WINSLOW — When the Black Raiders have their way in the middle of the field, they can make for some very long afternoons for the opposition.

Spencer Miranda and Jack Mornault each scored a pair of goals, and Winslow controlled midfield play in the second half to grab a nice early season win over rival Waterville by a 4-2 score Tuesday afternoon at Kennebec Savings Bank Field.

The Black Raiders (2-0-0) got an early first-minute strike, but it wasn’t until the second half when they really hit their stride. After trying in vain for quick-strike goals down the middle of the field, Winslow settled into a more controlled possession game that provided plenty of scoring chances.

Mornault’s first goal of the game came on a nifty little back-heel along the goal line on a short corner play, when the tall junior was left unmarked in traffic on the far post. Six minutes later, the center midfielder Miranda scored his second of the day when Isaac Lambrecht flicked a nice little touch into the 18-yard box for him. Miranda held onto it long enough to pull the keeper off his line, then finished with a beautiful bending shot inside the far post for a 3-0 lead in the 51st minute.

“We tried to exploit their weaknesses,” Miranda said. “We just tried to get the ball to the middle, a quick-switch through the middle, and then just switch it back to our strikers up at the top. It seemed to work, and it really opened up the field.”

Both goals came off lengthy spells of possession for Winslow, which won a number of long balls played into the midfield to keep Waterville on its collective heels.

“We’ve got some speed up top, but sometimes you want to work the ball around,” Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe said. “I thought we did a better job in the second half of finding our opportunities and playing it around and finding good shots, instead of just going straight to goal.”

If it weren’t for standout freshman goalkeeper Zach Menoudarakos’ 14 saves, Waterville (1-1-0) could have found itself in a much deeper deficit.

But the Purple Panthers created most of their own headaches, accumulating five yellow cards — all but one for unsporting behavior — that led to playing with only 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

“We’ve obviously got some things to sort out so we can have our best players on the field,” Waterville coach Kerry Serdjenian said. “It makes a big difference. When you don’t have a lot of depth, you’ve got to have your best guys on the field.”

Still, Waterville found its way back into the game.

Justin Wentworth scored on a free kick from 25 yards out in the 63rd minute, and Ethan Cayer scored when he won a footrace against Winslow keeper Jake Lapierre and slid the ball through in the 73rd minute.

Those goals came sandwiched around Mornault’s second, in which he picked up Miranda’s throw-in from the right sideline, settled the ball at his feet, and tucked a bender of his own into the far corner.

“We played really well as a team, and we moved it through the middle,” Mornault said. “Every game is important, but it feels really good to beat Waterville.”

After both teams slogged through the first half — with Miranda’s early strike the only scoring in the first 40 minutes — Miranda and Lambrecht really imposed their will on the midfield after the halftime break. Miranda, especially, was equally adept at finding space for himself or creating scoring chances for his teammates.

“He definitely dictates a lot of what happens through the middle,” Wolfe said. “He always plays a really good ball up top, he has a great shot, he’s a good defender. He’s a really good all-around player, and he had a very good game today.”

“We knew if we got the ball to the middle, we could get it out to our wings (in the second half),” Miranda said. “We knew we had to keep our heads and keep playing our game.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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