LEWISTON, Maine — The goals that came so fast and furiously early in the season are taking a little extra time and patience.
The Lewiston boys’ soccer team has made that adjustment, and while the Blue Devils are still scoring at a good clip, opponents are making Lewiston work harder.
“Coach (Mike) McGraw said that teams aren’t going to be the same,” sophomore forward Muktar Ali said. “They’re going to work harder because it’s the playoffs. For seniors, it’s going to be their last game. You never know. Anything can happen. So you have to go out there and play hard.”
Lewiston produced another solid effort Friday night and patiently earned a positive result. The Blue Devils got a goal in the first half against Bangor and then broke the game open in the second for a 4-0 win over the Rams.
Top-seeded Lewiston (16-0) returns to the Class A North championship game Wednesday and will host Hampden Academy. Lewiston defeated the Broncos 5-1 in the regular season and 4-3 in the KVAC championship game.
Bangor’s Stanley Clarke made nine saves in net as Lewiston outshot the Rams 25-2.
The semifinal victory proved costly for the Blue Devils, however. Senior midfielder Abdulkarim Abdulle was given a red card for a tackle midway through the second half with Lewiston up 3-0. The Blue Devils played the rest of the game shorthanded, and now must play the regional final without Abdulle, one of their top players and a dominant force in the midfield.
“The official was right on the call,” McGraw said. “He made the call. You’re not going to change it. If you ask me if it was the right call? I’d have to say that he had no choice. I know he didn’t want to, but he had no choice but to make that call. I’m on the referees’ board and that’s talked about.”
Lewiston got goals from Ali, Noralddin Othman, Abdi Shariff and Maslah Hassan. The team’s four goals brings the total to 109 goals in 16 games for the Blue Devils.
This time around, Bangor was prepared for Lewiston’s speed and crafted a solid defensive effort against it.
“They did great defensively,” McGraw said. “That’s a really good team.”
Like they did in a 5-0 win over Edward Little in the quarterfinals, the Blue Devils created chances early and built off that attack. Lewiston led EL 1-0 at the half, the smallest halftime lead the Blue Devils have had this season. But Lewiston broke the game wide open in the second half as the Red Eddies wore down. The Blue Devils repeated that pattern Friday.
Lewiston finally broke through with 12:26 left in the opening half. Shariff hit a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced out front. Ali was there waiting for it.
Lewiston nearly added to the lead late in the half when Abdulle put a shot over the net.
It took just 9:41 of the second half before the Blue Devils added to the lead. A flip throw by Maulid Abdow was put in front. Othman was at the left post to direct it in for the 2-0 lead.
Then with 22:06 left, Shariff took a pass from Hassan. He dribbled by a defender and found space for an open shot.
Less than a minute later, Abdulle was red carded for a hard tackle. Lewiston played the final 21:36 shorthanded but got a goal from Hassan with 32 seconds left.
Bangor’s first shot came with 15:51 left. Garth Berenyi had a bid from the right side but Lewiston ‘keeper Austin Wing made a diving save. The Rams had another threat later in the half but Zakariya Abdulle made a nice clear. Lewiston’s defense was solid in front of Wing. Bangor was never allowed much of a counter.