WATERVILLE — The Waterville Senior High School boys soccer team played from behind in Saturday night’s Class B North preliminary round game, almost from the start of the game. Foxcroft Academy scored just 48 seconds in, and the Purple Panthers didn’t regroup well, at least not immediately.

Waterville spotted the Ponies three goals in the first half, but rallied in the second, and had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. Foxcroft keeper Mikel Alvarez made a diving save of Jay Brock’s header off a Kaden Works free kick as time expired, giving the Ponies a 3-2 win.

“Our goalie, it’s a blessing having him,” Foxcroft midfielder Danny Cornett said.

“I actually thought Jay’s header was going in. It was a beautiful ball by Kaden. It was exactly like we practiced it. Jay put it right in the bottom corner and the keeper made a really nice save,” Waterville coach Kerry Serdjenian said.

No. 10 Foxcroft, now 8-7, will face No. 2 Winslow (11-2-1) in the regional quarterfinals. No. 7 Waterville ends the season at 7-8-0.

The Ponies felt good even before they stepped on the Thomas College field, senior captain Rico Ayala said.

“The bus ride, the bus ride was the most crucial part. We were on the bus, we were playing music. We were all having fun together,” Ayala said. “We came out hard. Even in warmups, we were having really good passes, really good communication. Everything was perfect.”

Shadane Hamilton’s goal on a shot from the right corner staked the Ponies to a 1-0 lead just 48 seconds in.

“Probably the worst first minute of a game you could have, I’d say. That (Hamilton’s) a special player,” Serdjenian said.

Michael Wang’s goal with 15:26 to play in the first half pushed Foxcroft’s lead to 2-0, and Jacob Reed’s goal on a long arcing shot just out of the reach of Waterville keeper Zack Menoudarakos with 9:53 left in the half made it 3-0.

“I could see us all coming together and playing as a team. We were very unified, even though they had a couple of shots. Our team unity was the best I’ve ever seen today. I’m proud of every single one of these boys on the field,” Ayala said.

Waterville played the entire game without starting center back Taylor Bielecki, who was out of town due to an academic commitment, and leading scorer Chris Williams was unable to finish the first half with an illness. For the second half, Serdjenian moved Menoudarakos from goal to the forward line, putting Aidan Tavares in net. The move paid off quickly, as Menoudarakos scored with 31:01 left in the game, taking a pass from Kaden Works.

“Losing 3-0 or 100-0 is no different. Zack’s one of our best players in the field. They scored that nice first goal. We just went with a more offensive lineup in the second half. We got what we wanted out of it, we just fell a little short,” Serdjenian said. “(Bielecki) played 80 minutes of all 14 games center back. We just had to get through today to advance and have our whole team back.”

The Panthers cut Foxcroft’s lead to one, 3-2, on a Max McGadney goal with 11:44 to play. McGadney beat a defender to a loose ball and broke in on Alvarez, firing a low shot past the Ponies keeper. The goal strengthened Foxcroft’s defensive resolve, Cornett said.

“We can’t let that happen again. It was a great team goal. Defense, let’s not let it happen again,” Cornett said.

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