SOUTH CHINA — The best compliment offered Erskine Academy was that the Eagles beat Maranacook at the Black Bears’ own game.

“I agree,” Maranacook boys soccer coach Don Beckwith said following his team’s 5-1 loss to Erskine on Tuesday. “I agree completely. One hundred percent.”

The Eagles improved to 2-0-0 on the young season, including a 4-0 blanking at Gardiner last Friday, using cornerstone defending, physicality and pressure all over the pitch. Andrew Perry, Sam Boynton, Brady Kirkpatrick, Holden McKenney and Aidan Larrabee had the goals for Erskine, which scored five unanswered goals.

It was the first time a Maranacook (0-1-0) side allowed five goals in a game in the 18 years Beckwith has patrolled the Black Bear sidelines.

“It felt great,” Larrabee said. “We have a lot of great games with Maranacook traditionally, and this is a great start to the season.”

Though Erskine dominated the possession percentage, Maranacook struck with a quick counter attack only seven minutes in to take a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Gabe Corey ran onto a long clear, and got two whacks inside the area to stake the visitors out to an unlikely lead.

The Eagles got the Perry and Boynton goals just two minutes apart late in the opening period to take a 2-1 lead into the break.

Erskine never looked back.

Kirkpatrick got on the end of Perry’s cross in the 44th minute to all but put it away.

The Black Bears didn’t attempt a shot on goal in the second half until nearly 20 full minutes had elapsed — and even that was a non-threatening roller from distance that trickled well wide of the goal frame. There were 30 seconds showing on the clock by the time Maranacook forced Erskine keeper Timber Parlin (4 saves) into action in the second half.

In all, the Eagles attempted 20 shots — eight of them on target — to Maranacook’s five.

“This has been building for years, and we have a fantastic team. It’s going to be quite a ride,” said Boynton, who was tasked with marking Corey in the middle of the park and effectively limiting the sophomore striker’s activity with the ball at his feet. “We knew we had to be aggressive, but once we got a few in we could keep it going. Momentum was on our side.”

“The mental aspect of this is huge,” Erskine head coach Carrie Larrabee said. “It’s not just a 2-1 win, but 5-1 and we opened up the floodgates. Five different kids scored, it gives us five different options. It creates so many different threats and gives us confidence moving forward.”

Maranacook was without three starters, including one between the sticks, leaving an already young and inexperienced roster depleted.

“But you know what? That’s a poor excuse, at best,” Beckwith said. “We found out when we got off the bus that two of them couldn’t play. I say that tongue-in-cheek, because they had a couple of kids missing, too. We don’t have the depth. We have a lot of youth.

“I never expected this, no. We’re Maranacook. We’ll get better. We will get better, I promise you that.”

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