READFIELD — A bit of recent history helped the top-seeded Maranacook boys soccer team get its playoff run started on the right foot Tuesday night.

The Black Bears once again cracked a five-back system, getting goals from five different players in the second half en route to a 5-0 win over No. 9 Freeport in a Class B South quarterfinal at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. Maranacook (14-0-1) advances to the regional semifinals Saturday against No. 4 York.

Sam Wilkinson, Hayden Elwell, Ryan Roy, Dennis Chiappetta and Connor Stockwell scored against the Falcons (7-8-1), who, like Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference foes Erskine and Leavitt, dropped as many as 10 men into the defensive third of the pitch.

While the Freeport formation, which alternated between different versions of a 5-4-1 and 4-5-1, kept Maranacook off the scoreboard in the first half, it could only delay the inevitable.

“They played just like Erskine,” Maranacook senior midfielder Hayden Elwell said. “They packed it in the back and tried to kick it out, trying to go to PKs, obviously.”

After a first 40 minutes in which the Black Bears generated 11 shots but no goals, the penalty kick tiebreaker following an overtime became less likely an option for the visitors when Wilkinson scored in the 48th minute, heading home Nathan Delmar’s cross from the left side.

“We had opportunities in the first half, but we just didn’t finish,” Maranacook head coach Don Beckwith said. “We knew they’d come again. We just had to break down the wall.”

“We have players all over the field and even on the bench,” Elwell said. “We can sub on a whole 11 and still play perfectly well as a team. We’ve improved (on the attack) as the season’s gone on. We’re playing more as a team, passing more as a team.”

That showed late in the second half, when Maranacook erupted for four goals in an 11-minute span. Elwell finished off a corner kick service fom Thomas Dupuy in the 69th minute, and Roy picked out a one-time half-volley four minutes later for a 3-0 lead.

Goals from Chiappetta (75th minute) and Stockwell (80th) weren’t even needed — not for a Black Bear defense that’s only allowed two goals all season.

“We’re so used to having pressure back there, but we’ve just got to stay organized and know where everyone is,” junior center back Jackson McPhedran said. “It was a little sketchy in the first half, but we kind of broke them down in the second half and did what we needed to do.”

The Black Bears conceded just four shots in the match, only two of which called upon goalkeeper Justin Freeman to make saves. It was an especially impressive effort given that Maranacook was without an injured Bryan Riley, who had started all 14 previous games this season as the second center back. Sophomore Duncan Rogers stepped in to fill the void.

“Three shots (on goal) is kind of our average,” Beckwith said of the few chances Maranacook allowed. “If we continue to do that, we’ll be all right defensively. … Duncan did a really good job, and I thought we did a good job defensively.”

The entire night, in many ways, was an exercise in patience. Particularly after the first half, when Elwell alone had three beautiful opportunties that produced nothing, the Black Bears drew on what they’d learned in previous games against defensively-oriented formations.

“It definitely helped us but we won’t see that much now, because we’ll be facing better teams,” Beckwith said. “They’re going to come out after us. That might actually help us.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.