Camden felt their patience in the counter-attacking long-ball game would pay off in the end.
To start the second half, Manteo continued to dominate possession even as the game became incredibly physical. Both sides would earn a yellow card and numerous fouls throughout the game.
The Manteo side held their breath on a Camden corner kick that led to chaos in the box. The ball dropped into the six-yard box off the corner kick, and bodies commenced all around the ball. Both sides frantically kicked at the ball for what seemed like an eternity, though it lasted no more than several seconds. The Manteo defense was determined to keep the ball out of the net and in the end, Courtney Daniels came up with the ball somehow. Smiling faces emerged from the Manteo side and everyone drew a deep breath of relief.
Midway through the second half, Manteo took complete control of the game with their second goal. The goal was a beautiful team goal that was devised through all layers of the formation. Selby broke up possession along the right midfield, allowing Roberston to take control of the ball and square it over to center defensive midfielder, Gaby Leon. Leon kept the flow of the movement and found Brisa Torres out wide on the left wing. Torres beat her defender and turned the ball in going forward. She played Zavala on a short diagonal and Zavala one touched it on up to Creef. Creef looked to play Brown through as she made her run down the right flank. The ball deflected off a defender and found Brown in the end as she ran on to the ball, and struck it one time. She hit it perfectly back across the goal and into the far left side netting. Manteo celebrated the 2-0 lead, knowing they could hold strong for the rest of the game with the lead.
In the remaining twenty minutes, Manteo continued to control the game and Camden only saw two more counter-attacking opportunities that did not resonate into formidable threats. Manteo’s passing game became stronger as the game went on. They formed beautiful combinations that worked the ball down the field with short one and two touch passing. Manteo’s style of possession play has been improving throughout the year and is now allowing them to control the game against solid opponents.
The final whistle blew with Manteo winning by the score of 2-0. This moves Manteo to 5-0 in conference play with one conference game remaining against Edenton. Edenton sits in second place behind Manteo and the Lady Redskins will look to finish strong against the Aces next Wednesday night in Manteo.
Zavala: 1 goal
Brown: 1 goal
Creef: 1 assist
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was a huge win for us to really take control of the conference table. We have set ourselves up nicely with this win. Our girls played with heart and passion tonight and kept their composure at difficult times. I am proud of them for that. Our passing tonight was unbelievable. There were several combinations that were simply beautiful. We are getting better and better as a team.”