On Wednesday, May 5th, your Lady Redskins traveled up to the town of Stem to face off in a second round showdown against the Granville Central Panthers. The Panthers were the highest seeded 1A team in their split conference and squeaked by Vance Charter in the first round, while Manteo put in a convincing first round win against Hobbton. However, all bets are off in every playoff round, and Manteo knew the Panthers would be eager to defend their home turf.
The game kicked off in favor of the Panthers. They were the aggressor on the ball while Manteo couldn’t seem to get off their heels and join the game. The Panther’s earned a shot on goal in the first two minutes of play, but goalkeeper, Montana Miller was able to easily field the shot. The first ten minutes of the game were mostly spent along the Manteo sideline, on their defensive half. It was an ugly start to the game that saw throw-in after throw-in. Manteo could just not get on the ball and connect consecutive passes.
The slow start may have been due to a long bus ride or the adjustment to a new pitch with a steep crown. Either way, the overall play was poor from the Redskins to start. It was not until about fifteen minutes into the game that Manteo woke up and began to maximize their efforts. Angelica Landazuri got the ball moving in the midfield and Hannah Hogan and Cici Lowe were often looking to combine down the flank to get the ball into the 18-yard box. On the other end, Thalia Gomez and Eva Klauser were chasing down runners and ending their attacks with strong standing tackles.
Through the first half, Manteo only earned five shots on goal, a far cry from their normal count. The play through the half was rather even on both sides and the teams entered the halftime period with a 0-0 score line.
Manteo came out of the halftime break looking like a new team. They were now playing on the front foot, pressing the issue and eager to separate themselves from the Panthers. Two minutes into the second half and Amy Rios Tovar gave the Redskins the spark they desperately needed. Landazuri got the play started by winning the ball in the center circle and driving forward. As she dribbled through the slot, pushing the backline onto the top of the 18-yard box, she attempted to slip the ball through the backline but it was deflected out wide. Rios Tovar had been making the run with Landazuri and the ball fell to her feet kindly while in stride. She took one touch into the box and then got a shot off just as the center-back pressed her. The goalkeeper had positioned well on the near post but the quick shot surprised her and stung her hands as it deflected behind the goalkeeper, beating her near post. The Redskins celebrated the 1-0 lead and looked to keep the momentum going.
A few minutes later, Manteo doubled their lead after Lowe earned the Redskins a free-kick midway down the left flank. Zavala took the free-kick and lofted the ball into a crowded 18-yard box. The ball took a high bounce through the box and Lowe opted for the side volley over the shoulder. Her shot was blocked by her defender and the battle for the second ball ensued. Lowe spun around, controlling the ball with her back to goal. Several other defenders rushed to her yet she maintained her composure and somehow faced up on goal, keeping the ball away from the surrounding bodies. She got her shot off, low and tucked nicely into the near post side-netting.
Ten minutes into the second half, Landazuri earned Manteo a corner kick after her cross was headed out by a defender. The resulting corner was sent in again by Landazuri, searching for a crashing Hogan atop the six-yard box. Hogan ran through the ball as it dropped just beyond two defenders and knocked it towards goal with her body. The ball spun off the outside of the up-right and out of bounds.
Unlucky not to score on her first attempt on goal, Hogan made her second attempt count just a minute later. Play began with Ragen Twiford winning the ball along the midline and quickly finding Lowe along the left flank. Lowe drove down the wing before cutting inside and playing a diagonal ball to Ortega just outside the 18-yard box. Ortega collected the ball on the half-turn, faced up the center-back, and then laid the ball off to Hogan who was making an inward diagonal run to the top of the box. Ortega laid it off nicely and Hogan opted for the shot on her first touch with her left foot. The quick shot was low and caught the keeper off guard as she scrambled across the goal-line. The ball clinked off the inside of the upright, and back across goal, crossing the goal-line on its way to the opposite side-netting. Hogan’s goal extended Manteo lead to 3-0 with just thirteen minutes drawn off the clock in the second half.
Manteo kept the momentum rolling for the rest of the game. Manteo’s midfield play elevated to control the game and create attacking opportunities for the Redskin forwards. Gomez and Klauser were stout in back, eating up anything that came their way and playing quality balls forward to feet to begin the next attack.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Klauser even opted for a solo run from the center-back position. She won the ball deep down the left flank and took off on a brilliant run with the ball, beating four Panthers along her way down the wing. As she dribbled to the top corner of the 18-yard box, she unleased a shot bound for the far corner only to be stopped by the quick movement of the goalkeeper. Despite the shot being saved, Klauser was all smiles on her way back to her position.
In the final five minutes, Manteo continued to pepper the goalkeeper as Granville had pushed bodies forward, leaving themselves a bit more exposed in the back. Despite the run of shots, most were directed right at the goalkeeper and no goals were to be added to the score-line.
The whistle blew and Manteo celebrated their 3-0 victory in the second round of the state playoffs. Manteo moves on to face East Carteret in the third round on Friday, May 7th.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was the tale of two half’s. We came out flat and played poorly in the first half. I asked the girls at halftime to win the first ten minutes of the second half. We scored three goals in those ten minutes so I’d say we accomplished that. Overall play was much better in the second half as we were much more creative on the ball. However, we need to be ready to play a full 80 minutes in the next round.”
Cici Lowe: 1 goal
Amy Rios Tovar: 1 goal
Hannah Hogan: 1 goal
Emma Ortega: 1 assist