BATH — Lewiston reaped the benefits of having midfielder Suab Nur back in the Class A North regional final at McMann Field on Tuesday.

Bilal Hersi set up Nur for the game’s first goal and opened up space for Nur’s second as the top-seeded Blue Devils took down second-seeded Brunswick 3-1 in the A North boys soccer final.

Lewiston (15-1-1) will face A South’s No. 2 team, Falmouth (14-2-1), at Hampden Academy on Saturday in the Class A championship, the Blue Devils’ fourth state title game appearance in five years.

Lewiston High School seniors Suab Nur, left, Moubarek Abdourahman, Bilal Hersi and Abdilahi Abdi celebrate with the Maine Principals’ Association trophy after beating Brunswick 3-1 to win the Class A North regional championship in Bath on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Nur didn’t play in Lewiston’s semifinal against No. 5 Messalonskee on Saturday, which the Blue Devils won on an overtime goal by Hersi.

The anticipation for Tuesday evening’s game was even greater for Nur because of the absence the previous game, and he seemed to play with an extra kick in his step. 

Thirteen minutes into the first half, Hersi received a long pass down the right side. He then cut towards the right post of the goal before sending a perfect low cross to a waiting Nur, who buried the shot for a 1-0 lead. 

“I was very, very excited,” Nur said. “I couldn’t sleep last night because I was thinking about this game. I was focused today, in school and before the game started. When it started, Bilal gave me a nice ball and I scored.”

Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said Nur adds another level of depth to the Blue Devils’ offense, which is extra important in big games such as Tuesday’s.

“He’s big because he knows Bilal very well and they play well together,” McGraw said of Nur. “He’s a finisher and every team needs a player who can finish, besides Bilal. Bilal, the closer he gets to the 18, the more people that are on him.”

Suab Nur of Lewiston surveys the field before passing while being defended by Coendradt Taylor of Brunswick in Bath on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Stopping Hersi is the focus of every defense the Blue Devils face, which opens up space and provides opportunities for the team’s other finishers, such as Nur.

“Our goal this playoffs has been to find each other more,” Hersi said. “We know individually that we can create our own stuff, but the biggest thing is if we play with each other we can create many more chances. He can score more, I can score more. Finding him on that ball, I needed to give him confidence because the more confidence Suab has, the better the player he is and he always shows up in big games.”

Hersi and Nur synced up on a few plays in the first half, but Brunswick goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton made save after save to stifle the Blue Devils’ potent attack.

Dragons forward Lane Foushee had a couple of solid chances, but his rocket leg was too strong a couple of times, when his shots went wide or high. 

Foushee’s best chance came with six minutes left in the first half when his shot from about 20 yards out forced Lewiston goalkeeper Yahya Heri to dive to his left and push the ball to the side. 

The Blue Devils led 1-0 at halftime, which was too close for their liking. 


Ten minutes into the second half, Hersi lined up from 28 yards out for a free kick from the right side, almost in line with the right goal post. Hersi bent the ball up and around the Brunswick wall before it bounced on the goal line and past the diving Wolverton for the game’s second goal. 

“That one gave us a sense of, ‘Now we’ve got this,’” Hersi said. “In a one-goal game, any lucky bounce and it can be 1-1. So getting that goal gave us a sense of, ‘If we do what we need to do defensively, then we can win.’”

McGraw said the phenomenal free kick eased a bit of the pressure on the Blue Devils, who won the past two state championships.

“It was huge because a one-goal lead is very tenuous, and they say two-goal leads are dangerous because if your opponent scores one then they get encouraged,” McGraw said. “The first goal was huge, but the second goal, that gave us a little more breathing room.”

Brunswick continued to attack and stuck to its game plan. After losing to Lewiston 4-2 in the regular season, the Dragons knew they needed to score often to stay in the contest.

“We played them before, and once they score that first goal, it puts you on your heels a little bit,” Brunswick coach Mark Roma said. “We knew we had to score goals, whether it was one or two, we knew we had to score goals. We didn’t want to concede goals, but at no point did we think we were out of it.”

Brunswick goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton, left, defends his goal as Lewiston players crash the net during a Blue Devils corner kick in Bath on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

With 7:20 left in the game, Nur got the ball around 25 yards out and dribbled by a couple of Brunswick defenders before ripping a cross-goal shot into the far-right corner to extend Lewiston’s lead to 3-0. 

“I was just dribbling and beat, like, three players, then I took the shot and it went in,” Nur said.

The attention Hersi garners from defenders freed up space for Nur on his second goal.

Lewiston coach Mike McGraw talks with his players during Tuesday’s game against Brunswick. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“The biggest thing is, I create a lot of space for my teammates and if I move anywhere then there are going to be four guys follow me,” Hersi said. “I feel like that is what got him that little space he needed for the goal.”

Brunswick’s Alfonso Miguel scored for the Dragons with 2:25 left in regulation to cut the deficit to 3-1. 

McGraw said the Blue Devils’ backups have played an important role in the team’s playoff success.

“Our second team gets a lot of credit for simulating our opponent because they had to do the same thing that Brunswick did, that Mt. Ararat did, that Messalonskee did, and they have done a great job simulating,” McGraw said.

Abdullahi Abdullahi, center, of Lewiston and Ben Guindon of Brunswick compete for the ball during Tuesday’s game in Bath. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Sebastian Matheus-Miguel of Brunswick reacts after the Dragons lost to Lewiston 3-1 in the Class A North regional final in Bath on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Water drops kick up from the playing field as Khalid Hersi of Lewiston kicks the ball during Tuesday’s game against Brunswick in Bath. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

 


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