WATERVILLE, Maine — Waterville High School freshman striker Fotini Shanos wanted an opportunity to prove to coach Ian Wilson that she deserved more playing time.
She got that opportunity against Hampden Academy on Tuesday when junior Jayme Saulter took ill, and she certainly made the most of it.
Shanos had a hat trick and sophomore striker Sarah Shoulta had a goal and two assists to lead Waterville to a 4-1 triumph.
Waterville (6-3-3) avenged a 2-1 loss on Sept. 7.
“I feel like I proved myself,” said Shanos, who had seen limited varsity playing time.
“It didn’t stun me. She’s a scoring machine in practice,” said Wilson.
The teams swapped goals in a first half that was dominated by the Broncos (9-3).
But the Broncos couldn’t parlay that dominance into a lead as Waterville freshman goalie Gabi Martin was stellar, and the Broncos made her job easier by missing the net frequently.
The Panthers turned the tables on the Broncos in the second half and scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half to break the game open and gain valuable momentum.
Shanos, who had scored Waterville’s first-half goal, notched the game-winner just 55 seconds into the second half off a perfectly placed corner kick by Morgan Pellerin.
Pellerin’s corner spilled off the fingers of HA goalie Sami Bowler, and Shanos simply had to head it into the exposed net from 4 yards out.
Just 4:05 later, the speedy Shoulta broke free between a pair of Bronco defenders onto a precise pass from Morgann Tortorella before beating Bowler with a 12-yard shot past the goalie’s left.
“I just had to run on to [Tortorella’s pass] and I shot it far post,” said Shoulta, who spied Bowler coming off her line and calmly tucked a right-footed shot past the helpless goalie.
Shanos capped her hat trick with 19:21 remaining when Shoulta’s cross from the right flank caused confusion in the penalty area, Shanos wheeled around and swept the ball past Bowler from 8 yards out.
Shanos had given the Panthers a 1-0 lead against the run of play when she roofed the rebound of a Shoulta shot past Bowler. Shoulta’s one-hopper from 18 yards out went off Bowler’s chest and into the path of Shanos.
Hampden scored a deserving equalizer with 11:36 left in the half when Laura Marquis took a pass from Brianna Cota at the top of the penalty area and curled her 16-yard shot into the corner to the left of Martin.
That goal came after some near misses.
Marquis shot wide on a partial breakaway moments after Shanos’ goal, Elise Arsenault hooked a left-footed 14-yard shot beyond the far post with Martin hopelessly out of position after a scramble and Martin raced to the top of the penalty area to smother a clean breakaway by Marquis off a Kristi Reichel through ball. Marquis was unable to elevate the ball.
Shoulta said Wilson gave the team a motivational talk at halftime and it paid off.
“We stepped it up in the second half,” said Waterville outside back Mel Bureau, who headlined the defensive performance along with Marisa Jolicoeur and Cody Veilleux.
“The girls deserve all the credit,” said Wilson. “We were lucky to be tied at halftime. We didn’t work hard in the first half. Hampden dominated us.”
He said he asked his players at halftime how they wanted to be defined as a team and they responded.
The Panthers limited Hampden to four long-range shots in the second half and Martin handled all of them them comfortably. They also won the majority of 50-50 balls after Hampden had a decisive edge in the first half. Waterville’s superior depth was also a factor in the second half.
Martin finished with seven saves on 17 shots, while Bowler had five on 15 shots.
“We beat ourselves,” said Hampden Academy coach Gina De Santis. “Waterville played better in the second half, but we didn’t show up. We definitely had opportunities in the first half.”