There was an opening for a striker on the Waterville girls soccer team this fall and the perfect player showed up to fill it.

Neither coach Ian Wilson nor his players knew exactly what to expect from Winslow transfer Pilar Elias, but based on her high school and premiere team resume, they knew she could play.

“We could tell she was a technically good player,” Wilson said. “What was unknown was how she fit in with the rest of the team.”

Elias adapted quickly to her teammates and responded with a banner year, scoring 45 goals and adding 16 assists to help the Purple Panthers to the Eastern Maine Class B championship. For her efforts, Elias has been selected Morning Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Also considered were Carrabec’s Brookelynne Lewis, Madison’s Kirsten Wood and Waterville’s Lydia Roy.

Elias decided to transfer to Waterville over the summer and said her decision was based on a number of reasons, “mostly because of education.” She showed up in superb shape after a summer spent running and working out.

“This summer I really worked my butt off to make sure I was the fittest I could be,” she said.

Elias played more midfield than anything for Winslow and considers herself a passer more than a scorer. That didn’t mean she couldn’t adjust to a scorer’s role, though.

“Not everyone is cut out to play it,” Wilson said. “Her first touch is really outstanding. Even in a fast game when she’s under pressure she can receive the ball cleanly.”

Elias has a strong shot and is proficient with both feet. But there’s room for improvement in her game and she knows it.

“I love learning new things,” she said. “You can never learn enough.”

Elias devotes herself to soccer year round, working out with weights and playing the game. She recently returned from a national tournament in Florida where she competed for her premiere team, Seacoast United. She hopes she turned some heads because she’d like to play college soccer, “hopefully Division I.”

First she has another year with the Purple Panthers and Wilson has challenged her to become a better player.

“She responded great to everything I asked her to do,” Wilson said. “Some of the things she was uncomfortable doing like defensive pressure on the ball. My goal as a coach is I want her to be better than when she came to me.”

Elias improved throughout the season and will no doubt be a better player next fall when she takes the high school field. Wilson said she’s technically one of the best players he’s ever coached, but he wasn’t prepared for the intangibles she brought to games and practices.

“She’s such an intense kid on field,” Wilson said. “A lot of players saw what was capable.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ