Waterville boys soccer coach Kerry Serdjenian made a critical decision last summer that was key to the Purple Panthers winning six more games this fall.

After going 3-11-0 a year ago, Serdjenian decided it was time to push his players a little harder in the summer. Instead of playing just two games a week, he added in three days of conditioning.

“It was so disappointing the previous year,” Serdjenian said. “The kids were not in good shape. I sat down with John (Terhune) and Ryan (Tozier), my senior captains and we came up with a plan to work out in the morning, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, run three miles and play pickup games.”

The plan paid dividends right way away as the Panthers competed with every team in the competitive Class A East and finished at 8-5-1. They added a prelim victory before falling to eventual regional champ Mt. Ararat.

For his efforts, Serdjenian has been selected Morning Sentinel Boys Soccer Coach of the year. Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe was also considered.

Serdjenian grew up in a soccer family under the guidance of his dad Mark, who just completed his 37th season as head coach at Colby College. He played for Waterville and two years at Brandeis, but it was the three years he served as assistant under his father at Colby that shaped his approach to coaching.

“He’s such a patient person,” Kerry said. “He tries to let the players make their own decisions during games. I kind of had that model.”

Serdjenian used the same approach with Waterville.

“He’s very thoughtful and kind of quiet in how he talks to people,” Terhune said. “At the same time (he’s) very intense about it.”

Serdjenian just completed his fourth year at Waterville, an important factor since he’s been able to work with his players since they were freshmen.

“He’s learned how to handle players a little bit more,” Terhune said. “Even more than that he’s gotten that influence over all four years. More than him changing he’s changed the team. I think he really turned the program around.”

Terhune said Serdjenian continued to make adjustments in practice even when the Panthers were winning games and was not afraid to make tough choices.

“He made a really tough decision in moving one of the best strikers in the state back to midfield,” Terhune said in reference to senior Tommy Samson.

Serdjenian, who is an Ed Tech at Albert S Hall School in Waterville, said it’s important to him to give back to the community in which he grew up.

“I’m proud of the Waterville tradition,” he said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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