SOUTH CHINA — Sam Wilkinson made himself feel right at home on Tuesday afternoon.

A former Erskine Academy student, Wilkinson stepped on familiar turf and scored a pair of goals — his second midway through the second half — as Maranacook remained unbeaten in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class B division with a 3-0 win over the Eagles.

“I still have a lot friends on the team, and it’s always fun to play against these guys,” Wilkinson said.

For the senior Wilkinson, it was as simple as moving from his familiar striker spot to the outside midfield position he occupied against the Eagles.

“We moved the ball to the outside more and we did what we wanted to on offense,” Wilkinson said. “The physicality is starting to come back into our game. We won more 50-50 balls and that helped.”

On just one such occasion, Wilkinson and junior center midfielder Jackson McPhedran combined for Maranacook’s second goal. McPhedran stepped up and won a ball in the center of the field, then the two played a series of nice little one-touch passes to send Wilkinson free behind the Erskine back line for the 2-0 lead in the 61st minute.

That goal came on the heels of Wilkinson’s first strike, in the 28th minute, when he settled Mitchell Root’s short cross on the left side of the box and put away an easy far-post finish.

“They gave us time from the midfield to the last third,” Maranacook Don Beckwith said of Wilkinson’s ability to be a game-changer. “(Erskine) packed it in, and it’s a tough game. Three goals is quite a few against a team that’s packing it in with some really good athletes in the back.”

Maranacook (5-0-1) put the finishing touches on the victory in the 75th minute, when Root — who finished with a goal and an assist — planted a one-time finish over the head of Erskine goalkeeper David McGraw (14 saves).

Neither team generated many chances off the attack in the first half, as Erskine was content to let the Black Bears possess the ball in the midfield while dropping nine men back into a defensive posture. Maranacook generated only the one goal in the first 40 minutes, despite a 10-1 shots advantage during that time. Most of those shots, though, came from well outside of any dangerous areas.

In the second half, Erskine coach Phil Hubbard deployed a second striker to try and generate something off the counter attack. While the Eagles (4-2-1) generated a few more chances for themselves, they also left space for Maranacook to operate.

That’s where Wilkinson, McPhedran and others were able to roam and make the Eagle backs vulnerable.

“It opens us up a little bit more,” Hubbard said of the shift in formation. “They really didn’t have many opportunities in the first half. They had more in the second half, but we had more, too. We didn’t have a ton, but we did have more. That’s where you change and you take chances.

“I am pleased with our effort. We’re a very young team. That’s the outcome I look at as a positive, our young players gave us some really good minutes off the bench and kept us in it.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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