Oxford Hills goalie Sam Morton makes a save during Tuesday’s game against Lewiston High School. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — Defending Class A state champion Lewiston got off to a fast start in its playoff opener Tuesday, but to call it a hot start would contradict head coach Mike McGraw’s assessment of his own team.

The Blue Devils were given a test in the first half, then a lecture from McGraw at halftime, before pulling away from Oxford Hills for a 5-0 victory in a Class A North quarterfinal at Don Roux Field.

“The first half we were cold, and we weren’t playing together as a team,” McGraw said. “And we had guys who were questioning each other in the game, and not thinking about playing, and not thinking about doing what they have to do. So in the second half, all we did was make the adjustment that we had to play a little quicker, pass to each other a little bit better, keep looking for each other, and just play the way we’re capable of playing. And we did, and it worked out.”

No. 1 Lewiston (13-0-2) scored less than five minutes in when Jama Abdullahi fed Bilal Hersi in the box for a goal. The No. 8 Vikings (7-8) nearly equalized off the ensuing kick, but Spencer Strong’s shot rang off the post 15 seconds later.

“Certainly, if we had tucked that ball in the net we would have had a lot of momentum coming from it, but it’s unfortunate we couldn’t convert,” Vikings coach Matt Dieterich said.

The score stayed 1-0 at half, despite seven Blue Devil shots on goal.

“Just working hard, and we certainly didn’t get adventurous offensively, and tried to stay back,” Dieterich said.

It also helped that junior goalie Sam Morton made a handful of difficult saves during what Dieterich called “a great half.”

The first half wasn’t so great for the Blue Devils’ high standards.

“We talked about it (at halftime). Our coach really told us, ‘This second half, it’s got to change,'” senior Ahmed “Safi” Abadir said. “So us captains talked together and said, ‘Let’s move the ball really well.'”

The ball certainly got rolling for the Blue Devils, and quickly.

Abadir opened the second-half scoring 2:35 in, slipping behind the defense to get to a Hersi through-ball before beating a sliding Morton. Abadir then passed across the box to Abdilahi Abdi for another goal 17 seconds later, with a Vikings defender putting the ball in the back of the net while trying to clear Abdi’s shot.

“Bilal came up to me and said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Let’s get more. There’s more,'” Abadir said.

There were two more goals from Abadir to complete a hat trick. Joel Musese assisted on the first of the two, then defender Enock Citenga fed Abadir for his third goal.

“They started going a little bit more direct through the back, and they’d burn our outside backs. But, you know, they’re quick,” Dieterich said. “I was a little surprised they didn’t do more of that in the first half.”

The Blue Devils now advance to the regional semifinals, where they’ll play the winner of No. 4 Brunswick and No. 5 Mt. Blue, who play Wednesday.

Morton finished with 14 saves, and Dieterich said he’s lucky to get his keeper back next year. Lewiston senior Dido Lumu stopped the only on-frame shot sent his way.

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Cooper Millett of Lewiston High School zeroes in on a breakaway ball during Tuesday’s matchup against Oxford Hills in Lewiston. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Bilal Hersi, right, of Lewiston High School congratulates Ahmed Abadir after Abadir scored his third goal of the second half to put the Blue Devils 5-0 over Oxford Hills on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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