LEWISTON — It was an all-Blue-Devils-on-deck sort of night for the Lewiston boys’ soccer team Wednesday.

With a second straight regional title on the line, and playing without one of its top players, Lewiston had to rally the troops to earn a return trip to the Class A state championship game.

“They really wanted to do this for (Abdulkarim Abdulle),” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “They stepped it up and filled the gaps the way they wanted to. They played inspired for him, and also for themselves, because they wanted to return back to the state final.”

Lewiston earned that return trip and won a second consecutive Class A North championship with a 4-0 win over Hampden Academy. The Blue Devils will face Scarborough at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the Class A state final.

The Blue Devils were playing without Abdulle, an all-conference and all-regional midfielder after he was issued a red card in a regional semifinal win over Bangor and had to miss the regional final. Lewiston’s goal Wednesday was to play well enough without him and earn another game.

“I’m going to be so happy to see (Abdulle) back out on the field and doing what he does,” McGraw said. “He’s such a smooth and deceptively fast player sometimes. It will be great to see those guys play together one more time. For a coach, that’s going to be a nice thing to watch and be there to be part of.”

Senior Mohamed Abdisalan started in place of Abdulle in the midfield Wednesday. He played poised and steady and did a nice job defending and moving the ball the other way. Meanwhile, Hassah Qeyle and Noralddin Othman filled in on the offensive side. Both had goals while Othman also had an assist.

“Abdisalan stepping in, he’s more of a poised, smooth and controlled player,” McGraw said. “He likes to drift back and be more defensive and opportunistic offensively. He takes the shot when he’s got it. Qeyle, he’s more of a dynamic, change of pace and direction type of player with a lot of control. Noralddin is somewhere in between. They really did a nice job filling in and playing different roles.”

Abdulle’s absence forced Lewiston into a more defensive position, but the Blue Devils’ potent offense still produced. In addition to Othman’s goal and assist, Abdi Shariff had a goal and two assists. Maslah Hassan had a goal and an assist. Lewiston now has 113 goals on the season.

“Me and Q, we played in Karim’s spot and Abdislan stayed back,” Othman said. “It was hard without Karim, but in the second half we started to know each other and play together.”

The first two goals came with 4:44 left in the  first half and 4:44 into the second half. That combination proved to be a backbreaker for the Broncos (13-4).

“You could say we were almost successful,” Hampden coach Josh Stevens said. “The goal was to try to get to halftime and if we’re level at 0-0, that could be a springboard for us and maybe build some momentum. We wanted to put them in a position that they’re not used to. That’s what it’s really all about — try to do something that makes them uncomfortable.”

Lewiston (17-0) outshot Hamdpen 11-2 in the first half but missed a number of good opportunities, including a post that Maslah Hassan hit 30 seconds into the game. With Abdi Shariff playing back in the middle, he attacked less, but Lewiston still produced a steady pressure.

Late in the opening half, Shariff sent the ball ahead and sprung Othman for an open look.

“Thanks to Abdi Shariff, he gave me a nice pass and I just finished it,” Othman said. 

In two previous playoff games, Lewiston scored midway or late in the opening half and built on a 1-0 lead in the second half.

“That was the goal that opened the game,” Othman said.

Lewiston poured it on in the second half, outshooting Hamden 16-0. A free kick by Shariff produced a rebound that was buried by Qeyle. That 2-0 lead was tough for the Broncos to overcome.

“When they scored the first goal at the end of the half, you could sense a little bit of momentum,” Stevens said. “We still thought we could hold on, but when they put in that second one, any wind that was left in our sails really started to exit.”

Lewiston added two more goals 3:28 apart. Maslah Hassan did a nifty tip of the ball toward a breaking Shariff for a goal with 26:58 left. Then Othman made a nice pass to Maslah Hassan for a goal with 23:30 left.

“Good for them,” said Stevens, whose team beat Lewiston in overtime in 2013. “They’re a tremendous club. I have nothing but respect for Coach McGraw. I told them before the game that it was really an honor just to be in the game and be with him. Two  of my experiences in the Eastern Maine championship has been against him. I look up to him from a coaching perspective. It’s fun for me, and I love watching them. I would just love to beat them. That would be terrific.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.