WATERVILLE — After winning its final three regular season games by a combined 27-0 score, the Waterville Senior High School boys soccer team learned on Saturday that the playoffs are a completely different animal.

At Webber Field on Saturday morning, the Purple Panthers scored midway through the first half then had to hold off a pesky Hermon team to earn a 1-0 win in the preliminary round of the Class B North tournament.

“It wasn’t pretty. We squeaked it out. Now we have another chance to do what we do,” Waterville coach Kerry Serdjenian said. “Sometimes in playoffs, it gets a little bit frantic. We didn’t posses the ball the way that we can. We’ve had so many games this year where we’ve played really gorgeous soccer, so I’m not concerned.”

No. 5 Waterville, now 12-2-1, will play at No. 4 Oceanside (10-2-2) in a quarterfinal game Wednesday at 2 p.m. No. 12 Hermon finished the season 3-10-2. Waterville and Oceanside played once in the regular season, with Waterville taking a 1-0 win.

Waterville controlled play early in the game and just missed on a few scoring chances. Finally, with 24:17 left in the first half, Michael Oliveira put the Panthers on the board. Oliveira took a crossing pass from Nick Dufour from the left and found the right corner of the net.

“(Dufour) just slid it over hoping somebody was there and I just ran onto it and finished,” Oliveira said. “The first 10 minutes, that’s where we had most of our opportunities. We just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. (I’m) hoping next game we can.”

Hermon had a chance to tie the game with just under 12 minutes left in the first half, but Niels Klueter’s shot from the top of the box hit the crossbar. Throughout the second half, the Hawks kept the pressure on. With just under 35 minutes to play, Waterville goalie Jackson Aldrich made a sliding save of a John Snyer shot to preserve the Panthers’ one-goal lead. With nine minutes to play, the Hawks hit the crossbar again, this time off the foot of Matt Leach.

“They were just pressing hard and we weren’t playing our best. But a win’s a win. We pulled it out. They definitely played hard,” Oliveira said.

Waterville finally regained some control over the final five minutes and sealed the win. For much of the second half, the Panthers weren’t connecting on their transition passes, allowing the Hawks to dictate play, Serdjenian said.

“You don’t win them all 8-0, 9-0. We’ve just got to be patient and trust the process,” Serdjenian said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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