LEWISTON — Butch Dow warned his team.
Despite an early lead, the Lewiston girls’ soccer coach advised his club not to be complacent in the second half Saturday. He could see Brewer picking up its play, and if the Blue Devils didn’t react accordingly, that lead could be in jeopardy.
“At halftime, I told the girls that we needed to step up our game from the beginning whistle,” said Dow. “I think we started too slow. I think we took Brewer too lightly because of their past records. The girls, I think, realized halfway through the second half, ‘Oh no.'”
Sure enough, the Witches rallied with a strong second half and tied the game. Despite chances by both teams in overtime, their season-opener ended in a 1-1 tie.
“It was a physical game,” Brewer coach Tom Coleman said. “It was fun. I think the girls on both sides really worked hard. I think we passed the ball pretty well, and I think our game’s going to come.”
Lewiston struck early with a goal just 4:02 into the game. Maegan Mathon won the ball in the midfield and sent it ahead for Mikaela St. Laurent on the left side. She buried a shot into the opposite corner of the net for the quick lead.
Both teams had good chances the rest of the half. Adela Kaliliwa had a nice cross intercepted by Brewer keeper Ellie Leighton. Morgan Bowen hit the crossbar on a dead ball shot. Brewer got a pair of bids by Gretchen Wright. Chelsea Frederick also had a low shot that was saved by Lewiston goalie Ally Frechette.
“The first half, the biggest thing they did was they beat us to 75 percent of the 50-50 balls,” Dow said. “They were winning those, and we weren’t going to the ball.”
In the second half, Dow wanted Lewiston to change that. Brewer continued to play well and move the ball effectively. Both teams had surges of chances, but the Witches starting closing in on the tying goal.
“We just tried to work on possessing the ball and using our space,” Coleman said. “Our backs were collapsing a little bit too far. Once we were able to maintain that space, not have them stay too far and get offside and get out numbered in back, we ended up being able to possess the ball.”
Lewiston had an early opportunity when Gabby Barrett got the ball to Alanna Taylor for a shot that was saved, but the Blue Devils best attack in the second half came in the closing minutes.
Brewer got the equalizer 14:16 into the second half. It was a goal similar to Lewiston’s. Hannah Laskey passed the ball up from the midfield to Wright on the left side. Her shot hit the opposite post and went in.
“I warned them that if they took their time, they would have a chance to score a goal,” Dow said. “They got that chance, and they did it. Kudos to them.”
Lewiston played some of its best soccer in the final minutes of regulation. St. Laurent had a pair of chances go wide from in front. Then after a bad goal kick and dangerous play call in the final minutes, the Blue Devils hemmed in Brewer’s defense and swarmed the box. Though Brewer couldn’t clear it, Lewiston couldn’t get a finishing shot off. A Bowen corner in the closing seconds created opportunities, but the Blue Devils couldn’t cash in. It was the kind of play Dow wanted to see from his team earlier.
“We needed to step it up,” Dow said. “We need to win the balls. The team that wins those balls is the team that will have the opportunities.”
In overtime, Lewiston had a chance on a Kristina Blais shot in front. Brewer had a shot by Wright go wide.
“I think we really started possessing the ball well,” said Coleman, who argued for a handball call in overtime but didn’t get it. “We just need to start working on putting it on net. If we can do that, we’ll be all set.”
Lewiston finished the game outshooting Brewer 16-11.
“I think it’s a learning lesson,” Dow said. “We’re a young team this year. We have a few seniors, but we also have a few freshmen too. They’re realizing this is a high pressure game at the varsity level, and they need to step it up.”