After winning 29 out of 35 games across the previous two seasons, the Waterville girls soccer team has a much different look this fall.

After a 3-2 overtime loss to Maranacook on Tuesday, the Purple Panthers are just 4-5-0 — 11th in the 21-team Class B North region and fewer than eight Heal points clear of mising the playoffs entirely.

Waterville’s season results thus far indicate a young team still trying to figure out how to be as dominant as the program once was. Seven of the team’s nine games this season have been decided by three or more goals, and an eighth was a season-opening 2-0 shutout loss at the hands of Erskine Academy.

“We’re young. To be honest, we haven’t had that many close games,” Waterville coach Mark Serdjenian said. “We’ve either won by a considerable amount or lost. (The Maranacook game) was one of the few good battles we’ve had with a really good team.”

There are signs the Panthers could be a difficult postseasn out. Three times they’ve scored five goals in a game — against Mount View, Nokomis and Belfast — but they’ve also been shutout three times.

More than the loss to the Black Bears, the midweek contest also provided a microcosm of the season to date. There are new faces througout the Starting XI adapting to new responsibilities on the go, including center backs Lilyan Foster and Emme Ayers, as well as Paige St Pierre and Sadie Garling in the attack.

At times against Maranacook, the Panthers looked downright dominant. At other times, they looked inexperienced.

Either way, Serdjenian said, the effort is there.

“I thought we moved the ball well through the midfield (against Maranacook),” he said. “Despite the fact that we might not be as deep as them, I thought we were beating them to the ball in the second half.”

• • •

Monmouth’s Alicen Burnham is growing up right before the Mustangs’ collective eyes.

The sophomore forward’s hat trick last weekend on the road against Mt. Abram was proof that Burnham has graduated from a secondary scoring role into a go-to player for Monmouth coach Gary Trafton.

“That was her best game of the year,” Trafton said of Burnham’s three-goal, two-assist effort. “She had a really nice game and she had some nice shots on goal instead of always going over (the crossbar). She’s really working on keeping those shots (low).”

Trafton especially liked Burnham’s assist on Fletcher’s final goal of the game, a perfectly-threaded through ball that split a pair of defenders inside the penalty area.

“That one she slipped to Audrey coming down, she pushed across and that was perfect,” Trafton said. “We haven’t practiced a lot of that, but that’s what we have to do. Teams are really loading up in there on us.”

Burnham credited part of her success this season for Monmouth (7-1-0) to simply being a year older.

“We’ve been working really hard on keeping my composure,” Burnham said. “Last year, I’d get really startled and I’d try to always boot the ball as hard as I could. This year, I’m just trying to keep it easy and do nice balls to the corner of the net while keeping my composure. I think it’s really helped.”

• • •

Last season, Hall-Dale’s camapaign ended with a narrow preliminary-round loss to Maranacook, denying the Bulldogs the “right” to face juggernaut Monmouth in the Class C South quarterfinals.

Things have changed quite a bit in 2018.

With a win over Boothbay Wednesday, Hall-Dale improved to 7-2-0 and leapt to the top of the Heal point standings in the region. Right below the Bulldogs? Monmouth and Maranacook, in second and third, respectively — but don’t expect Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins to let his team get ahead of itself, despite its current four-game winning streak.

“It’s easy to get sucked up into where you’re at, but if you get too far ahead of yourself, you become your worst opponent,” Cousins said, noting his team is still relatively young with 11 freshmen on the roster. “Our success is about our performance, not the results. If your performances are good, the outcomes will take care of themselves. They’ve bought into that.”

Cousins said the biggest thing the team has been able to do is break the game into four “boxes,” with the Bulldogs understanding each game within the game.

“You start by slowing people’s possession and attack and wining the ball there, and that’s the first box,” Cousins said. “We try and maintain possession once we have it, box two, and then we create scoring opportunities, which is the third box. The fourth box is once we create those opportunities, we finish them.”

It’s simple, but it works.

“What I’m pleased about is the work ethic of the girls,” Cousins said. “Day in, day out, they’re really taking each game and practice one at a time. It’s easy to say you’re going to do that but then get sucked up into all of the other stuff and lose focus.”

• • •

Notes: The first season for a standalone girls program at Temple has gone exceedingly well. The Bereans are 7-1-0, with their only loss against perennial Class D power Richmond in the their season opener. Hannah Hubbard has seven goals in the team’s last two games … Winslow has responded well to its only loss of the season — on the road against Class A Bangor on Sept. 18 — by winning three straight by a combined score of 22-3 over Lawrence, Erskine and Mount View. … Skowhegan has won three of its last four games to improve to 4-3-1 and move all the way up to sixth in the current Class A North standings. The Indians, who have not qualified for the playoffs in at least eight years, face a stiff test at Messalonskee (7-1-0) Thursday. … Maranacook is one of just three unbeaten teams in Class C statewide and the only team without a loss in Class C South — while playing a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference schedule comprised exclusively of Class A and Class B teams.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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