On Monday, May 3rd, your Lady Redskins began their playoff run by hosting a first round game against the Hobbton Wildcats. The game was scheduled for a 5 PM kick-off time, but scattered thunderstorms throughout the area put the game on a lightning delay. By 5 PM, the storm had passed, allowing players to come out and warm up and the game would get underway just thirty minutes later.
The Wildcats had been having a solid season right up until April 15th, when they ran into a series of quarantine periods. They had not been able to practice or play since that date. Manteo would look to jump out to an early lead before Hobbton could knock the rust off.
Manteo did get off to a strong start, winning possession in the midfield right away and producing a concise combination through the right slot to spring winger, Cici Lowe, into the 18-yard box. Lowe got off a quality shot at a tough angle but inched it just wide of the near post in the first minute of the game.
Manteo’s central midfield trio of Angelica Landazuri, Ragen Twiford, and Hannah Hogan did well to win 50/50 balls sent out on punts and goal kicks to award Manteo with more attacking opportunities early in the game. Five minutes into the game and Manteo earned there first quality shot on target. A long throw-in from Landazuri on the left flank was brought down by Amy Rios Tovar in the 18-yard box. After a back and forth with the defender, Rios Tovar was able to square the ball back across the box to an awaiting Hogan. Hogan struck the ball on her first touch with her right foot, looking to tuck the ball away nicely into the side netting. The Wildcat goalkeeper made a fully extended diving save on the ground to parry the ball around the goal post and out of bounds for a corner kick.
Manteo focused in on attacking with overloads down the flanks, using one-two combinations to pass around defenders and get in behind the backline. The Redskins were really beginning to control the game but were struggling to find their finishing touch. Emma Ortega, Lowe and Landazuri were all getting shots off, but were unable to find the back of the net.
Fifteen minutes into the first half, striker Keylin Zavala, got Manteo on the scoreboard. Play began with a goal-kick taken by the Wildcats. Ortega battled with a defender just outside the 18-yard box to knock the ball down, out of the air, and over to an awaiting Zavala. Zavala collected the ball as the defender pressed her from the side. Zavala executed a beautiful “Maradona” to spin on top of the ball, keeping the defender on her back, and then unleashed a line-drive shot that stung the back of the net. The goalkeepers only option was to turn and watch the ball sail past her.
Shortly after, Hobbton earned there first quality look on goal after bringing the ball down off a free-kick that sent the ball to the top of the 18-yard box. Manteo was holding the line, and knocked the ball down, keeping it in front. A battle for the ball begin amongst several players on both teams. The ball deflected over nicely for a Hobbton attacker and she fancied a strike first time. It was well struck but directly at the goalkeeper. Montana Miller stood tall in goal and calmly stopped the shot on target.
Manteo ramped up their attacking efforts looking to take a strong hold over the game. Lowe and Hogan were prolific down the flank, seemingly executing one-two passing combinations around anyone that dared step to them.
With fifteen minutes remaining in the first half, Rios Tovar and Zavala combined to work the ball down the left flank. Rios Tovar stood her defender up near the corner of the 18-yard box. She then squared the ball inside to Ortega sitting atop the box. Ortega faced her defender and beat her to the right but a second defender stepped in to knock the ball away from Ortega. The ball popped over to Lowe who knocked it forward and back into the box. Ortega chased it down with a pressing defender on her shoulder. Ortega was able to win the ball, opting to volley the ball out of the air on her first touch. The volley was initially saved by the goalkeeper with fully raised hands and the ball squirted through her finger tips and behind her. The keeper quickly spun and reached back to knock the ball off the goal-line before it was able to bounce across for a goal. As the keeper went down and the ball bounced back out, Lowe pounced to knock it home and give Manteo a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Hobbton’s best look at goal came off a well executed short corner kick that saw the second ball find the runner to the back post. The Wildcat attacker opted to chest the ball and Miller was able to scurry across her line and catch the ball off the chest before the attacker could get a second touch for a shot.
In the final ten minutes of the first half, the Lady Redskins kept the goalkeeper busy with more shots on target but she was stepping up making terrific saves. With only a couple minutes remaining in the half, Lowe was able to beat the goalkeeper with a top drawer blast. Lowe drove into the 18-yard box from the right flank, attacking the near post. Her initial shot was blocked by the defenders back. Lowe collected the ball and then cut inside, drawing another defender with her. As the defender pressed hard in an effort to cut her off to the inside, Lowe pulled the ball back, sending the defender passing by. She pushed the ball back in front to set her shot and drilled the ball across the front of the goalkeeper and into the far-post upper corner. Manteo entered the halftime period with a 3-0 lead.
In the second half, Manteo continue to control the run of play for the most part. Hobbton opted to leave more players up front in an effort to draw one back and get back into the game. The Manteo backline of Thalia Gomez, Eva Klauser, and Lillie Twyne were up to the tasks of chasing down any long ball service sent through their line. The physical play of Gomez often broke up the attack, and Klauser used her speed to clean up any balls that may have squirmed their way into the final third.
Manteo worked hard up top in an effort to earn a fourth goal and seemingly put the game to bed. Rios Tovar and Ortega combined again, but Ortega’s shot was saved by the keeper. Lowe was continuing to give the Wildcat outside-backs fits down the flanks. Zavala and Landazuri were busy pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch and it seemed inevitable that a fourth goal would come.
The fourth goal came from a textbook counter attack that saw the build up begin deep on the left flank. Hogan won the ball in the defensive third before laying it off wide to Lowe. Lowe cut inside to beat her defender and continued to angle in before playing Zavala on a diagonal pass, leading her towards the right flank. Zavala chased the ball down into the space in front and dribbled to the top right corner of the box. She curled in a beautiful cross as she had Ortega picked out all alone inside the box, after the Hobbton backline had been stretched and pulled on the counter attacking switch of play. Ortega was unable to connect on the cross but Lowe had kept up with the counter attack she helped create and the ball fell to her on the back post. Lowe smashed it from six yards out. The pace on the shot was too much for the keeper to control and the ball deflected back into the goal, giving Manteo a 4-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the game.
In the remainder of the game, things continued as they were. Manteo controlled the game with possession and shots on goal while Hobbton looked to push bodies forward on a counter attack. Landazuri was unlucky to leave the game scoreless after striking the crossbar twice in a row in a span of two minutes.
The game would end as a 4-0 victory for the Lady Redskins and they move on to face Granville Central in a second round fixture.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “There were moments where we played brilliantly with beautiful combinations through the midfield and final third. There were also moments of laziness in which I let our girl’s know my unhappiness in regards to such. In the playoffs, we need to be sure to always play a full 80 minutes and give everything we have. Nothing else will suffice. I do think this team can continue our win streak and make a lot of noise in playoffs this year though.”
Cici Lowe: 3 goals
Keylin Zavala: 1 goal