With two of the top teams in Eastern Maine on the schedule, the Blue Devils were going to see what they were truly made of.
After two tough challenges, Lewiston’s standing and unbeaten record held up.
After edging Mt. Ararat by one with a late goal Tuesday, Lewiston repeated the effort and result with a 2-1 victory over Bangor in a battle of the top two teams in Eastern A.
“It’s a big win for us,” junior forward Abdirahman Shariff said. “That was one of the best second halves we’ve played all season.”
After a scoreless tie at the half, Shariff scored both Lewiston goals and helped the Blue Devils maintain control of the top spot in Eastern A at 10-0-1.
“It was a great all out effort,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “I can’t stop thinking about all the guys that did things. If we play like that every game, I’ll put money on us because we’re starting to put it together.”
Bangor dropped to 8-1-2 and sank to third in the standings behind Brunswick. Though the Rams got behind 2-0, Bangor got a penalty kick from Eli Clein and made a late push for the equalizer.
“Credit to them, they’re a great team,” Bangor coach Billy Shannon said. “They showed why they’re the No. 1 team in the East. I have to give credit to our guys, too. We battled. We didn’t quit. Down 2-0 is hard to come back from, but we made it interesting.”
Lewiston nearly scored right off the first touch of the ball to start the game. Bangor keeper Stanley Clarke saved the high shot. It was a back-and-forth game the rest of the opening half. Lewiston had the better chances. Hassan Mohamed had a nice rush and cross. Shariff had a pair of shots saved. Mohamed Khalid had a low shot go wide. Bangor had a great chance from Frederik Lindhard, but Lewiston keeper Austin Wing made the save.
“We talked at halftime about how well we played in the first half and how organized we were and how we limited their chances” Shannon said. “I told them that the team that scores first is going to win the game. Sure enough, they banged one in early in the second half. At that point, they gained some momentum.”
Lewiston got it’s game cranking in the second half. Bangor wasn’t able to counter as well as it did in the first. Abdulkarim Abdulle nearly broke the tie when he stole the ball away from Clarke and had an open net, but his shot went just wide.
“When he took that off the goalie’s hands, he almost single-handedly put that one in,” McGraw said.
It was Mohamed Abdisalan and Shariff that teamed up for the first goal. Abdisalan had a try in front that was saved by Clarke, but Shariff was there for the rebound and the first goal 6:16 into the second half.
“One of my partners hit it in and the goalie saved it,” Shariff said. “I just kept following it.
“In the big games, it’s always important to get that first goal. It builds up momentum for the team. It was very important for us to get that first goal.”
Bangor struggled to answer and didn’t have many shots for much of the second half. Lewiston did a great job winning the ball and feeding it back up front. Freshman Noralddin Othman came off the bench and gave Lewiston some great minutes in the midfield.
“Our guys out back did a tremendous job,” McGraw said.
Lewiston made it 2-0 with 11:38 left. Mohamed, who also played well for the Blue Devils, made a nice run down the right side and got the ball in front for Shariff.
“Speedy’s run for the second goal was just pure hustle,” McGraw said of Mohamed. “He made a great pass that he had to make to get us that goal.”
A foul call with 8:03 left in the game gave Bangor some life. Clein finished off the penalty kick. Then a few minutes later, Clein had a chance on the left side that missed. A turnover in the final minute gave the Rams one last opportunity. Clarke took the free kick and put it in front, but Lewiston was able to clear it.
“We had to make some adjustments and chase later in the game,” Shannon said. “We changed our formation and got players forward. We got the foul that created the penalty kick. That closed the gap a little bit.”
A week ago, Lewiston built a 2-0 lead against Brunswick and watched the Dragons rally to tie. The Blue Devils didn’t repeated the flat second half they produced last week.
“We finally played a complete second half and showed our toughness and showed some resiliency,” McGraw said. “We controlled some of the midfield when we had to.”