LEWISTON — One thing the Hampden Academy boys’ soccer team has proved it can do is take a trip to Lewiston and find success.
The Broncos did that last fall with a stunning win in the Eastern A semifinal and returned Tuesday to see what it could do against the unbeaten Blue Devils.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming down here,” Hampden coach Josh Stevens said. “Anytime you come to Lewiston you know you’re going to be in for a game. We just wanted to show that we’re capable of playing at this level, especially after we had a good run last year.”
Hampden played Lewiston to a 0-0 tie, blanking an unbeaten Blue Devils team that had scored 36 goals in its previous seven games. Though Lewiston (7-0-1) outshot the Broncos 20-4, the Blue Devils just couldn’t finish the one it needed.
“We had a lot of chances,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “All the good quality chances we had just barely missed. On any other day, there’s two goals there.”
Lewiston is ranked atop the Eastern A standings while Hampden (5-0-3) was ranked third.
“Hampden comes out of this better because a tie on our field is a good victory for them,” McGraw said. “Both teams earned it. Both teams earned the points. I feel like it should have gone our way, but I’m biased.”
Lewiston goalie Eric Soucy and Hampden’s Zach Gilpin were outstanding in goal while the two defenses were pretty solid, despite having a lot of newcomers in the back.
“We only have one starter back on defense from last year,” said Stevens, whose team made Lewiston work for its shots and had a back line that played very hard against a speedy Blue Devils attack. “So it’s been interesting but the guys have stepped in very quickly.”
Lewiston’s backline is rebuilt as well, but the Blue Devils did a nice job limiting the Broncos’ rushes. Hampden’s Tristen Gardner led the attack and did a great job trying to create something, but Lewiston got solid play from Soucy and the defenders in front of him.
“What I told my players is that we bent a little but we didn’t break,” McGraw said. “Eric made the saves that he had to. Daud [Idow] cleared the ball out, and Aden Issack did some nice things. The defense did okay.”
Lewiston’s Mohamed Ali had numerous chances in the first half, including a rush or two that Hampden managed to break up. Abdullahi Shaleh set up Ali for a shot in alone that Gilpin saved. MK Mohamed and Yusuf Yama also had quality bids for Lewiston, which outshot the Broncos 8-2 in the first half. Hampden’s best shot was a header by Ian Miller off a corner.
“We didn’t play exactly as we wanted to,” said Stevens. “We played a little helter skelter at times, but it was good for the boys.”
In the second half, Lewiston possessed the ball and continuously missed the net with shots. Yama had a couple go wide or over the goal. Abdi Shariff-Hassan had a header miss the net. Ali had a crack at a cross from Mohamed but it went wide. Abdibaari Hersi had a nice shot toward the left top corner that Gilpin leaped and one-handed away from the goal. Soucy made a nice save on a free kick that Hampden had headed for the left of the net.
In overtime both teams threatened. Hampden had a chances when it got a rush between defenders and had Gardner on the left side, but he couldn’t get a shot off. In the second overtime, Gilpin saved a shot but couldn’t hold it. A Blue Devils forward tipped it toward the goal with the back of his foot, but Gilpin recovered in time to save it.
“Both teams were geared up for each other,” said McGraw.