On Wednesday, April 21st, your Lady Redskins traveled up to the town of Hertford to take on the Perquimans Pirates. In their previous fixture, the Redskins bested the Pirates by a score of 6-0. The second leg fixture would take place on Perquimans extremely wide field and with winds gusting above 25 miles per hour.
The game got underway, seeing Manteo control the ball early on as the Pirates sat back in a defensive shape. The Perquimans backline and center defensive midfielders camped out along the 18-yard line and swarmed any ball that came near. Manteo was going against the wind in the first half, and often mistakenly opted for outside of the box shots that held up in the wind, making easy work for the goalkeeper.
The Lady Redskins had no issues dominating midfield play as the home-side backline never left the 18-yard line. They were able to pass the ball around on the ground with ease through the midfield, but lacked the creativity and the determination to break through the final line of defense.
The deadlock was broken 12 minutes in the first half. The initial combination play through left slot and middle led to a shot attempt from Keylin Zavala. Zavala’s shot attempt was blocked, seeing the ball sail backwards and high into the air. The ball was brought down by Cici Lowe as she came in from the right flank to collect it. Lowe found Angelica Landazuri in the middle of the pitch. Landazuri looked to penetrate on the dribble, but found no room to do so. She pulled the ball back, and passed back to Hannah Hogan. Hogan drew the attention of their striker so she quickly played it to Lowe on the flank. Lowe and Hogan then executed a beautiful 1-2 passing combination around the outside midfielder to spring Lowe down the sideline, drawing the outside back over to defend the ball. Lowe beat the defender with a burst of speed and then let it fly from the top right corner of the 18-yard box. She lofted the ball over the outstretched hand of the goalie and into the far post side netting.
While the goal gave Manteo the lead, it did little to open the game up. The first half overall was a dull affair. Manteo earned a plethora of outside shots, but aside from Zavala drilling the crossbar, there were no more truly threating attempts on goal. On the few occasions that the Pirates squeaked the ball out of their own half looking to counter with two strikers, the Manteo backline of Lillie Twyne, Eva Klauser, and Thalia Aguirre Gomez were always there to shut it down promptly.
The Redskins took the 1-0 lead into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the ladies looked a bit more energized with a better understanding of how to put the game to bed with another couple goals. The attacking play was a bit quicker, with short combination play, but they still struggled to break through the backline of the Pirates.
With the wind at their back now, it was again shot after shot for Manteo. Many shots were more troubling, but the goalkeeper was continually up for the task.
With 15 minutes remaining in the game, Manteo finally netted their second goal to seemingly but the game to bed as the Pirates had offered no real attacking threat all night. Lowe collected the ball out wide on the left flank, and found Hogan on a square pass into the middle of the pitch. Hogan drove the ball forward, beating one defender before causing the backline to step up a little bit. As the lined stepped up, Hogan found the feet of Emma Ortega as she has pushed the center-back into the box, holding her on her back hip. Ortega executed a well weight 1-2 pass with Hogan as Hogan continued her run into the box. Hogan took a touch, drawing the goalie off the line. She then slotted the ball home, passing it around the keeper as she came charging out.
Manteo continued to press the issue in the remaining minutes of the game. With two minutes remaining in the game, a moment of brilliance by Landazuri brought the score-line to 3-0.
Hogan and Lowe looked to attack the left flank. When Lowe could not turn the corner, she walked it back and dropped it to Hogan. Hogan then squared the ball into Landazuri, sitting atop the 18-yard box. Surrounded by three defenders, Landazuri’s first touch saw the ball pop up on her. As the ball lifted, she swung her left foot around on a side volley, striking the ball cleanly and bound for goal. The goalkeeper stumbled across the goal-line as she was caught off guard. The volley dropped into the bottom far-post side-netting.
The game ended in a 3-0 victory for the Redskins.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “A win and clean sheet is what we always play for. However, I would not state that we played well. We played lazy at times, and lacked creativity in the final third. Too often, we settled for outside shots, instead of challenging the backline. We totaled 45 shots as a team, but not enough of them were quality shots and it shows in the score-line. Final third creativity is something we will work on going forward.”
Cici Lowe: 1 goal
Angelica Landazuri: 1 goal
Hannah Hogan: 1 goal
Emma Ortega: 1 assist