Lewiston boys soccer senior Bilal Hersi, right, and his freshman brother Khalid. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Khalid Hersi watched and anxiously waited, and now he gets his chance.

In some ways his first chance, in another way it’s his final chance.

Hersi has been a spectator as his older brother, Bilal, has helped the Lewiston boys soccer team win back-to-back state championships the past two years, and Khalid said, “I just wanted to go on the field and do it myself.”

“I’ve been watching his games for the last three years, and I could just imagine myself on that field,” Khalid said. “He went to two states, and I can imagine myself on that field winning one.”

Khalid will have a chance for his first state title, while Bilal gets his final chance in his last high school game this Saturday (3 p.m.) when the Blue Devils face Falmouth in the Class A state championship at Hampden Academy.

“For me, as a senior and having a sibling on the team, this one’s going to be a big one,” Bilal said. “This one’s going to be a special one.”

It’s been an “amazing” season together for the senior and freshman brothers, according to Bilal.

“It’s been something we’ve been waiting for for a while,” he said. “Ever since we’ve been little kids, we’ve just been playing each other outside in the park, and it’s just something that I was looking forward to. And that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t leave and go play academy and stuff like that, and he didn’t leave this year. It’s just something we’ve been waiting for, and I’m just glad we ended up playing with each other.”

It wasn’t a certainty that it would happen. First Khalid had to make the varsity team as a freshman, which Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said only happens every four years or so. Bilal made the varsity team as a freshman as well, but many Lewiston players don’t crack the varsity roster or get any playing time until they are upperclassmen.

Lewiston’s Bilal Hersi stays in control of the ball as Messalonskee’s Benoit Levesque defends during last Saturday’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

But Khalid worked hard to earn his spot.

“I think, to be honest, it’s the work ethic he put in in the summer,” said the pair’s older brother and Lewiston assistant coach Abdijabar Hersi. “He went through a fitness program, he worked on his technical part of the game of soccer.”

McGraw said that from what he’s heard from some who saw Khalid’s games as an eighth-grader, the improvement he made heading into this season was significant.

“He’s a solid player,” McGraw said. “He’s got three years to grow. He’s got three years to mature. He opened the season with a goal, which says quite a bit.”

Khalid also watched Bilal go through the same thing, as well as Abdijabar and another brother, Ali.

“You know, it’s a funny story,” Abdijabar said. “Me and Ali, when I was a senior at Lewiston my other brother was a freshman on the varsity team. And it almost reminded me of that, you know? I think they enjoy it. They push each other. I can see Bilal all the time talking to him, ‘Hey, do this, do this.'”

Lewiston’s Khalid Hersi threads the ball between Messalonskee’s Justin Sardano and Tucker Charles during last Saturday’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Like Khalid, Bilal said he grew up watching his brothers play for Lewiston and waiting for his turn.

“Having brothers that played through this, it’s so exciting because you live it through them when you’re young,” Bilal said. “And basically going through what they went through, or even better, honestly, it’s just an amazing experience.”

“It’s nice to have a brother on your team, that you can play with on the field,” Khalid said.

Bilal said his and Khalid’s styles “combine a lot,” which has made them both better players.

“I’m just very happy and I’m proud of him for stepping up and being able to handle the pressure, coming into freshman year,” Bilal said.

There will be no bigger pressure than Saturday’s state championship game. It will be the end of what McGraw said has been a “magical” experience getting to watch Bilal and Khalid play together.

Hampden Academy’s Collin Scobie, left, and Tetsushi Okada, right, try to contain Lewiston’s Bilal Hersi during last month’s game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“It’s going to be a special one. I just hope we win,” Khalid said.

“It’s our last game together, it’s the last game for me, it’s just going to be a big one,” Bilal said. “I’m going to do everything possible to win for Lewiston, win for me, win for my brother, win for family.”


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