AUGUSTA — It didn’t take the Cony and Messalonskee boys soccer teams long to get things going on Thursday afternoon, as the two sides combined for four goals in the first 17 minutes at Kennebec Savings Bank Field.

The only problem for the Rams was that the visiting team never let up.

Senior striker James Kouletsis struck for four goals, three off headed balls, and Messalonskee cruised to a 5-1 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A win.

All of the match’s scoring came in the first half, with the most emphatic goal coming off Kouletsis’ head as the clock struck halftime.

“I heard somebody screaming on the sidelines that there was only 20 seconds left (in the half),” Kouletsis said. “We were screaming to get a service in, and Colby Charette put a great ball in, and I was able to find a little space and put the ball in the net.”

Messalonskee improved to 3-1-1 with their most complete performance of the season.

“Other than the first minute when we had that unfortunate PK happen against us, we came out and had a great outing today,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “It was very good.”

And about that penalty kick: Cony (3-2-0) couldn’t have scripted a better start to the match. Before the first minute of play had elapsed, Jeff Bilodeau played a tremendously timed through ball to Nate Parlin for a breakaway into the area, but Parlin was awarded the PK, which he finished off right down the center of the goal mouth.

It was only the beginning on what would turn into a wild next few minutes.

Three minutes after Parlin’s PK, Kouletsis tied the game with his first — heading home his own rebound off the crossbar in the fifth minute. One minute later, midfielder Dan Turner put a long curling shot on goal that gave Messalonskee a 2-0 lead.

A handball in the 16th minute granted Kouletsis a PK of his own, which he whisked past Cony goalkeeper Nick Robinson (13 saves).

With a 3-1 lead, the Eagles found all the space they needed on the wide playing surface. It was something they’d had trouble finding in recent matches against Brunswick and Camden Hills.

“We played the ball well through the middle,” Kouletsis said. “We’ve really been trying to have a weak-side attack. Our midfield did a helluva job today. It was a really good job overall.”

“We pushed our outside defenders up to try and spread things out wide, so we can switch the ball over the top,” Turner said. “We’re spreading out their defense so much that it’s giving us time to work (in the midfield).”

More than tactics, it was Messalonskee’s response to the early Cony goal that had the senior captain Turner happiest.

“We’ve kind of struggled when teams have scored,” Turner said. “Today, we just used it as fuel.”

Kouletsis scored his third in the 40th minute, when Jack Moore took a short-corner play and lofted the ball to the striker’s head at the far post for the 4-1 lead.

“If you can win the ball in the air, that’s a huge part of things,” Kouletsis said. “If you can win those 50-50s in the air, it’s a huge part of the game.”

“He’s phenomenal in the air. He can do some really nice things in the air,” Sheridan said of Kouletsis. “We do a really nice job servicing the ball to him. We need somebody out there who can finish, and he definitely goes hard. He’s fearless.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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