The Waterville girls soccer team celebrates after beating Cape Elizabeth 1-0 in overtime of the 2014 Class B state championship game. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

The Waterville girls soccer team entered the 2014 season with heavy expectations.

The Purple Panthers fell 2-1 to Cape Elizabeth in the 2013 Class B final, a game that was decided on penalty kicks.

With most of the roster returning, and a veteran-heavy squad, it was expected that Waterville would again represent Eastern Class B in the state title game. The Purple Panthers would meet those expectations and then some, gaining their revenge with a 1-0 overtime victory over the Capers for the state title, becoming the first Eastern B team in 14 years to win the Gold Ball.

“We had some really good players,” said Waterville midfielder Lydia Roy, whose team went 18-0-0. “Each person brought their own finesse to the game. Each person had their own strength. Together, I think that made us the team that we were.”

Not only was Waterville sound offensively — senior Pilar Elias (37 goals, 24 assists) paired with Roy and Sarah Shoulta — but it was just as strong on the defensive end. Jordan Jabar and Morgann Tortorella anchored the defense, while goalkeeper Gabi Martin also turned in big performances. Of Waterville’s 18 wins, 16 were shutouts.

“As a team, our goal from the start was to get back to states,” Jabar said. “Losing, especially in (penalty kicks) that previous year, it was tough. To work hard all season, it was disappointing. That was kind of our main goal and our focus, to make it back to states. We just took it one game of the time. That was kind of the thing in the back of our heads, our driving force for all of our practices, our conditioning, everything, was getting back to that place.”

“I think we came into the year feeling disappointed about the way (2013) had turned out, realizing that talent-wise, fitness and strength, we could play with (Cape Elizabeth),” former Waterville head coach Ian Wilson added. “But we needed to gain poise, maturity and confidence to be able to overcome them.”

But aside from its play on the field, Waterville also managed to push forward through adversity. Wilson recalled an October game the Purple Panthers played against Maranacook shortly after the funeral for Messalonskee student Cassidy Charette, who had tragically died in a hayride accident. Many Waterville players knew Charette. The players were able to fight through their emotions to come on top with a win over the Black Bears.

“We had to play after some kids went to that funeral,” Wilson said. “I remember, they had remarkable ability to overcome that emotional drain. And I remember the Maranacook game was very close. You come from a funeral — those kids were very close (with Charette) — and those kids were just emotionally at a real low. But they found a way to summon the courage and energy to win that game. And Maranacook was a good team. That was sort of one of the moments where, I felt the only thing we needed that year was more poise, courage and strength to face a tough team in a tough moment. That was really probably one of the hardest things that team did all year, was to win that game… For them to summon that courage and energy was a remarkable achievement.”

Waterville entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Eastern B. It cruised past Caribou (7-1) in the quarterfinals and Camden Hills (4-1) in the semifinals. The Purple Panthers battled to a 1-0 win over Hermon for the regional title on an early by Sarah Shoulta goal.

Pilar Elias was Waterville’s leading scorer during the 2014 season, notching 37 goals and adding 24 assists. Morning Sentinel file photo

“The biggest (strength) to me, and I tell everyone this to this day, is the way we passed,” Jabar said. “You could see it in all of our games, we just had control of the games, and I think that was the biggest thing in our games. Because we were so well rounded, we could move the ball in places where we wanted to.”

Waterville’s road to the Gold Ball would once again have to go through Cape Elizabeth, which edged Greely 2-1 in penalty kicks for the Western B title.

“We had all been thinking about it for a year straight, about getting redemption and revenge and every other possible feeling that you would get from beating them,” Roy said.

The Purple Panthers were excited to have another crack at the Capers, but in order to calm the team’s nerves, Wilson used visualization techniques for relaxation.

“One of the things I’ve always believed is that a relaxed player and a confident player and a player that is feeling really good, is going to play better,” Wilson said. “I don’t believe players need to be berated or feel any lack of confidence before walking into a game. What we used to do was walk through some relaxation stuff. And then we would try to get them to think really positive thoughts. We used to visualize a lot, being on a warm, sunny beach, with your toes in the sand, being as relaxed as you can be. And then just playing the game in that calm, happy, relaxed frame of mind. I wanted them feeling really sort of free and confident, just in a good mood. If they were nervous, tight or hesitant going into the game, it wasn’t a good place to be.”

Cape Elizabeth controlled the first half of the game, but Waterville started to take over in the second half.

“A lot of those girls ran track for me,” Wilson said. “They were very strong, very fit. In the second half, Cape began to tire. We were able to take control in the second half and generate more and more (scoring opportunities), and Cape was finding it harder and harder to generate opportunities, and (Cape) was just starting to look exhausted.”

The Waterville girls soccer team celebrates after beating Cape Elizabeth 1-0 in overtime of the 2014 Class B state championship game. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

The teams were scoreless after regulation and through most of overtime before things quickly changed.

With just over 38 seconds remaining, Roy buried a shot nearly 30 yards away from the net to give the program its seventh state title and first since 2008.

“As the ball came across, I just thought ‘You know what? Why not just take a shot.’ I was a little bit off balance, so when I shot the ball, I didn’t see anything, and I kind of fell. I didn’t know that it went in until basically half the team was jumping on top of me, screaming.”

Six years later, the achievement is a fond memory for Waterville players. In Roy’s case, it’s also a fond memory for Waterville fans.

“It’s too funny, because sometimes I’ll run into people, or I’ll meet people, and they’ll go ‘Oh my gosh, you’re the one that scored the goal,'” Roy said. “I just have to think back and think ‘Yeah, we were OK.’ But really, yeah, we were that good, which not many people can say. I was really fortunate to be on that team that year.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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