BRUNSWICK — What may have appeared to be a seemingly comfortable lead for the Lewiston boys’ soccer team proved to be not so comfortable at all.
The Blue Devils built a 2-0 lead by halftime Thursday and had controlled most of play in a key KVAC matchup with Brunswick. That fortune changed with two quick Dragon goals in the second half. Lewiston had to settle for a 2-2 tie with the Dragons.
Lewiston (8-0-1), ranked first in Eastern A, had won the first eight games of the season. Brunswick (5-2-2) is now seeded third.
“I thought we played a pretty good first half,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “When we came out in the second half, I thought we were kind of flat.”
Brunswick scored twice in the first 2:41 of the second half and erased the Lewiston lead. The Dragons played well in the second half and gave the Blue Devils all it could handle.
“We’ll take that after being down 2-0,” Brunswick coach Mark Roma said. “That second half, I thought we gave them everything they wanted. The second half of the game game was there for us, but we just didn’t finish.”
Lewiston had scored 42 goals coming into the game and had only allowed seven. Only Cony had scored more than one goal against the Blue Devils in a game this season.
Lewiston had built the lead on goals from Abdirahman Shariff and Gage Cote in the first half and could have had more. Mohamed Khalid hit the post with a shot, and Shariff had a bid stopped with a diving save by Dragon goalie Josh Dorr.
Brunswick had nearly scored just 20 seconds into the game, but a headsup play by Lewiston defender Michael Wong cleared the ball from the goalmouth. In the second half, the Dragons were able to score early — and often.
JD Souza got the first one just 56 seconds into the half. He got free for an outside shot that went high into the net and eluded the outstretched hand of Lewiston goalie Austin Wing. Wing’s been nursing an ankle injury and may have been limited in his ability to leap high enough.
“You can’t make mistakes against good teams,” McGraw said. “You can’t allow a kid to be open to take a shot. He picked the right spot.”
Then at 2:41, a foul on a Brunswick rush led to a free kick. Lewiston was caught unaware. While the Blue Devils were trying to organize a wall and Wing was trying to get back into the goal, Brunswick took advantage and put the ball in play quickly. Souza touched the ball to his right for Jesse Arford, who had an open look at an empty net for the tying goal.
“They reacted very smartly,” McGraw said. “We weren’t setting up. We were like a deer in the headlights on the call because it hadn’t been called all year. Brunswick reacted correctly. They played the ball quickly and put it in.”
From there, Brunswick evened the play out. Lewiston struggled to find the space to create the kind of rushes it had in the first half. The Blue Devils were playing without Abdulkarim Adbdulle in the second half because of an injury while Brunswick did a nice job of breaking up any Lewiston threats.
“I kind of challenged them,” Roma said of his Dragons. “We knew the kind of game they like to play. We’ve seen them enough. I’ve watched them play enough. So we knew what they like to do.
“There’s no substitution for speed. So I just challenged my backs to know it’s coming. You just have to hold your water and defend and don’t get rattled. I’m so proud of those guys back there.”
Brunswick had a couple of chances later in the second half. One rush was broken up by Wong, who had a nice game defensively for the Blue Devils. Cole Faulkner had a header go over the net.
Lewiston still applied pressure but created an attack against the Dragons. Still, the Blue Devils couldn’t generate an abundance of quality shots. Shariff had a header that went over the net. Mohamed Abdisalan put a cross from Maulid Abdow wide.
“I think we tended to try to do too much instead of sticking with what we’re successful with,” McGraw said. “We have to make sure we keep playing the game.”
In the overtime, neither team had great chances. Lewiston appeared more frustrated and struggled to connect passes like it did earlier in the game.
“We played with a little more press. We tried to force it,” McGraw said. “Instead of trying to play the game naturally, we tried to force it.”
Though Brunswick nearly scored in the opening seconds, it was Lewiston that got the lead first. A pass from Abdulle from the left side found Shariff in front. He made a move around a defender and buried a nice shot 4:36 into the game.
Then with 21:34 left in the half, Gage Cote made a run down the right side and scored for a 2-0 lead. In Lewiston’s first six shots of the game, the Blue Devils scored twice, hit the post once and had one potential goal stopped with a diving save.
Brunswick played with more intensity and did a better job beating Lewiston to the ball in the second half.
“It’s kind of frustrating when it took us a half to do it,” Roma said. “It’s hard adjusting. We don’t play many teams like this. It’s hard to get ready for this. You can practice and do all the stuff you can do but until you face it and until you face that speed and that relentless pressure coming at you, it took a while for the kids to get a grip on it.”