The Waterville girls soccer team was expected to be one of the teams to beat this season as it dropped from Class A to Class B. The Purple Panthers return nine players from last year’s tournament team and have added a prolific scorer in junior Pilar Elias who transferred from Winslow.

Elias scored all five goals in a season opening win against Nokomis and added three in a 10-1 win against Belfast in which teammate Lydia Roy scored four goals.

“That’s certainly been a good addition to our team,” Waterville coach Ian Wilson said. “I’d say since Jordan Pellerin left we haven’t had that kid who’s a strong finisher.”

Elias played midfield last year at Winslow but has since moved to striker.

“She’s got an excellent shot and she’s very creative in the offensive third,” Wilson said. “I would say she plays bigger than her size. It’s obvious she’s played (soccer) at a really high level.”

Senior and three-sport athlete Colleen O’Donnell is one of the leading returnees and playing well at midfield.

“She just knows where the play is going before the other players do,” Wilson said.

Wilson said playing in Class B has taken some adjustments due to a more direct style of play than the Purple Panthers saw in Class A.

“It’s good for us to get reminded how to handle those types of balls,” he said. “a lot of teams are playing a fairly low-pressure defense against us. It’s taken some adjustments for our timing.”

* * *

The Mt. Abram boys played well in an opening game loss to Hall-Dale and poorly in a win against Wiscasset. Hall-Dale won 2-1 on a late goal from Konnor Longfellow.

“It was a very good game,” Mt. Abram coach Mark Lopez said. “They were a little more potent offensively. They took advantage of their opportunities.”

The Roadrunners beat Wiscasset 4-1 earlier this week, thanks to the work of junior goalkeeper Tristan Dyer, who saved a penalty kick in the first half and the subsequent rebound. He finished with 15 saves.

“I’m hoping he’s going to be an all-star this year,” Lopez said. “The kid works at his craft and he is playing very, very well. He just won us a game (Tuesday).”

Calum Dixon scored two goals to lead Mt. Abram in the second half against Wiscasset while junior Bryson Walker got a start and added a goal and an assist.

“He was the spark plug (Tuesday),” Lopez said of Walker. “I started him because he played well at Hall-Dale. He’s definitely going to start today.”

* * *

Mt. Blue boys coach Joel Smith said in preseason he hoped his team would be among the second tier of clubs in Eastern Maine Class A and compete for a tournament berth. So far, so good. The Cougars are 2-0 heading into a game Saturday against Mt. Ararat in Topsham.

“We’ve definitely made some gains in some areas,” Smith said. “I think we’re on track with what we want to do and where we want to be.”

The Cougars only have three seniors on the team in Ike Doiron, Gage Kennedy and Sam Taylor and Smith said they’re all quality players. Junior Drew Parsons scored four goals in two games, including the game-winner against Oxford Hills.

“We’ve got a big test at Mt. Ararat on Saturday,” Smith said. “Win or lose I think it’s going to be a good indicator.”

* * *

After going 26-1-2 over the last two regular seasons, the Hall-Dale boys have a big target on their backs.

“When you’ve had a lot of success teams get geared up to play you,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said.

The Bulldogs remain formidable despite graduating nine starters from last year’s Western C regional championship team. Senior Konnor Longfellow and junior Nat Crocker both started a year ago, Longfellow on defense and Crocker at striker, but both have since moved to midfield and have three of the team’s four goals.

“I think they’re getting the better scoring opportunities,” Haskell said. “We don’t have a lot of offensive firepower. I think our strength is going to be team defense.”

The defense is anchored by sophomore Alex Guiou and his brother Nick, a freshman. Junior Brian Allen has taken over in goal.

“He looks pretty solid in goal,” Haskell said. “He’s starting to take control of the penalty area and take control of the defense. He’s replacing in my mind the best goalie in the state last year in Sam Shepherd.”

The Bulldogs, who were rarely challenged last season, nipped Mt. Abram 2-1 in the season opener before beating Carrabec 2-0.

“I think it’s going to be a much more balanced Mountain Valley Conference,” Haskell said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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