READFIELD — Don Beckwith loves to remind his players things don’t always have to be pretty, they just have to work. In the second half Wednesday night, the Black Bears were effective on both fronts.

Maranacook busted out of a nervy early effort with four second-half goals, and the third-seeded Black Bears handled No. 6 Winthrop 4-0 in a Class C South boys soccer quarterfinal at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. The two-time defending state champion will meet No. 2 Hall-Dale in the regional semifinals Friday afternoon at Lewiston High School.

Senior Richard Down scored a pair of goals for Maranacook (13-2-0), while sophomore Wyatt Lambert and senior Aric Belanger also found the back of the net.

“We’ve been working on just getting the ball across in practice,” said Maranacook’s Mitchell Root, who assisted on three of the goals. “We want to cross the ball as soon as we can and hope for the best. It turned out good today.”

The Black Bears carried much of the play through the opening 40 minutes but could not score in a half dictated by fluctuating periods of unnecessary panic, individual play and lack of urgency. When the second half opened, so did the game for the Black Bears, who scored three times after the hour mark.

“I think we ran out of gas a little bit, probably around the 60-minute mark,” said first-year Winthrop coach Jon Baehr, whose Ramblers finished at 10-5-0. “That’s kind of been our goal to get past that 60-minute mark. Against great programs like Maranacook…that’s kind of where we’ve always hit that brick wall.”

All of that uneven play from Maranacook seemed to vanish late on, as the Black Bears looked like a seasoned soccer side once they started finding lanes to goal. Down’s first goal, at 52 minutes, was a brilliant turn and strike, and Lambert’s goal 10 minutes later came off a truly world-class volley from 15 yards.

The two goals were as nice as any Maranacook has scored all season long.

“We played better defensively and moved the ball outside more,” Lambert said. “That gave us more opportunities on goal, for sure. I think we just weren’t working hard enough (in the first half).”

While Beckwith admired his team’s final touch on the goals it did score, he was less than pleased with the tries producing nothing. The Black Bears took 26 cracks at goal for the night, but only managed to get five of those on frame in the first half.

Five first-half corner kicks didn’t net a single shot on target, and four more in the second half yielded just one.

“They’ve got to come sooner, and with less effort,” Beckwith said. “We’ve got to keep our composure. We’ve been here before. This should be old stuff to us, but we didn’t look like that tonight.

“I didn’t think we were very bright soccer players tonight. We’re good soccer players, but we weren’t very good from the neck up. We got away with it tonight.”

Belanger took a Root pass culminating from a nice little piece of combination play off the right wing begun by Tim Worster, building a 3-0 Maranacook lead in the 70th minute. Down finished off his brace two minutes from the end.

Winthrop goalkeeper Jake Smith finished with nine saves.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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