FARMINGTON — Lewiston sophomore forward Bilal Hersi felt a sense of duty to his team and an obligation to himself to score the winning goal.
That opportunity presented itself with 58.9 seconds left in double overtime. Hersi booted the ball from 10 yards out and into the net, providing the fast-passing, sure-footed Lewiston Blue Devils (6-1-2) with a 3-2 victory over the rough-and-tumble Mt. Blue Cougars (5-3-1) in a boys’ soccer game at Caldwell Field on a brisk Thursday night.
“I needed to. My team needed me,” Hersi said. “I missed a couple of chances in the first half that I should have made and I needed to make that (goal).
“He (Mt. Blue goalie) made great saves. A shout out to him because he made great saves.
“I feel really great. It was a great moment, to be honest. I never expected it to happen, but those are a great group of boys and did not quit. 2-0 down — they played amazing. A shout out to them.”
But the Blue Devils didn’t seem to flinch when they fell behind to the Cougars.
“We talked about it that you have to maintain composure,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “One of the things I say all the time is that if there’s time on the clock, there’s time to win a game and they know that, and they put themselves in a hole and we just dug our way out.
“I have to give Mt. Blue credit because those guys have come such a long way. They really work hard. The kids play hard, play physical and they are one of these teams that are super-dangerous if the playoffs come.”
The intensity on both sides of field made it feel like a playoff game.
“I know it was very important to them because they have done some incredible things during the season and they played some tough games and won some tough games,” McGraw added.
The Cougars were sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead thanks to back-to-back, unassisted goals by junior Sam Smith.
His first goal came with one minute left in the opening half. He launched the ball into the Lewiston net on a direct kick. His shot hit the top right of the net and Mt. Blue was ahead 1-0.
In the second half, the Cougars made themselves comfortable when Smith punched in his second unassisted goal from about 40 yards out at the 36-minute mark.
“I think they (Blue Devils) are well coached,” Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith said. “They are a good team. They are very effective, organized and they did some great stuff and capitalized when they needed to.
“I liked the way we fought. They definitely fought, they clawed, they battled and stayed together. We gave up a couple of goals that were unfortunate in terms of just the way they sliced through us, but that’s the danger and nature of their team.”
Mt. Blue’s two-goal lead didn’t last long despite Tucker Carleton’s extraordinary efforts in goal.
Hersi scored Lewiston’s first goal on a Warsame Ali assist at the 34-minute mark.
With 23:04 minutes left in regulation, junior midfielder Bakar Shariff-Hassan tied the game with the help of a Mardoche Kikobo assist.
Hersi would step up again in the second overtime with his second goal of the game.
Lewiston sophomore forward Bilal Hersi and Mt. Blue’s Dominic Giampietro race for the ball in a field hockey game at Caldwell Field in Farmington on Thursday evening.Lewiston midfielder Warsame Ali bears down on Mt. Blue goalie Tucker Carleton in a field hockey game at Caldwell Field in Farmington on Thursday evening.