WATERVILLE — Sophie Webb can add another line to her resume.

The Waterville junior striker scored five goals for the first time in her career on Wednesday, leading the No. 2 Purple Panthers to an impressive 8-1 win over No. 7 Nokomis in a Class B North girls soccer quarterfinal match at Webber Field. Anika Elias added two goals and two assists for Waterville, which will host No. 3 Oceanside in the semifinals Saturday at 11 a.m.

It was the 15th straight win for the unbeaten Purple Panthers (15-0-0), who haven’t lost since falling in the regional quarterfinals last season.

“I’ve never done that before,” Webb said of her five-goal afternoon. “I think we really played well as a team and found the open passes and were the first to the ball whenever we could be.”

For Nokomis (9-4-3), the loss brought to an end a surprising season that opened and closed with losses to Waterville. Three of the four losses for the Warriors — who enjoyed a 7-1-3 stretch late in the year — came at the hands of the Purple Panthers.

If nothing else, Waterville was remarkably efficient against Nokomis. The Panthers generated just three shots on goal over the first 20 minutes of Wednesday’s match, but they scored on each of them. Webb scored in the eighth minute and again in the 18th minute, sandwiching the two goals around Elias’ in the 13th minute.

All three goals were one-on-one finishes against Warrior goalkeeper Aren Herrick (10 saves), borne of wonderful midfield distribution by Elias and Mackenzie St. Pierre to spring attackers free into the 18-yard box.

“We have really strong people in the middle, and the defense is important to that, too,” Elias said. “We get the ball, and we know where to put it.”

Nokomis pulled one back in the 25th minute when Ashey Connor crashed into traffic to poke home the rebound of a long Austin Taylor drive that was mishandled by Waterville keeer TT Brandon.

The momentum was short-lived, however, as Webb capped her first-half hat trick in the 36th minute and then punched in two more in the first five minutes of the second half for a 6-1 lead.

Against a Waterville team that surrendered just two goals in total through the regular season, chasing a five-goal deficit was simply too much to ask of the Warriors.

“Fundamentally, they’re perfect. Tactically, they’re perfect. Their through balls were spot on today,” Nokomis head coach Todd Pelton said. “In the first half, I think we played as well as anyone has against them this season…. Scoring a goal on a team that’s only allowed three goals all season, it’s ‘small feats’ but no one expected us to be here.”

The eight goals didn’t surprise the Panthers, who have now scored six or more goals in nine games this season.

“We’re used to it,” Elias said. “Not to toot our own horn, but we’re used to scoring goals because we work so well as a team.”

Webb was so dominant that it was impossible to characterize her goal-scoring with any one adjective. Certainly, the Waterville counter-attack made nice work of a three-forward system that spread the three Nokomis backs as wide as possible and then attacked with speed down the middle, but Webb scored off her right foot, off her head, with chips and flicks and in virtually every other manner you could think off — all within six yards of goal.

“I do whatever I can, but I just get great service from the midfield,” Webb said. “We’re pretty good (at counter-attacking), but we’ve definitely gotten better at it as the season has gone on.”

“Their speed is just a little beyond where we’re at,” said Pelton, who took the Nokomis post late in the offseason. “We’re not going to put eight behind the ball and not even try to play, so sometimes the best way to play is just to go out at them, and today it wasn’t the best strategy. You can put that on me, but next year will be a different story when we have a whole year to train and prepare and get these girls ready.”

Sadie Garling scored in the 57th miute and Elias added a spot kick in the 59th minute to complete the scoring onslaught.

“It’s really good,” Elias said of opening the playoffs with such an emphatic victory. “I’m happy everyone came out as one, and we all won as one today.”

Now, Waterville will play Oceanside for a third time this season after winning 3-0 on the road during the regular season and beating them in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game, 2-1, last week.

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.