LEWISTON — Every opponent that faces the Lewiston boys soccer team knows that the Blue Devils’ vaunted attack begins with senior Bilal Hersi.

Hampden Academy had seen Hersi twice this season prior to Wednesday’s Class A North quarterfinal, but the Broncos still had no defensive answer for Hersi, who scored three goals and assisted on two others in Lewiston’s 5-1 victory at Don Roux Field.

“Obviously, there’s a way (to stop him),” Hampden coach Paul Wellman said. “Tonight he really turned it on and I thought did a great job. And unfortunately there were times that we made it easy.

“But he’s a great player. I don’t want to discredit anything that he does because the skill set that he possesses clearly makes a big difference for that team and he sets the tempo for them quite a bit.”

The Blue Devils planned on the Broncos’ defense giving Hersi a lot of attention.

“We really worked this week on him being double-marked, as he has been,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “And our guys have been beating the crap out of him, and he’s been responding positively and getting things done.”


The ninth-seeded Broncos (6-9-1) played the top-seeded Blue Devils close both times during the regular season, with Lewiston winning 2-1 on the road to start the season and 2-0 at home in early October. The third time around, the Blue Devils reached two goals by halftime.

“I thought we got that first goal, that was a good sign. And then we got second, I knew that we were in pretty good shape,” Mike McGraw said.

Hersi’s passing nearly led to the top-seeded Blue Devils’ (13-1-1) first goal only 48 seconds into the game, but Leandro Auger’s shot missed high and wide.

Hersi instead started the scoring with his own foot, finishing off a feed from Suab Nur 7:26 into the game.

“I’ve actually, like, never been this focused coming into a game,” Hersi said. “I basically went in as, ‘This could be my last game,’ but I knew 100 percent that it wasn’t, and I was going to do everything possible — me, at least — to not let that happen.”

Broncos senior goalie Colby Small did his best to try to deny Hersi, and he did a handful of times, but Small was handcuffed 25 minutes in when Hersi went on a run off a long pass from the defensive end by Moubarek Abdourahman and blasted a shot past Small from the right side.


“He was a good goalie. He’s not as big as Mt. Ararat’s (James Singleton) or not as quick as ours, but his positioning is really well,” Hersi said. “And he had a good game.”

Hersi completed his hat trick three minutes into the second half, finishing off a series of passes, with Auger notching the assist, to make the Blue Devils’ lead 3-0.

Then Hersi went to work creating chances for others. Nur was on the receiving end from Hersi in the box after Small made an initial save less than 14 minutes into the second half, and five minutes later, Mohamedamin Nur finished off a Hersi feed to make it 5-0.

Hampden Academy’ s Morgan Tash, left, and Lewiston’s Abdilahi Abdi, jockey for position as they vie for a loose ball during Wednesday’s game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Broncos ended the shutout with just under 12 minutes to play when Tetsushi Okada made a few moves in the box and shot past Lewiston goalie Yahya Heri.

Heri finished with three saves, while Small stopped 13 of 18 shots he faced.

“Colby’s been a huge stalwart in the back. I mean, he’s bailed us out a lot of times and kept us games,” Wellman said. “Unfortunately we ran into a team that was very motivated and relentless tonight.”

The Blue Devils next face fifth-seeded Messalonskee in the regional semifinals. Lewiston had one of its best offensive games during the regular-season meeting against the Eagles, which was a 7-2 Blue Devils home win in mid-September. Hersi had five points (four goals, one assist) in that game as well.

“I just can’t wait to play the next round,” Hersi said, noting it will be his final home game. “This game is done, it’s gone, and I’m just focused to play on the next game against Messalonskee.”

Lewiston’s Abdilahi Abdi, middle, dribbles away from Hampden Academy’s Isaiah Dove during Wednesday’s game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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