Suab Nur of Lewiston High School shoots on goal while being defended by Zack Gunther of Mt. Blue in Lewiston last week. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
In the past, the Lewiston and Gorham boys’ soccer teams played each other in the preseason. That didn’t happen this year, but the Blue Devils and Rams will meet this season, and on a much bigger scale.
The two teams both bring unbeaten records into Saturday’s Class A state final, which matches up the No. 1 seeds in North and South regions.
Gorham coach Tim King said not having the usual preseason matchup to fall back on for information on Blue Devils makes him “a little anxious.” But at least he’s been able to scout Lewiston a little bit.
“I had somebody at the (North regional final) that had given me a pretty good scouting report, and got some other stuff. So I’ve been working at it for a couple of days, for sure,” King said. “They give you a lot to look at.”
Lewiston coach Mike McGraw, meanwhile, said he hasn’t seen any video of Gorham, so scouting has been difficult.
“Just word of mouth seems to tell me that we’re going to go from the frying pan into the fire,” McGraw said.
The Blue Devils coach likened Gorham to North regional runner-up Mt. Ararat. He called the Rams “speedy out back” and “very good in the middle.”
McGraw also singled out Gorham junior midfielder Andrew Rent, saying he’s “everything that everybody has said he was.”
Rent is the Rams’ top scorer this season, and one of the top two or three players in the state, according to King. He also plays on a club team with Lewiston junior Bilal Hersi.
King highlighted senior goalie Trevor Gray, who was a first-team all-SMAA selection and a Southern Maine regional all-star.
“He gives us a lot of confidence in the back,” King said.
If the game comes down to a battle of goalies, King said he likes who he has in his net, but also noted that Lewiston senior goalie Dido Lumu looked good from what he’d seen and heard.
Both teams are leery of slow starts. Lewiston has fared much better in the second half than the first in each of their three playoff games.
“I would rather not wait until the second half to have to make adjustments to take charge of the game. I’d like to be able to do that earlier in the game,” McGraw said. “It is a game played by the players, and they determine the outcome.”
King said it’s “incredibly important” that his team gets off to a good start.
“That’s definitely a focus, making sure that we can kind of contain them early on,” King said. “But at the same time, you know, we’re not going to sit back and play defense. If we have good opportunities we’ll take them whenever they show up. You know, maybe we can jump on top, who knows? But settling into the game is important for us, for sure.”
King would rather the game not go to penalty kicks. The Rams’ last two postseason losses ended in PKs, in the 2016 state final and in last year’s regional final.
“Maybe it will be our turn if we get to that this year,” King said.
Rainy weather is in the forecast for Saturday’s game at McMann Field in Bath, and both coaches noted that dealing with the conditions could be an x-factor.