HAMPDEN, Maine — Hampden Academy spent much of Wednesday night’s Eastern Maine Class A soccer championship game fending off attacks by Lewiston.
With the game on the line, the Broncos worked some overtime magic in the attacking third.
Junior striker Tristan Gardner scored his third goal of the game with 6:56 left in the extra period, lifting No. 1 Hampden Academy to a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Lewiston.
Noah Parker lofted a volley from the left flank into the penalty area to the left of the goal and Dan Good headed it back toward the middle, where Gardner was waiting to head it home.
“I picked out his head, I was looking for [Good], because I knew he could win it in the air,” Parker said.
“I knew he was going to head the ball at least to the left or toward the goal,” Gardner said. “He played a perfect ball to me. It couldn’t have been any more easy.”
Coach Josh Stevens’ team (16-1) earned Hampden’s first regional soccer title since 2004. The Broncos play Western Maine winner Scarborough (16-1) in Saturday’s state championship game in Bath.
“We’ve been talking about this for years,” Stevens said. “Since we lost to Messalonskee [in the 2011 final], a lot of these guys on this team were out here. They knew how that felt.”
Lewiston finished the season 13-2-2.
Stevens said the game-winner, a play the Broncos have been working on, was an example of how difficult it can be trying to contain both Gardner and Good.
“When you have the two top strikers in Eastern ‘A,’ they can’t take one away from us,” he said. “If they try to take one away from us, the other one’s going to be open.”
Coach Mike McGraw’s Blue Devils utilized their exceptional speed and crafty footwork to create scoring chances most of the game. Lewiston took 33 shots, although only 13 were on goal.
“We played hard and we came back twice,” McGraw said.
“We had some chances and we had a few go wide,” he added. “It was going over or just wide. You’ve got to be on frame [goal].”
Gardner scored three times after tallying all four goals during the Broncos’ 4-0 regular-season win at Lewiston on Sept. 14.
He staked Hampden to a 1-0 lead 8:53 into the game. Paxton Oversmith made a run into the middle and slid a pass to Gardner, who fired an 8-yard shot back across and past goalkeeper Austin Wing.
Lewiston equalized with 10:46 left in the half when Abdulkarim Abdulle’s 35-yard shot ricocheted down off the crossbar and deflected off the back of HA ‘keeper Isaiah Bess and into the goal.
The Broncos made it 2-1 less than three minutes later as Parker crossed a ball from the left wing into the middle, where Gardner redirected it into the goal.
Lewiston started the second half slowly, but tied the game with 12:43 to play. Abdulle pushed a pass up the middle to Maslah Hassan, who maneuvered his way around a defender and slipped a shot past Bess.
“Them keeping it close the way that they did, you saw what they’re capable of, and we had to try to counter that all day,” Stevens said.
Bess racked up 11 saves for the Broncos, while Wing finished with nine for Lewiston, all in the second half.
Robert Stowe and Cameron Scott were defensive workhorses for HA. Abdibaari Hersi and Abdi-Shariff Hassan complemented the play of Maslah Hassan and Abdulle.