READFIELD, ME – OCTOBER 3: Maranacook Community High School’s Mitchell Root fires into Lewiston High School’s Dido Lumu during a soccer match on Tuesday October 3, 2017 in Readfield.(Staff photo by Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer)

READFIELD — Speed met strength as one of the best teams in Class A clashed with one of the best in Class C on Tuesday evening.

The speed won out, in the form of Class A North contender Lewiston, which left Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams with a 3-0 KVAC boys’ soccer victory over Class C South leader Maranacook.

“I expected it to be a hard-fought game, and it was,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “We got out of here with a win, and I’m very happy. Plus the fact that Maranacook being worth a lot of points helps us too.”

The game matched up the physical and towering presence of the host Black Bears (10-1) and the speed and skill of the visiting Blue Devils (8-1-2). Those differing styles made for a fairly quiet first half, with few scoring chances and even fewer shots.

Both teams best early chances came off free kicks, with Maranacook pushing a set-piece chance just wide nine minutes in, and Lewiston clanging a header off the right post with 14 minutes left before halftime.

The Blue Devils finally broke the ice with five minutes left in the first half. Warsame Ali’s low cross from left to right didn’t connect with its intended target — Muktar Ali — but Ahmed Hussein was first to the loose ball and struck it low into the net.

The Black Bears nearly tied it with one minute to go before the break, as Jackson McPhedran’s kick from the center line went into the box, but Lewiston goalie Dido Lumu made one save against Wyatt Lambert and defender Mardoche Kikobo made another.

“That’s huge. That’s momentum,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “Going into half 1-1, that (would have been) huge.”

Those were the Black Bears’ only two on-target shots of the half, and the Blue Devils only mustered two as well.

To get more chances, Lewiston had to try something different against Maranacook’s formidable back line, which had only given up one goal in its first 10 games.

“We tried to play the ball outside a little bit more so that we could have more space to work, because you can’t go down the middle against Maranacook,” McGraw said. “They’re just too tough. And they’re big, and they’re physical, they’re not going to let you get anything inside.

“The only time we were able to get inside is if we found an opening, and a couple openings occurred and we found it.”

The Black Bears did a good job neutralizing Lewiston standout sophomore striker Bilal Hersi for the first 48 minutes, but Hersi took advantage of one of those openings McGraw spoke of to make it 2-0. Muktar Ali fed Hersi with a through ball at the top of the box and Hersi sent a shot toward the right post, then followed the rolling strike to make sure it made it across the goal line.

“I play behind him, so every time I have the ball I always look for him because I know he’s a good finisher. I’m happy I got that ball through to him and he got that goal,” Muktar Ali said. “I saw that opening and I saw him — I made eye contact — so I saw him and I gave him a through ball.”

“Their quickness is what killed us, and their first touch,” Beckwith said. “You don’t face teams like that, first touch. Not 11 kids anyway.”

Noralddin Othman put the game away 10 minutes later with a 35-yard strike from the right side into the left side of the goal on a direct kick.

Maranacook’s best chance to mount a comeback rang off the post just over five minutes later. The Black Bears finished with just two more shots on goal in the second half, and four total for the game.

“Our defense was playing phenomenal, playing great defense. The post played a great defense too a couple times,” McGraw said.

Beckwith was upbeat after the game, despite a rare regular-season loss for his program.

“That’s great stuff. We haven’t lost a game in five years, regular season. There aren’t many teams done that,” Beckwith said. “This is great for us. Pops the bubble a little bit, brings us back down to earth. And we know where we got to go, because that’s what we want to be. So like I tell these guys ‘it’s only a mistake if we don’t learn by it.'”

The Blue Devils won’t see the Black Bears again this season, but the lessons learned Tuesday night might still be felt down the road.

“Maranacook presents a physical presence, and we need to be able to deal with that because the closer we get to the playoffs the more intense the games are. The more intense they are, the more physical they are,” McGraw said. “When you get into the playoffs it’s a totally different scenario.”

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READFIELD, ME – OCTOBER 3: Maranacook Community High School’s Connor Stockwell, left, collides with Lewiston High School’s Henok Citenga during a soccer match on Tuesday October 3, 2017 in Readfield.(Staff photo by Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer) READFIELD, ME – OCTOBER 3: Maranacook Community High School’s Micah Charette attempts to block a shot by Lewiston High School’s Dido Lumu during a soccer match on Tuesday October 3, 2017 in Readfield.(Staff photo by Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer) READFIELD, ME – OCTOBER 3: Maranacook Community High School’s Riley Maddocks, right, is gripped by Lewiston High School’s Henok Citenga during a soccer match on Tuesday October 3, 2017 in Readfield.(Staff photo by Andy Molloy/Staff Photographer)

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