LEWISTON — If the Maranacook girls soccer team wins a second consecutive regional championship Tuesday, Anna Erb will be the answer to a trivia question someday.

The final scoreline will show that the sophomore made five saves to keep a clean sheet and backbone the No. 4 Black Bears to a 1-0 win over previously undefeated top seed Monmouth in a Class C South semifinal at Don Roux Field last Saturday. What the box score won’t reveal, however, is that Erb was called into action less than 24 hours before the match to replace senior starter Skyeler Webb as goalkeeper in one of the most pressure-packed situations Maranacook has faced all season.

To say Erb was nervous would be an understatement.

“I think the nerves before the game were the hardest part for me,” said Erb, who was making her first career varsity start between the sticks. “I think with the support of my team, those nerves kind of went away. Surprisingly, once that (opening) whistle blew, I guess I kind of cooled down and realized it was OK, and we were going to be all right.”

Last Wednesday, Webb injured her shoulder during the team’s practice session. On Thursday, she said, the pain was pretty severe and by Friday afternoon the keeper who’d played every game this season in the nets knew she’d be unable to play.

It was a difficult blow for the Black Bears, and not only because Webb had opened the playoffs with consecutive shutouts to give her seven in 16 starts this season. By taking Webb off the field, it forced Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson to move Erb from the stopper role which she’d grown into as the season progressed. And with Erb able to perform adeptly in the team’s defensive back four, it gave Magnusson the freedom to move other players around the pitch to create different looks — including Evelyn St. Germain, who has enjoyed opportunities up front to create goal-scoring chances.

All of that flexibility was seemingly out the window with Webb’s sore shoulder.

“Our team, we’ve been through a lot before,” Erb said of Maranacook, which won the program’s first regional championship last fall. “We know how to handle stress, and we know how to handle pressure. We support each other a lot, and talking to each other and giving extra support and an extra ounce of confidence really gets us through.”

Erb was at her best in the 69th minute against Monmouth, with Maranacook having taken the one-goal lead only four minutes earlier. She got her hand on a vicious cross from Mustang Alicen Burnham, ensuring an unmarked Mya Sirois wouldn’t punch home the equalizer after crashing the far post.

With the performance from Erb, who said her last goalkeeping action was a couple of appearances in summer league games, Magnusson learned something about his side.

“You’ve got an All-State goalie that gets hurt three days before the game, and a number of people stepped up,” Magnusson said. “I think that shows a lot of mental toughness.”

“We’re a tight-knit team,” Webb said. “We just bounce back after losses and anything that happens, and we know each other really well.”

But the day was was not lost for Webb. She found a way to contribute with a brief second-half runout as an outside midfielder, providing a needed respite for her teammates’ weary legs in a match where the ball spent more time bounding back and forth and from side to side than it did at any one team’s feet for prolonged stretches.

Nobody was happier for Erb than Webb, who has been a mainstay in the Maranacook nets since her freshman season.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the game (early in the week). My main focus was on recovery,” said Webb, who is expected to be healthy enough to return to her starting spot in the final against Traip Academy on Tuesday. “I just had to regroup and refocus, that maybe I could be a field player and help my teammates out somewhere else. It felt really good. It was really fun to mix it up, actually.

“But that’s OK. Anna Erb did fantastic in goal. It was great.”

 

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.