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

The Lewiston boys soccer team has established itself as the gold standard in Class A over the past half-decade, but to win a third-consecutive state title and fourth in five years the Blue Devils will have to beat an opponent from a program that is quite familiar with winning gold balls.

Falmouth and its longtime head coach Dave Halligan would love to add a Class A title to the nine it won in Class B and the two others it earned in Class C, all of which have come in the past 23 years under Halligan.

The Yachtsmen, however, haven’t been to a state final since winning their most recent Class B title in 2012. They moved up to Class A competition the following year, and this season was the first time they’d advanced to the regional final, let alone a state championship game.

Longtime Lewiston coach Mike McGraw isn’t surprise that this year’s team is the one to break through.

“Dave Halligan has probably the best team he’s had in about 20 years, and you know Dave’s reputation,” McGraw said. “I mean, he’s no stranger to state games, both in soccer and in basketball. The guy’s a phenomenal coach, and he’s got a phenomenal program. He’s been itching to get to this level, and I know so his kids are.”

Falmouth entered the Class A South playoffs as the No. 2 seed, with a 11-2-1 record that was identical to top-seeded and defending regional champ Gorham. The Yachtsmen even beat the Rams early in the year, but lost two of their final three games before the playoffs. Their regular-season finale was the only time all season they were shut out, 1-0, at home to Portland.

The Yachtsmen did the shutting out most of the season, holding opponents scoreless in seven of their 14 regular-season games with senior Jackson Quinn in goal. They allowed nine goals in the regular season, and only two in three games during the regional playoffs. That was capped off by a 2-1 win over Gorham in the South final.

Macklin Williams of Falmouth wins a header over Michael Darasz of Gorham. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

On offense, the Yachtsmen scored just over three goals per game in the regular season (43 in 14 games), and scored six and two in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

“Their danger is Gus Ford on the outside. He’s a terrific player. Charlie Adams on the other side, they have a two-prong attack that is outstanding,” McGraw said.

Lewiston, the North’s top seed, also features a dangerous duo in seniors Bilal Hersi and Suab Nur, who just so happened to team up to score the only goal in last year’s state championship victory. They have led a Blue Devils offense that scored 50 goals in the regular season (3.57 per game). Lewiston was only shut out once as well (in its only loss, 1-0 to Mt. Ararat), and otherwise scored at least two goals in every game.

The Blue Devil defense was nearly as stingy as Falmouth’s, giving up only 13 goals in 14 games. There were five shutouts and six one-goal games. The backs are led by seniors Moubarek Abdourahman and Ayub Hassan. Yahya Heri and Michael Belleau have split time in goal, with Heri getting the nod in the first three playoff games.

McGraw said the key for his team is to “maintain composure.”

“Take the shots that they allow us,” he said. “There are going to be things that they’re going to take away and we have to be good enough to recognize the things that they leave open for us to take advantage of, and then we have to take advantage of it.

“I mean, I’m sure it’s the same thing with them, for them to probe wherever we might provide an opening. I think it’s going to be a very tight game.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.