LEWISTON — A quick start and a strong finish added up to an impressive win Saturday.
The Lewiston boys’ soccer team got an early goal and set the tone for the rest of the way in a 2-0 win over Bangor in an Eastern A semifinal. The Blue Devils advance to Wednesday’s regional final at Hampden Academy.
Abdi Shariff-Hassan had a goal and an assist to lead the Blue Devils back to the final for the second straight year. Lewiston lost to Mt. Ararat in overtime last fall.
“Bangor’s a really good team,” Shariff-Hassan said. “If we let them score first then their energy would be up and it would be really hard to come back. So the first five minutes is the most important. It’s who comes out strong that can win the game.”
Lewiston edged Bangor 3-2 in a regular season game a few weeks ago, but the difference this time around was the start the Blue Devils had. Lewiston started strong in a quarterfinal win over Messalonskee but let up later in the game. That didn’t happen against Bangor.
“I think it was the first 15 minutes of the game,” Bangor coach Dave Patterson said. “The tone was set right there. Lewiston came out all fired up. They were getting every ball first and had us back on our heels. Over the course of the game, we fought our way back into it, but it was too big a hill to climb.”
Lewiston had a great scoring chance early when Maslah Hassan had a shot just 4:03 into the game. ‘Keeper Stanley Clarke made a leaping save.
“We wanted to put the pressure on them,” said Hassan, who scored Lewiston’s goal in the second half.
At 18:22 of the first, Shariff-Hassan scored when he turned around and fired a shot that beat Clarke.
Lewiston nearly added to the lead when Abdulkarim Abdulle hit the crossbar with 19:18 left and then Shariff-Hassan hit the bar again off an Abdibaari Hersi feed with 6:52 left.
Lewiston (13-1-2) outshot the Rams 10-1 in the first half.
“We weathered the storm a little bit,” Patterson said. “We hung on and the boys showed a lot of heart. We played some nice soccer. We tried to keep playing but just came up against a better team tonight.”
The Rams (12-4) got an early bid from Andrew Barrowman in the second half but it went wide. Though Bangor tried to create more pressure offensively, the Blue Devils were prepared for it.
Hersi hit the crossbar with 35:35 left but Bangor started to string some nice passes together and got the ball deep. There was one loose ball in front that ‘keeper Austin Wing scrambled to get his hands on. It was finally cleared by a defender. The Rams had a header go over the net and a shot by Eli Clein hit the crossbar late in regulation.
Lewiston made it 2-0 with 29:28 left in the game. Shariff-Hassan sent a pass ahead to Hassan on the left side where he fired a shot past Clarke.
“They kept coming up so I saw him before he made the run,” Shariff-Hassan said.
That was all the Lewiston defense needed. Though Bangor produced some consistent pressure with a long ball that got the Rams on the attack, Lewiston did a nice job clearing the ball and breaking up any threats.