SOUTH PORTLAND — It wasn’t a pretty game, at least not until the end.

South Portland and Sanford opened their boys’ soccer season with a physical battle that wasn’t decided until the second overtime, when Anthony Perron’s goal on a header gave South Portland a 1-0 win.

Perron – a freshman forward – converted senior Anthony Salafia’s cross.

“Anthony finished it unbelievably,” South Portland Coach Bryan Hoy said. “Really excellent stuff.”

But Hoy wasn’t as pleased with his Red Riots during the first half. He voiced his frustration from the sidelines.

“They’re playing harder than you right now,” Hoy called out to his players.

Sanford had an edge in the first half, breaking up the Red Riots’ passes and forcing turnovers.

“I think our midfield was the key,” Sanford Coach Tim Fecteau said, noting the performances of Patrick Morris, Joshua Webber and Kevin Voter. “They work so well together.”

The Spartans produced nothing on the scoreboard, however.

“It’s hard when you battle that hard and it doesn’t go your way,” said Fecteau.

Sanford’s backup goalkeeper, Isaac Plante, finished with 10 saves. South Portland keeper Riley Hasson had five saves.

“The pace of play was just not at a varsity level for the first 20 minutes of the game,” Hoy said. “I thought we played much, much better in the second half.”

Still, neither team could get the ball into the goal – or stay on their feet.

“There were some slide challenges I wasn’t too please about,” Hoy said.

Fecteau also said the game got “a little out of control. It reminds me of the old war movies. You had bleeding on one side (of the field) and puking on the other.”

Both Hoy and Fecteau’s squads are young. South Portland graduated 10 seniors from last season, and Sanford has just three returnees who will play significant minutes. South Portland made it to the Class A South semifinals last season, while Sanford barely sneaked into the playoffs before falling in the prelims.

“They’re one of the most improved teams in the league,” Hoy said of Sanford. “That’s a real tough team, so for us to win in overtime is huge.”

Hoy said the Spartans should not be underestimated this season.

“I just think no one is talking about us yet,” Fecteau said. “I couldn’t be happier with my team.”