WATERVILLE — Despite heat, humidity and the brutality that is the prospect of conditioning and two-a-days in the late Maine summer, T.T. Brandon welcomed preseason with open arms.

Brandon, who moved to Waterville from West Virginia in early August, craved two things more than anything else. She wanted to be the Purple Panthers starting goalkeeper — and she wanted to get out of the house.

“We moved in literally two weeks before I started soccer,” said Brandon, who has helped lead Waterville to a 17-0-0 record and a spot in the Class B state championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. against Yarmouth at Hampden Academy. “It was nice to get out of the house. I have four siblings, so it was a nice way to get out of the house and not be with four siblings.

“I came in and I just wanted the position. I knew if I played hard enough, I knew I could get it. But there was competition, so I was nervous coming in but once I had the spot I was happy.”

Brandon has been a nice fit for Waterville. Though an extremely talented back four in front of her has left her with precious few opportunities to show off her skills between the sticks, Panthers coach Mark Serdjenian always knew what a gem he had in Brandon.

“She might be 5-9 or 5-10, but she plays much bigger than that,” said Serdjenian of Brandon, who has allowed only three goals all season while posting an incredible 14 shutouts.

The toughest task Brandon faced on a daily basis was simply staying active.

“I think the hardest thing is not having to do much,” Brandon said. “I’m used to moving around and speaking up, but these girls kind of already knew what to do. I just had to make sure we were in line when the time came.”

“That’s tough for a goalkeeper,” Serdjenian acknowledged. “It’s tough to hang around, hang around and then respond when she was called upon.”

Brandon, though, did just that in the Class B North final against Hermon. Protecting a 1-0 lead in the final five minutes, Brandon made two huge saves in succession — both on long drives targeted for the space just under the crossbar. She leapt to deflect one off the bar and then dove to push the other one out entirely.

“The two finest saves she made in that game were both tips around the bar,” Serdjenian said. “That’s a great strength of hers. She has great instincts on those high balls, and she’s got some ups.”

“I was nervous but I feel like muscle memory helps a lot in situations like that,” Brandon added. “And our defense is wonderful. Without them, I know that the game wouldn’t have gone the way it did.”

Like every player in the Waterville lineup, Brandon has simply worked at getting better day by day.

“They’ve bought into the concept of team is more important than any individual,” Serdjenian said. “Share the ball. Play the easiest pass that you see, no matter who it’s going to. I think that’s shown up as the year has progressed, as the games have gotten tougher, and it’s worked to our benefit.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC