On the warm spring evening of March 11th, your Lady Redskins traveled up to Gatesville to take on the Lady Red Barons in the Albemarle Athletic Conference opening game. The game would mark the first time the teams have faced off as this is Gates County’s inaugural season of girl’s soccer.
Manteo took immediate control of the game upon kick-off as the Red Barrons sat back in a heavily defensive shape. At all times, the home side had at least eight players behind the ball. At other times, they had all ten behind the ball, opting to negate scoring chances rather than to create them. The defensive tactic, coupled with the narrow and short field made for limited space for Manteo to attack. Wingers were tasked with holding width on the sideline but Manteo’s normal prime distributor in the middle, Libby Robertson, was on the sideline for much of the first half with a jewelry malfunction. These factors all contributed a sloppy first ten minutes of play. Manteo’s sluggish pace did not help either.
Ragen Twiford and Amy Rios-Tovar stepped up in the twelfth minute to get the Redskins going in the right direction. Twiford brought down a punt in the midfield and beat her defender along the right flank before playing a low cross into the middle of the box. The cross just missed Willa Brown, the initial target in the middle, but Rios-Tovar made a late run in off the far post. Rios-Tovar struck the ball first time with her right foot and then watched it curl into the near post side netting.
Manteo’s second goal began again with the Twiford bringing the ball down out of the air from a punt. Twiford chested the ball down to collect at her feet and then quickly played Brown, who was pressing the length on the backline. Brown played a simple diagonal ball backward to Keylin Zavala on the forward run. Zavala executed a beautiful 1-2 combination with Brown as Brown had immediately turned to make her run through the line. The ball played Brown in behind the line and she found herself all alone in the 18-yard box. Brown kept it simple again with a low shot just out of the keeper’s reach that found the back of the net putting Manteo up by a score of 2-0.
Brown became a pressing machine up top, realizing that Gates was having a lot of trouble getting the ball out of their defensive third. Brown earned her second goal by intercepting a short goal-kick and quickly firing it into the back of the net before the goalkeeper could get back into a decent position.
Twiford found the back of the net after cleaning up a ball that squirted through the backline between two defenders.
Robertson entered the game with fifteen minutes remaining in the half and made an immediate impact. The Lady Redskins got back to combination play and it was evident in the beautiful build-up of their fifth goal.
Goalkeeper, Courtney Daniels, made a long throw out to Twiford on the left-wing. Twiford turned the ball forward and then played Zavala down the line as she made a diagonal run out of the supporting striker position. Zavala drew two defenders immediately and then squared the ball back into the middle as the center defensive midfielder, Ayanna Selby, was filling into the attacking space. Selby received the ball and played a diagonal ball to Brown up top. Brown made a one-touch diagonal pass into the 18-yard box for Robertson to run onto. Roberston beat two defenders to the ball, cut it back inside the six-yard box and then chipped the keeper and dropped the ball into the back of the net along the back-post.
Entering the half with a 5-0 lead, Manteo did not feel great about their overall play. While they had their moments of quality play, the overall intensity and effort were lacking.
The second half overall was much better in terms of effort. The ball moved with more of a purpose and the Lady Redskins earned a plethora of shots in the half, but many were off target.
Zavala’s one shot on target in the second half was one from 30 yards out. It was a high and lofty strike that sailed on the keeper and over her outstretched fingertips before dropping in the back of the net.
Daniels was moved out of her normal goalkeeping position to play striker. Daniels found the back of the net twice with thunderous strikes that stung the back of the net.
Daniels was relieved by Emma Ortega in goal. Ortega made two quality saves in the second half to keep the clean sheet for the Lady Redskins.
The game would end as a 8-0 victory for Manteo.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “It’s nice to start conference play with a win, but if we want to be undefeated conference champs again, we will need to start playing much harder and better than that. We need to play at our maximum level each and every night, no matter who we play. We need to train at our maximum level each and every practice in order to reach the next level we wish to be at. The season is still young, but I’m eager to see us at our best as I have not seen it yet.”
|1||Emilia Vasquez (Fr)||1||1|
|4||Amy Rios (Fr)||1||2|
|9||Willa Brown (Sr)||2||4|
|13||Ragen Twiford (Jr)||1||1||3|
|15||Courtney Daniels (Sr)||2||4|
|18||Keylin Zavala (So)||1||2||4|
|21||Libby Robertson (Sr)||1||2|
Due to COVID-19, all practice and games are suspended until April 6th. Scheduling changes will be made when we are closer to that date and have more information.