WATERVILLE — Waterville may not seem as imposing on paper this year, from its record to its players to its new head coach. But as Maranacook discovered in Tuesday’s Kennebec Vallety Athletic Conference match at Webber Field, coming at the Purple Panthers with anything less than your best will likely produce the same results that have become all-too-familiar to their opposition.

Sophie Webb scored two goals to lead Waterville to a 4-1 victory over Maranacook. The defending Class B state champions, who haven’t lost a game since the 2013 state title game, never trailed and dominated more as the game progressed.

“It feels completely different (than last year), but in good ways,” senior striker Fotini Shanos said. “We are more of a team. We all get goals now instead of just a few star players. Now it’s more of a team effort.”

“Every single part of our offense works together,” Webb said.

Shanos and Anika Elias each had a goal and an assist for the Purple Panthers (3-0-1). Jana Elwell spoiled Waterville’s shutout bid on a late penalty kick for the Black Bears (1-2-0).

Last year, Maranacook was one of Waterville’s toughest regular-season obstacles en route to the gold ball. The Black Bears limited a prolific Waterville scoring attack to one goal through roughly two-thirds of an early-season contest before wearing down and ultimately falling, 4-0.

Maranacook coach Mike Morin was hoping for a similar effort from his defense Tuesday, but thought the Black Bears were flat most of the day.

“We always brought ourselves up for last year’s team, because they were so strong,” he said. “I think this year, we didn’t have that intensity. If we came with that same intensity… I think they’re still a stronger team, but I was surprised at the outcome.”

Maranacook did come out with the most pressure they put on Waterville goalie Gabi Martin (three saves) in the early stages. Waterville played its patented possession game, but had trouble finding open passing lanes, even when they did appear.

“It was hard at first,” first-year coach Christine Bright said. “We talked at halftime about changing the point of attack, so a lot of switching and making it a little bit harder, hoping they would be in one spot and we could quickly attack from a different direction. I think they listened and did a really nice job. I think our midfield and our defense was really important to make that happen.”

Although it took some time for them to figure out how to attack, the Purple Panthers still have the firepower to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, such as when Shanos found Webb in transition for a near-breakaway in the first five minutes of the game. Webb beat a defender to the right of Maranacook goalie Sierra Wilson (10 saves), then delivered to the lower right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“We had lots of through balls and playing the feet and not just kicking it over their head,” Webb said. “Fotini played it through to me and then I went and just took on a defender.”

Shanos went top corner to make it 2-0 later in the half.

“I noticed their defense was holding back a little, so I should start taking outside shots,” Shanos said. “The next open one I had, I just took it.”

Waterville held Maranacook without a shot for the bulk of the second half while Webb scored off an assist from Elias nearly 10 minutes in to make it 3-0.

“I don’t think anything has gotten to that point where it’s become second nature to us yet,” Morin said. “We have key people in the midfield, but the not-so-strong players just are not seeing it. And that will come.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected] Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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