BRUNSWICK — Two proud programs met Thursday in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference boys’ high school soccer game, both looking for their first wins of the season.
Lewiston, behind three goals from Bilal Hersi, captured a 3-0 victory over Brunswick, which fell to 0-3 on the young season.
Blue Devils coach Mike McGraw preached the word “together” throughout the contest, hoping to see his talented squad play as one.
On the other side, Dragons leader Mark Roma, after watching his team allow 10 goals in losses to Mt. Blue and Edward Little to open the slate, was pleased with Brunswick’s effort despite the loss.
“We are getting there, heading in the right direction. We are getting better every day, and today we got better,” said Roma, whose Dragons visit “Battle of the Bridge” rival Mt. Ararat on Tuesday at 7 p.m. “We are disappointed, but we are pleased to be moving in a positive direction.”
McGraw gathered his team around him after the contest, angry with the play in the first half.
“The first half we played like our feet were stuck in the mud, playing without a sense of urgency. The second half we did much better. We didn’t play as good as we can. I know that we can play better,” McGraw said.
In the opening half, Brunswick had the first chance to score when Everett Horch stepped between two defenders and slipped a shot towards Lewiston goaltender Cooper Millett (two saves).
From there, Lewiston possessed the ball, looking for cracks in the Dragons’ defense. There weren’t many, as defenders Nolan Lyne, Zach Boyle, Kian Murray and Nathan Harrower blocked several chances. And the ones that slipped through were gobbled up by netminder Jared Hummer, who had nine saves in the first half.
“Jared played great today in goal,” Roma said of his keeper, who finished with 12 saves in the contest.
“It is a challenge, and I think we have to get of our own way. We will struggle to finish. We played into what Brunswick was doing defensively. We have to learn from it,” McGraw said.
Lewiston found a crack in the Brunswick defense. Hersi gathered the ball inside the 18, quickly stepped by a defender and fired a shot into the top right corner of the cage for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Hersi, a sophomore, continued to shine in the second half. He doubled Lewiston’s lead 10:47 into the frame, taking a pass from Warsame Ali and scoring on another solid shot into the top corner of Hummer’s net.
Lewiston owned the midfield, shutting off most Brunswick advances before they were able to start.
“We can’t turn the ball over in the middle of the field, especially against Lewiston. We need to get it in our head to have that one-two touch and go,” Roma said.
After the sluggish first half, Lewiston showed its team game in the second half, bouncing back from a season-opening 3-2 setback against Bangor last Saturday.
“We are a relatively young team and still trying to develop depth. For us, it is important to develop that all-important team chemistry,” McGraw said.
Hersi finished his hat trick on a penalty kick with 10:24 remaining, and the Blue Devils withstood a handful of Brunswick rushes into their defensive zone, including a solid try from Dragons captain Emmet Taub that slipped inches wide of Millett’s goal.
Lewiston finished with a 24-4 shot advantage along with a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
The Blue Devils host Mt. Ararat on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.