WATERVILLE — After winning a regional title last fall, it’s hard to believe the Winslow boys soccer program has much left to prove — save for a state championship.

No. 4 Winslow took a giant step toward that goal in a 1-0 victory over No. 8 Erskine in a Class B North semifinal game Saturday afternoon at Thomas College.

The Black Raiders also showed that they are much more than the explosive attacking side they are best known as.

“I didn’t expect either team to score much,” Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe said. “We knew it was going to be tough. We wanted to eliminate the middle (of the field) and I think we did a good job of that.”

Winslow made senior Jake Warn’s goal just seven minutes in stand up, stroking midnight on the Eagles’ Cinderella run through the tournament at Smith Field. Through to the regional finals, the Black Raiders (14-3-0) await the winner of the other semifinal Monday between No. 3 Washington and No. 6 Hermon.

Erskine finished 11-5-1 after having bounced top-seed Presque Isle on Wednesday.

Trailing by a goal in the second half, Erskine stepped out of its defensive shell and produced opportunities through possession, though the Eagles had difficulty turning that possession into targeted chances. Of its five second-half shots, only one tested Winslow goalkeeper Jake Lapierre (five saves).

Credit was due to Winslow’s center back pairing of seniors Jack Morneault and Mike Wildes, who had cover in the midfield triangle of Bryce Hillier, Daylon Carpenter and Isaac Burbank in front of them. Morneault’s impact was felt inside the 18-yard box, where the 6-footer won aerial challenges and turned Erskine strikers away from goal with body positioning.

Morneault’s ability was on display in the 67th minute, when he stopped a threatening Erskine counter-attack with a tactical foul along the sideline before retreating to head Eagle midfielder Austin Dunn’s service out of play to stop the bid.

“They’re a good team, a good offensive team,” Morneault said. “We were always talking, always communicating. That’s the big key to good defense.”

Winslow was bailed out a minute later, when a weak corner kick clearance landed on the foot of Erskine’s Spenser Grasse — whose lob shot rattled off the crossbar behind Lapierre.

“That one really scared us,” Morneault said.

“Nerves might have played a role both ways,” Wolfe added. “Once we had a lead and it started to get later and later, I don’t think either team was playing within themselves. It was just adrenaline at that point. It was just hold on (for us), and they were going with everything they had.”

Yet Winslow rarely found itself in anxious moments. A good run and driven cross from Sage Hapgood-Belanger just past the hour mark was well wide of the right post without a runner on the spot to track it down.

“Winslow’s a very quick team,” Larrabee said. “In order to transition from defense to offense, we needed to be that quick as well. I think we were maybe defensive-focused on finding marks, and that hesitation going forward makes it difficult to find those runs.”

Where Erskine showed some efficiency on its seldom counter opportunities in the first half, with all four of its shots in the first 40 minutes on target, that effectiveness was much more difficult to find after the break.

A great start to the matinée for Winslow had Erskine on its heels, and Warn made sure to capitalize on some mismarking in the attacking third. Isaac Lambrecht’s low cross from the left corner found no interference — bounding softly past a pair of Eagle defenders — and Warn collected it with plenty of time to turn and fire clinically inside the right post.

In the 18th minute, Winslow nearly doubled the lead when Lambrecht and Matt Phillips linked up in tight space along the right flank. The play freed Lambrecht for a skipping shot that Erskine goalkeeper David McGraw (five saves) turned aside with a diving, one-handed save.

“This was going to a be low-scoring, 1-0 or 2-1 game,” Larrabee said. “Mentally we were prepared for that.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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