WATERVILLE — The cream, as they say, always rises to the top.

Anika Elias needed only a few touches in the attacking third on Friday afternoon, turning those touches into a goal and an assist less than three minutes apart to lift the Waterville Senior High School girls soccer team to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Erskine at Webber Field in the Kennbec Valley Athletic Conference Class B opener for both.

Elias, a junior midfielder, set up senior Mackenzie St. Pierre with the tying strike in the 57th minute and then added her own on the hour mark to give the reigning regional champions the lead for good.

“I was trying to get touches on the ball, but they were man-marking me and I was kind of getting in my own head,” Elias said. “They were man-marking me, so Mack and other players had time to go through. I feel like I opened things up to help them.”

Despite missing last year’s leading goal-scorer — striker Sophie Webb is out for the season with a knee injury — the Panthers (1-0-0) won’t want for options this fall. Twice Elias had the ball inside the 18-yard box and twice she worked magic to turn that into goals.

She held play up long enough to draw a pair of Erskine defenders before dropping to an unmarked St. Pierre for the first goal, and then she held the ball in a similar spot minutes later, pivoting to fire under the crossbar to snap the 1-1 draw.

“I think we have (options),” Elias said. “We have some people who can cross from the wings, but I think it’s just learning more this year what we’re going to do… Over time, we’re going to get there. We’re going to learn each other more.”

Waterville head coach Mark Serdjenian agreed that the options are starting to show for his side.

“We are strong in the center midfield, and we try to force teams into there so we can get it,” Serdjenian said. “They’re really good going forward… It’s not going to surprise me if some goals come from the midfield — they are part of our attack.”

The second-half surge erased a 1-0 lead for Erskine, which had struck first on sophomore Jordan Linscott’s 20-yard boomer to the top corner in the 37th minute.

But where the Eagles (0-1-0) found trouble was in their defensive third. Erskine backs won several balls played either into the box or to wide spaces, but they didn’t have enough space or strength to pass the ball out of danger.

It created counterattacking opportunities for Waterville, which — eventually — turned into goals.

“That’s all it was,” Erskine head coach Ryan Nored said. “We had a game plan, to play keep-away, but we had a little trouble on the field trying to figure that out.

“We challenged their two best players (Elias and St. Pierre) to beat us, and they did. They’re the ones who hit the ball.”

Statistics were deceiving over the course of the afternoon. Waterville ended with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in shots (19-10) and had better possession, though Erskine was content to play more defensively — opting for only one striker while nursing the lead in the second half.

“After we got going, I think we figured it out,” St. Pierre said. “There were a lot of forced shots, a lot of rushed plays. Once we got the ball to the corners, that helped us.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC