The Lady Redskins wrapped up regular season play last Wednesday, May 1st against the Pasquotank Panthers. The previous fixture with Pasquotank was a hard fought 1-0 victory for the Redskins on the road. The game would be a good final test in preparation for playoffs and a final send-off for the seniors of the 2019 graduating class.
It had been several weeks (including spring break) and games since Manteo played against equal competition, whether for better or worse. With Pasquotank being a comparable team, Manteo would need to refocus to secure the victory. The Lady Redskins got off to a slow start as they struggled to find their focus and maximum effort.
Ten minutes into the first half, Manteo conceded a goal due to their lack of focus and discipline in their formational shape. Right back, Maria Hernandez, did well to win an initial challenge as the left winger attacked the flank. Hernandez sent the ball back out but it was quickly won by a Panther midfielder. The Manteo backline found themselves shifted out of position as the Panther striker sat alone atop the box. The midfielder quickly found the isolated striker, upon which she turned and fired a shot past the Manteo keeper, catching her off the line.
Despite going down by a score of 1-0 early on, the conceded goal was just what Manteo needed in order to refocus and begin to play at maximum effort. Manteo realized they would need to step it up to win their final regular season fixture, and they did just that by scoring two minutes after conceding the goal.
The play began with the center defensive midfielder, Ayanna Selby, winning the ball along the left midfield and finding striker, Keylin Zavala. Zavala seemed determined to make a play as soon as she was on the ball. She juked her first defender and then bullied her way down the left wing against a sturdy defender as they went shoulder to shoulder into the 18-yard box. Zavala was taken down but play continued. The defender turned to clear the ball but was met by a pressing Camryn Creef. The two collided as the ball squirted across the top of the six-yard box. Willa Brown battled three defenders for the ball, knocking it back towards Creef. Creef struck it one time quickly into the back of the net to equalize the game at 1-1.
Not long after equalizing, Manteo would look to exploit the high line of the Panther defense and utilize the speed of Creef up top. Gaby Leon began the possession with a strong challenge to win the ball and find a center midfielder, Libby Roberston. Roberston moved the ball laterally into space before playing ahead to Zavala in the center circle of midfield. Zavala again made a move to elude the first defender, picked her head up eyeing the space behind the high line, and played a well-weighted pass through the line for Creef to run on to. Creef burst through the line with ease, took three dribbles into the box and slide the ball calmly past the sliding keeper.
Manteo began to take greater control of the game with the offensive surge from Creef and the Manteo defense settled in nicely, finding more discipline within their shape.
Manteo would again take advantage of the Panther high line to capture their third goal in the first half. Roberston did well to intercept an errant pass in the backside of the midfield. She took a touch forward and picked her head up to determine her options. She saw Creef pressing the center backs at the midfield line and opted to chip the line and play Creef into space. It was a well-weight ball over the top of the line that played Creef in perfectly. Creef again took a few dribbles on her way into the box at pace. The keeper rushed out, sliding feet first in an attempt to save the ball. The slide was futile as Creef had already struck the ball past the keeper into the back of the net but the keeper’s slide led her cleats right into the top of Creef’s ankle. With a black and blue ankle, Creef would sit for the remainder of the half.
The half would end with Manteo in control by a score of 3-1.
During the half time, Manteo honored their three seniors: Camryn Creef, Maria Hernandez and Gaby Leon.
The first ten minutes of the second half was back and forth in regards to attacking opportunities for both sides. Pasquotank was desperate to get an early second-half goal to crawl back into the game and Manteo was eager to put the game away with a fourth goal.
Emma Ortega and Willa Brown did the bulk of the attacking early in the second half, often set up by the work of Zavala and Robertson. On the defensive side, Ragen Twiford and Maria Hernandez worked hard to shut down the skilled wingers for Pasquotank with Eva Klauser cleaning up any balls that squirted through.
With a swollen ankle and still in pain, Creef wanted to make the most of senior night. A hat-trick in the first half just wasn’t good enough for her. She made her way back onto the field midway through the second half and made an immediate impact on the game with her fourth goal.
The Pasquotank center back tried to clear a difficult ball sent to her at the midfield line. She sent it high in the air and it fell to Ortega not far off the midway line. Ortega made a great first touch to bring the ball down to the ground and picked her head up to see Creef making her run towards the backline. Ortega sent the ball through the high line and Creef was off to the races again. Creef took one dribble into the box and fired a shot from the penalty marker. The ball struck the inside of the right post and deflected beyond the goal line for her fourth goal of the game.
With less than two minutes to play, Ortega found herself on a breakaway up the middle. With a defender chasing behind her and the keeper rushing out to the top of the box, Ortega pushed the ball around the keeper and looked to run on to it to tap it in. As she did this, the keeper turned and obstructed her pathway to the ball without playing the ball herself. The referee signaled for an indirect kick inside the box. Ortega took the first touch on the ball and Zavala followed with a crushing shot on target. However, the keeper made a great diving save and the game would end with a 4-1 scoreline.
Creef: 4 goals
Roberston: 1 assist
Zavala: 1 assist
Ortega: 1 assist
After the game, Coach Cleaver stated, “I’m proud of our girls for the way they responded to going down early in the game. In fact, I think we needed that wake-up call at that moment. After that, we became focused and started playing our brand of soccer again. When we are focused and determined to play hard and win, we are an extremely good team. I look forward to making some noise in the playoffs and seeing how many charter schools we can knock out.”