On Wednesday, April 28th, your Lady Redskins hosted Bear Grass Charter for their final regular season game. When the week began, the schedule noted the Hatteras Hurricanes as the opponent. However, Hatteras was unable to field enough players for the final game and Bear Grass Charter was kind enough to step in and travel to Manteo for the fixture.
The game kicked off with Manteo taking early control of the game. Bear Grass set up with two defensive low blocks, while holding two strikers up top. Manteo was able to control the game through midfield but struggled to navigate through the low blocks in the final attacking third.
When Manteo was able to break through the Bear Grass defense, they seemed to have left their finishing boots at home for the evening. Almost all of their shots were off target, and those that were not, did little to challenge the goal keeper as shooting into a howling wind was not helping their cause. As the half drew on and the score remained nil-nil, Manteo’s frustrations grew, and Bear Grass Charter’s confidence turned into a belief.
With three minutes remaining in the first half, Amy Rios Tovar collected a ball deep in the left corner of the pitch. She turned and faced up her defender, beating her with a side-step dribble and then played a low cross into the box. The ball found its way past the two defenders in the middle of the goal and made its way to Cici Lowe, waiting near the back-post. Lowe struck the ball on her first touch and placed it into the top corner of the goal. Lowe was quickly ruled offside by the narrowest of margins and the score remained a draw. Despite the goal being called back, seeing the ball go in the net did seem to give Manteo a bit of momentum going into the halftime period.
The halftime period was used to honor Manteo’s two senior players, Eva Klauser, and Ragen Twiford. Both players have been four year starters for the program. They are also the current captains of this year’s team.
As the second half got under way, Manteo looked reinvigorated in their attacking endeavors. The Lady Redskins began to move off the ball and involve a third-person runner for misdirection and options in their attacks.
Two minutes into the second half, and Manteo broke the deadlock. Keylin Zavala received the ball on the left flank after a diagonal run out wide. Zavala faced up and beat her pressing defender before squaring the ball into the top of the 18-yard box to find the feet of Lowe. Lowe took a collecting touch with her back foot, and set up her shot as she pushed the ball into the space beyond the two defenders near by. Lowe’s shot was lacking the normal power behind the ball but she placed the ball at an awkward height for the goalkeeper. The keeper bent over to catch the ball about her shins and fumbled the ball through her gloves, allowing the ball to trickle beyond the goal line for Manteo’s first goal.
Five minutes later, Manteo doubled their lead with a beautiful strike from Angelica Landazuri. A scrum formed in front of the 18-yard box as Lowe, Zavala, and Hannah Hogan all knocked the ball about before Hogan opted to find the space behind the scrum to an awaiting Landazuri. Landazuri took a collecting touch with her right foot and parried the ball across to her strong side. She unleased a strike off the laces of her boot that was always bound for the back of the net as a helpless goalkeeper could only stand by.
Manteo’s attacking forwards begin to notice the tendency of the Bear Grass defense to follow the ball in numbers. Therefore, they began to overload the flanks, looking to draw bodies away from the goal, opening up space for balls coming back central.
With twenty eighth minutes minutes remaining on the clock, Landazuri took off down the left sideline, drawing several defenders towards her as Zavala made a diagonal run out wide, drawing much of the backline in a wide shift. Landazuri cut in and quickly played a beautifully weighted ball over the top with the outside of her left foot to an on-running Lowe. Lowe’s pace tracked it down easy and found herself all alone in the 18-yard box with only the keeper to beat. The timing of her run was spot on but her finish was not. The goalkeeper was able to knock the shot down before collecting it.
Just before the second half mask break, Landazuri was on the move again down the left flank. This time she played Hogan into space in the left corner of the pitch. Hogan drew the defenders out wide and deep near the end-line. She then walked it back and played it back in front of Landazuri making a diagonal run into the box. Landazuri struck the ball first time. Her shot took a slight deflection off the shin of the Bear Grass center-back. The deflection froze the goalkeeper and the ball found the back of the net to give Manteo a 3-0 lead.
In the final twenty minutes, Manteo made a few adjustments and moved seniors Klauser and Twiford up top in an effort to get them a goal on senior night.
Manteo continued to dominate the run of play while only allowing a handful of counter attacks for the away side. The Manteo backline was up for the task of negating any real threatening shots, except for one which required a diving save from Montana Miller in goal. Miller made it look easy and Manteo kept their clean sheet.
With twelve minutes remaining in the game, Lowe brought down a high, bouncing ball in the midfield. A brief exchange of possession occurred as Lowe fought for the ball against two defenders. Lowe emerged with the ball and took off for goal. She drove the ball past four chasing defenders and worked it down into the 18-yard box. Lowe picked up her head up with great poise, eyed her spot as the keeper stood tall, and she curled the shot into the back post side-netting for her second goal of the evening.
Less than a minute later, Landazuri helped Twiford make it a memorable senior night. Landazuri drove the ball at pace, cutting inside from the left flank. Landazuri drew the attention of multiple defenders as Twiford pressed the back shoulder of the center-back atop the 18-yard box. Landazuri slotted a well-weighted ball through the backline for Twiford. She took one touch to push it forward and out of reach of the recovering defender. She beat the goalkeeper to the ball and with her second touch, tucked it nicely into the near post side-netting. Twiford and Klauser celebrated with a chest bump, as it is called for when either defender scores a goal.
The game ended in a 5-0 victory for the Lady Redskins. They wrap up the season with a 8-4 overall record, stringing all eight of their wins together in a row after loosing their first four contest.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was the game of two halves. We were not mentally focused and prepared to play in the first half and we allowed them to hand around. In the second half, we found some form and focus and played much better. I hope we can remember this lesson going forward. When we are mentally prepared and focused, we are a great team that can beat anyone. When we are not mentally dialed in, anything can happen. A nod to our seniors, Eva and Ragen. They have been tremendous over the years for our program and we will certainly miss this next year.”
Cici Lowe: 2 goals
Angelica Landazuri: 2 goals, 1 assist
Hannah Hogan: 2 assist
Ragen Twiford: 1 goal
Keylin Zavala: 1 assist