WATERVILLE — One of central Maine’s most heated rivalries looks a bit different this fall.

Gone is Carly Warn. Gone, too, is Sadie Garling. Sister acts like the St. Pierres and the Doughtys, they’ve also moved on. Graduation rates in recent seasons haven’t been kind to either the Waterville or Winslow girls soccer programs, robbing the rivalry of some of the stalwarts who turned the matches into battles of will.

The 1-1 draw played Saturday between the Purple Panthers and the Black Raiders illustrated the feud is in its current state, with precious few upperclassmen with deep roots in the rivalry and too many fresh new first-year faces to count.

Seven of the 20 outfield players in the starting lineups at Webber Field were freshmen.

“It’s been challenging, but a fun time. They’re young,” said Winslow coach Lacey Smith. “The more we can get on the ball and create a good team culture, it’s the start of being on the same page every single training and every single game. That’s where it starts.”

Winslow’s Kyrie Meak opened the scoring in the 16th minute, and Waterville equalized through Maeve Wilcox 18 minutes later to account for the contest’s only breakthroughs. Both are freshmen.

Senior goalkeeper Phoenix Gatlin needed only three saves to preserve the deadlock for the Purple Panthers (3-0-1), none of them better than the stop she made in the 58th minute. Gatlin leapt off her line to make an aggressive diving save on Black Raider Allie Kimball after Bethanny Blakely split the Waterville back line with a pass straight through its heart to spring Kimball free into the 18-yard box.

“If you saw us in the preseason, we were even more raw,” Waterville coach Mark Serdjenian said. “(We’ve worked on) two things, which are diametrically opposed. Defensive cohesion and getting that unit together, which has gone pretty well … and then becoming dangerous after that. We’re young at both ends, but once we get organized in the back we have to connect to the attack.”

“We have a young team, but it was great to see us work really well together.,” Gatlin said. “It’s a tie, but we worked hard for that tie.

“It’s a bit different (this year), they’re all really young. But it’s good to be able to use the inexperience to build better skill and team building on the field.”

Watervillle had its chance to break the tie late in regulation time. Following a more than 6-minute delay for an injured Winslow player, play resumed with freshman Sadie Williams’ free kick from 20 yards. Williams, who assisted on the Wilcox goal, laced her shot off the crossbar.

Youth may have been on display, with many of the names new to the rivalry, but the match still contained the trademark shifts in momentum observers have come to expect from a Waterville-Winslow fixture.

The Black Raiders (3-1-1) were on the front foot from the opening whistle until Meak’s opener, while the Panthers regrouped soon after and carried play into the halftime break and for several minutes after the teams lined up for the second half kick-off.

Winslow, to its credit, rebounded from the scare of Williams’ late game-winning bid to enjoy the better part of the action through the final whistle on 90 minutes.

“It all goes back to creating the culture and creating the belief we’re capable of coming out and competing against any team,” said Smith, who had only a few substitutes available to her. “To still give that 100 percent effort, even in the toughest of times, we worked together to do that. We have a small bench and we were tired. The lapses in the game play are fatigue setting in, but refocusing comes from our leadership and our team coming together and believing.”

“Over the summer, we had a lot of losses,” Gatlin said of Waterville. “We hadn’t played with each other at all and we working on building relationships off the field, as well. We’ve grown so much.”

Junior Isabella Fleury made five saves for Winslow.

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