TOPSHAM — Down a goal late in regulation, the Lewiston boys’ soccer team kept pushing.

Down a man in overtime, the Blue Devils kept believing.

Coming off a thrilling overtime win in Saturday’s semifinal, Lewiston was hoping for another fantastic finish Thursday.

Instead, it was Mt. Ararat that got the game-winner early in the second overtime. It gave the Eagles a 2-1 Eastern A championship win and dealt the Blue Devils another heartbreaking playoff loss.

“I thought our kids were so resilient and so tough, to tie the game and then play as hard as they could play,” said Lewiston coach Mike McGraw. “We got into overtime and played a man down. What’s great about these kids is they didn’t care if we were a man down. They truly believed they were going to find a break and put it in.”

Lewiston tied the game with 46 second left. Abdi Shariff-Hassan buried a shot from the left side to force overtime. In the celebration though,  Lewiston fans came onto the field and midfielder Abdullahi Shaleh took his jersey off. He was automatically given a red card and ejected from the game. It also put Lewiston shorthanded the rest of the way.

The Blue Devils (13-2-2) went after the victory undetered, but it was Robbie Small’s second goal of the night that finished the game. Small headed in an Eric Bowie throw just 2:10 into the second overtime.

“I can’t take all the credit,” said Small. “We have two really strong throwers. It was really the throw that got to me. I was there at the right time. I tried to flick it to the left because I was in the middle and that’s where the open goal would be.”

It was a great comeback for the Eagles (15-1-1), which had to regroup after Lewiston’s late tying goal.

“I give my kids a lot of credit,” said Mt. Ararat coach Rick Renaud. “They kept battling. When you get scored on with 46 seconds left, that can be a heartbreaker.”

Lewiston came out strong to start the game and had a number of good chances.  Mohamed Ali had a rush. He dished off to Yusuf Yama but his shot went wide. Ali and Abdibaari Hersi both had quality shots but had them saved by Mt. Ararat keeper Gabe Pelletier. Lewiston also had a pair of bids by Yama early in the second half.

It was Small that broke the stalemate with 27:53 left in regulation. He converted a Nathan Santeramo pass with an open look in the middle.

Lewiston had to regroup but rallied down the stretch. Ali had an open look in front but Pelletier smothered the shot.  The Blue Devils also had a pair of free kicks late that they failed to capitalize on. Pelletier finished with eight saves while Lewiston’s Eric Soucy had six.

“The opportunities were there,” said McGraw. “You’ve got to be able to finish those. We finished the one we needed, but I wish we could have finished the real stellar ones that we had.”

Shariff-Hassan buried his chance in the final minute to force overtime but a momentary lapse in discipline proved costly. The Eagles knew they had the man advantage. Mt. Ararat’s focus was trying to be patient and do what they do best.

“They got their perseverance back,” said Renaud. “We talked about what we’re real dangerous at and what we needed to do. That’s what we started to do. We got that throw. That’s what we’re dangerous at, and it worked out for us.”

Will Hirnak had a pair of chances early in the first overtime. Lewiston put on good pressure but couldn’t spring somebody for an open shot.

“The kids were phenomenal,” said McGraw. “What they did was unbelievable. It was an amazing game. These are still kids. What a learning experience.”

Mt. Ararat advances to the Class A state championship game at Hampden Academy Saturday against Scarborough.

“It’s awful to have to lose a game like that,” said Renaud. “They played their hearts out. Both teams did. Lewiston is a very good team, a very skilled team. We just battled.”

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