Edward Little’s Oliver Hall, center, battles with Lewiston’s Mohamed Hassan, left, Joel Musese, center and Hussein Hassan, right on a corner kick during Tuesday night’s soccer match in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — Lewiston had already assured itself of the top seed in Class A North, as well as a berth in the exhibition KVAC championship game this weekend.
That didn’t stop the Blue Devils from making a statement against rival Edward Little to close out an undefeated regular season.
Bilal Hersi netted a hat trick, despite not entering the game until midway through the first half, and the Blue Devils rolled to a 7-0 victory over the Red Eddies in a boys’ soccer clash at Don Roux Field on Tuesday.
“We were focused to end the season the right way,” Hersi said. “Especially (since) it was senior night, too, so we just wanted to send our seniors out the right way. And we just wanted to send a message to the rest of the state that we’re ready.”
The Blue Devils (12-0-2) sent out a lineup consisting of 11 seniors, meaning the junior Hersi watched the start from the bench.
It was a 1-0 game when he entered 19 minutes into the first half, after senior Joel Musese’s direct kick from just outside the box went under a leaping Red Eddies (6-7-1) wall and past goalie Mack Sampson three minutes earlier.
It took Hersi less than three minutes to find the back of the net, which he did on a failed EL clear.
“I was focused,” Hersi said. “I haven’t scored the past three games, so I was just focused to get it going before playoffs, and just have the confidence going into playoffs to score more goals for my team. That’s my job for the team, and I got to do that.”
Hersi scored again with less than five minutes to go in the half, after Ahmed Abadir’s shot rang off the bottom of the crossbar and somehow stayed out. Hersi made sure it wasn’t out for long.
“Their second goal was just kind of bouncing in front of the net, their third goal was just kind of bouncing in front of the net, and they out-worked us and out-played us and beat us to balls that were 50-50 balls that could have been prevented,” EL coach Tim Mains said.
Despite being down 3-0 at the half, Mains said he was “encouraged” by his team’s opportunities, which included three corner kicks in a row with 12 minutes left in the half.
“We just couldn’t put one away,” Mains said. “You know, maybe we could have gotten a different result if we could have just kept it a little bit closer.”
Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said it was his team’s job to prevent the Red Eddies from getting encouraged by a goal to start the second half.
“The important part was for us to focus, to keep doing what we should be doing, regardless of what the score is. Because if you allow a rival to be encouraged they’re very dangerous. And they are,” McGraw said. “I don’t care what the score is today, they’re a dangerous opponent any time Lewiston and Edward Little get together.”
The message was received by Blue Devils players. Abadir scored 45 seconds into the half, Jama Abdullahi scored six minutes in off a Suab Nur cross that Hersi slightly redirected to notch an assist, and Hersi completed his hat trick just over 10 minutes in, with an assist from Musese.
Cooper Millett completed the scoring just over 12 minutes in, with fellow senior Derek Metivier providing the assist.
“It really was a great way to finish a season,” McGraw said. “The seniors got a chance to play, the other reserves got a chance to play, and we scored some goals.”
Dido Lumu made two saves in net for the shutout, and Kurtis Pelletier also saw time in the Lewiston net. Sampson made three saves in the first half for EL, while Juan Hortado and Jake Arel split time in the second half, and both made two saves.
Lewiston’s Hussein Hassan winds up for a bicycle kick during the first half of Tuesday’s soccer match against Edward Little. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)Lewiston players celebrate the first goal of Tuesday night’s soccer match against Edward Little. From left to right are Mardoche Kidobo, Ahmed Abadir, Joel Musese, who scored the goal, and Enock Citenga, right. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)Lewiston’s Joel Musese, right, makes a nifty pass to a teammate before Edward Little’s Xajay Brooks can get to it during Tuesday’s soccer match in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)