On the warm yet blustery afternoon of March 30th, your Manteo Lady Redskins hosted the Camden Bruins for their second conference fixture of the season. The Manteo and Camden rivalry dates back decades, and is always a hotly contested game. Both teams have gotten off to a slower than normal start this season, as both teams faced off against non-conference opponents, First Flight and Currituck. Camden was looking for their first win of the season after also dropping their first conference game to Edenton. Manteo was eager to began stringing wins together through their conference run.
The game kicked-off at a slow pace. The early minutes saw the ball finding its way beyond the sidelines often, helping to slow things down. In the fourth minute of play, Cici Lowe’s display of individual brilliance got the ball rolling for the Lady Redskins.
Lowe dispossessed the Bruin’s central defensive midfielder on the outside of the 18-yard box along the right slot. She took her dribble into the top corner of the box, cutting in to beat the outside fullback. Lowe then shifted the ball back to her right foot as the center-back came over to challenge her. Lowe set the ball into enough space to have her shot with the right foot and fired it into the far post side netting before the goalkeeper could react.
With a 1-0 lead, Manteo began to settle in on the ball and pin Camden back into their own half. With Manteo’s dominance on the ball, Camden often sat nine defenders back in front of the box while holding one lone striker atop the midline. Manteo’s short passing game kept the ball on the ground and earned them a number of great attacking opportunities.
With a gusting wind at their back in the first half, Manteo often opted to shoot from outside the 18-yard box. Keylin Zavala’s first shot from deep was collected by the goalie, while her second shot curled back across the goal, striking the crossbar and back into play. Lowe and Emma Ortega made an effort to redirect the deflected shot off the crossbar, but were unable to get clean strikes on the ball.
Ortega would later often find the ball at her feet inside the 18-yard box amongst a sea of bodies. She did well to find small pockets of space and use skill moves to set up her shot, but the goalkeeper continued to deny her shots with quality saves.
With sixteen minutes remaining in the first half, Lowe worked the ball down the left flank, dancing around multiple defenders before cutting the ball back inside and dropping it back to Zavala. Zavala unleased a shot from 25 yards out, again trying to curl it into the far post. The ball struck the post for the second time and deflected out of play.
Two minutes later, Lowe would earn a brace on the evening and double the lead for Manteo. Lowe and Zavala executed a one-two around a defender down the left flank. Zavala’s pass back to Lowe lead her into the 18-yard box, where she side stepped a defender and then got off a low shot. The low shot in the near post corner gave the tall goalkeeper trouble, and the ball was fumbled into the back of the net.
Through the rest of the first half, Manteo continued to earn quality shots on target. Their attacking presence was often initiated by Ragen Twiford. Twiford positioned herself well in front of the Manteo backline and cut out any intermediate passes that were intended to set up long ball service to the lone striker. Manteo took the 2-0 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Manteo had to to be more weary of Camden’s long ball tactics as they now had the wind at their back. Camden’s goalkeeper was now punting the ball well past the midline giving them a start to an attack that had been lacking all game long.
Manteo kept at their simple and short passing game tactics, working the ball down in and around the box before firing off shots. The style of play kept Camden pinned back in a defensive shell. However, Camden did make one halftime adjustment and added a second striker to sit atop the midline in an effort to create more attacking transitions.
Ten minutes into the second half, Angelica Landazuri dropped back deep to collect a ball in the defensive midfield. She brought the ball up to the midline before playing Zavala checking back to the ball. Zavala then played Landazuri back into space around the pressing midfielder. Landazuri then cut inside and slotted a pass to Ortega just inside the center of the 18-yard box. Ortega looked for a shot, but it was deflected upwards by the center-back. Lowe chased it down along the end-line and then cut it back across into the six-yard box for Ortega to have a second crack. Ortega’s shot was punched forward by the goalkeeper and back to the top of the box. Zavala collected the ball, side stepped a defender and found space for her shot. Zavala’s shot deflected off the shoulder of the center-back sitting 3 yards in front of the goalie, and rerouted around the keeper to find the back of the net. The goal gave Manteo a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Camden’s best and only real attacking threat came shortly after Manteo’s third goal. A long punt by the Camden goal keeper took a long hard bounce over two of Manteo’s backline defenders. Manteo’s keeper, Montana Miller, sprung off her line, but in a scurry of bodies, the ball slipped past her and was rolling towards the goal. Right-back, Thalia Aguirre Gomez, recovered behind the play and cleared the ball out of the box from just a couple yards off the goal-line.
Manteo continued their attacking play with a flurry of shots in the remaining minutes. Ortega would strike the crossbar off a shot from the left corner of the 18-yard box, making it the third time in the game Manteo was denied by the woodwork. Despite the numerous looks at goal, the game would end with the 3-0 score line.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “It’s always great to beat our conference rivals. I felt we controlled the game and dominated the run of play. We were a bit unlucky to find the post so often and their keeper made some great saves. With that being said, I feel our energy and effort could have been higher. We played well, but certainly not our best performance.”
Cici Lowe: 2 goals
Keylin Zavala: 1 goal, 1 assist