On Monday, March 9th, your Lady Redskins hosted the Lady Nighthawks. Facing off against the perennial powerhouse is a challenge for any team and Manteo was eager to be put to the test. After a poor showing against the Nighthawks last year in terms of effort, Manteo needed to prove their competitiveness by making the game a challenge for the Nighthawks as opposed to a walk in the park.
In an effort to slow the lethal attack of the Nighthawks, Manteo altered their normal formation to resemble more of a 5-2-1-2. They used wingbacks tucked in to help defend the width with the backline while asking them to make long, wide runs down the flank in the attack. The forwards up top were asked to rotate and occupy either the midfield width or the center while pressing anything played along First Flight’s backline in the midfield.
In the first half, Manteo did well to defend the Nighthawks and slow their attack as best they could. First Flight certainly dominated possession and earned a plethora of chances but Manteo goal-keeper, Courtney Daniels, stood tall, earning a number of saves. Daniels’ saves coupled with off-target shots from the Nighthawks kept the first half scoreline respectable.
When the Nighthawks attack was thwarted by too many bodies behind the ball, they were patient in their attack and dropped the ball all the way back in their defensive third. Manteo would then push their formation out and look to press the backline, hoping to capitalize on a mistake. There were times Manteo was able to put enough pressure on them to earn a look in the attacking third, but never earned a real dangerous look at goal. Other times, First Flight’s plan to draw Manteo’s formation up the pitch and open space in their attacking third worked to their advantage, leading to a couple of goals.
Upon the halftime whistle, Manteo was down by a score of 4-0. Manteo discussed their tactics at halftime and would look to do a better job of picking up late runners into the box to take away the cut-back ball off the end line.
The Nighthawks were a bit more motivated to find the back of the net in the second half and Manteo came out flat. This combination led to a quick five goals in fifteen minutes for the Nighthawks and the game ended in a 9-0 mercy ruling.
Willa Brown was named the player of the match for her relentless pressure and effort up top.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “Right now, they are a class above us. They play the game the right way and execute things beautifully on the pitch. That all comes from a culture of year-round play and practice. That is something we are trying to instill here at Manteo. In the first half, I thought we did well to slow them down and I was pleased with our first-half performance. I was disappointed in our second-half performance as we played with no conviction. Our challenges were half-hearted and our effort was poor in the second half. Our focus is now on to conference play.”