Suab Nur of Lewiston is hoisted up by his teammates, including goalkeeper Dido Lumu, right, after their victory over Gorham in the Class A state boys’ soccer championship game Saturday in Bath. Nur scored the game’s only goal. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
BATH — Rain started falling at halftime of Saturday’s Class A boys’ soccer state final between Gorham and Lewiston, and early in the second half the Rams started pouring on offensive pressure after struggling to do so in the first half.
The Blue Devils, though, survived a deluge of corner kicks and countered with a late Suab Nur goal for a 1-0 victory at McMann Field to win their second straight state title, and third in four years.
“You got to give Gorham credit because they made the adjustment they had to,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “We weathered it, and we got the win.”
McGraw said the Rams (16-1-1) put an extra player in the midfield in the second half, a “really smart move” that took away some of the Blue Devils’ (16-0-2) first-half midfield dominance.
“And when they did that it took a little bit of time for us to figure out where we could find an opening just behind the midfield, in front of the defense. Because their defense is so strong, trying to get the ball behind it was going to be really, really hard to do. But it really worked,” McGraw said. “(Jama Abdullahi’s) pass to Bilal (Hersi), put it in the perfect place where Bilal could quickly get it under control, and he found Suab, and Suab finished it. And it was going to be one of those things where just it was going to be one goal, or it was going to go to overtime, and that’s scary.”
The Blue Devils needed overtime to beat Portland in last year’s state final — also by a 1-0 score. Nur made sure 80 minutes was enough with 12:45 to play. Abdullahi’s pass from out front of the box to the right was re-directed by Hersi to an open Nur, who then sliced a shot off the right side of his foot past Gorham goalie Trevor Gray and into the back of the net.
“When I got the ball I knew I had to score that goal to win the states,” Nur said. “I had that confidence to score (with that shot).”
Nur, who said he “100 percent” thought the shot was going to get past Gray (five saves), called scoring the goal the best moment of his life.
It was a moment of needed relaxation for the Blue Devils, who held first-half advantages in shots on goal (4-1) and corner kicks (3-0). Gorham got its first corner just 1:15 into the second half, and the Rams tried seven of them before Nur’s goal.
“The first and second one, we got scared, but the third one, the fourth one, I told the guys, ‘Calm down … get the ball, kick it up top and just possess it.’ That’s what we did,” Lewiston senior defender Enock Citenga said. “I thought on the (fifth) one they were going to score … but luckily our goalkeeper came out and he got a good hand on it.”
“We had a bunch of corner kicks. We couldn’t score,” Gorham coach Tim King said. “They did, and that’s the ballgame.
“I thought we played a real good second half. … But at the end of the day, if you don’t take your chances in the state game, you’re not going to win.”
Brady King took all nine of the corners, and got a de facto 10th set kick when the aforementioned fifth corner was punched by Lewiston goalie Dido Lumu (two saves) back to King, whose put-back try was fumbled by Lumu before being cleared.
Kevin Mollison took a 25-yard shot that just went over the bar with the clock winding down to three minutes, and the ninth and final Gorham corner went through the crowd in the box with 1:30 left before being cleared.
The horn sounding at the end signaled another celebration for the Blue Devils, who, along with last year’s state title also won in 2015.
“(A third title) means that I’ve got great kids, and I’m very proud of them. I got a great support mechanism. I got great coaches. And that means that I’m pretty lucky as a coach,” McGraw said. “And our team is just awesome.”
Andrew Rent of Gorham has a scoring opportunity in the second half as he comes away with the ball past Lewiston keeper Dido Lumu, who came out of position to challenge a ball during the Class A state soccer championship game in Bath on Saturday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Mardoche Kikobo of Lewiston tries to get around Kevin Mollison of Gorham during the Class A state soccer championship game Saturday in Bath. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Ahmed Abadir of Lewiston celebrates with teammates while being called to receive his individual award following their victory over Gorham in the Class A state soccer championship game Saturday in Bath. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Suab Nur of Lewiston leads the Lewiston celebration after the Blue Devils’ victory over Gorham in the Class A state soccer championship game Saturday in Bath. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Lewiston players celebrate after defeating Gorham in the Class A state soccer championship game Saturday in Bath. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Lewiston players celebrate with their head coach, Mike McGraw, after defeating Gorham in the Class A state soccer championship game in Bath on Saturday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)