Lewiston’s Nasip Abdi gets a head on a direct kick, clearing it out of the zone as other Blue Devils defend Edward Little players during Saturday’s Class A North semifinal in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Losses always sting, but they can provide valuable lessons.

The Lewiston boys soccer team’s setbacks this season helped the team self-reflect and for a postseason run that continues Tuesday, when the No. 4 Blue Devils (11-4-1) face No. 3 Brunswick (12-3-1) in the Class A North regional final at Cony High School at 4 p.m.

“The way we think about it is stuff happens for a reason,” senior fullback Obed Antonio said. “Soccer, there’s always one winner and one loser. We don’t let losses to get in our hearts and we don’t let winning get in our heads. Our coach (Dan Gish) always says to take it one game at a time; losing is a part of the game, learn from it. We focus on one game at a time.”

Although there are nine seniors on the rosters, Gish says the Blue Devils are a young team, and, therefore, errors were bound to happen during the season.

“This year was a learning curve because we are younger,” Gish said. “Sometimes you need to experience it in the game because the game is the best teacher. Guys listen during practice, but we structured it as a tiered approach. All right, we have to master the basics before we can move on. We did it collectively as a unit. We got better and better as a team. We don’t take anything for granted either: You have to earn everything.”



One of the first lessons the Blue Devils learned was they needed to get better in shape. After they lost to Camden Hills 2-1 in the first game of the season, Gish made the team run more the next practice.

“Our fitness wasn’t where it should be, and we were tired a little bit early in the year; we just had to build it up,” Gish said. “I said, ‘If you guys want to last in games, you need to be fit.’ We proved it (last week) — we played a playoff game with an extra 30 minutes. It wasn’t a punishment, but we did run a lot.”

Antonio will never forget that practice.

Lewiston’s Jacinto Mavinga gets control of the ball before Edward Little’s Tudum Monday can make a play on it during Saturday’s playoff game in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Coach always reminds us of what we are capable of,” Antonio said. “He always tells us the truth, and when we don’t play to our capability, he lets us know that. He makes us own our (mistakes). One time after a loss, he made us run, the most I have ever run. He wants us to own our mistakes; that’s what I like about him.”

Running became a team activity on the days when there were no practices. The players said that putting in extra work has helped them improve and get closer to the team’s ultimate goal, another state title.

“We do run together and practice on our off days because we really want it,” junior defender Abdishakur Nur said. “Our seniors are hard on us because they really want to win that (state championship). We listen to them.”


Senior defenseman Abduljabaar Abdi said the seniors want to go out on top — the Blue Devils haven’t won a state championship since 2018 when the senior class was in eighth grade.

“It’s really important to me and the (other) seniors — we really want to go out and win something for the school, my community, and the coaching staff,” Abdi said. “We have worked hard, and we deserve it, but we got to take it one game at a time.”

Running and other team activities have allowed the players to get to know each other better.

“(The bond) has grown tremendously; I even got to know more people; and even the friends I had (on the team), I have gotten to know them better because of the team bonding we had,” Nur said.

Gish said the players want to win for their fellow teammates.

“It’s a good group because they do it for each other,” Gish said. “They are close and it’s a good team environment, it really is.”



The players have been close with each other since the start of the season, but team bonding has helped improve their communication.

“When we communicate as defenders, we perform better, but the times we don’t communicate, it’s a small mistake that we can avoid,” Abdishakur Nur said. “Communicating is the biggest thing for our team. If we don’t communicate, it’s very hard for us to understand what to do.”

The team also needed to integrate new players this season. For instance, the defense added Caden Boone, a former Lisbon player. Abdi said it took half the season to develop strong communication.

“At the beginning of the season, it was pretty hard for a couple of guys to communicate with each other because some guys didn’t know each other or they were new here,” Abdi said. “We overcame that, and we got stronger as a team.”



A 4-1 loss to Edward Little on Oct. 18 helped the Blue Devils recognize the harsh truth of the postseason: that every game could be their last of the season.

Lewiston has taken care of business in the Class A North playoffs, earning its first victories of the season over Camden Hills (after two earlier losses) and over Edward Little (after a loss and a tie) to reach the regional final.

“That loss helped us a lot; it was our last regular season game before playoffs,” Abdi said Monday. “It just woke us up and helped us a lot to advance by Camden Hills (in the quarterfinals). And we advanced against EL (in the semifinals). We will see how we do tomorrow.”

Lewiston goalie Payson Goyette, middle, is swarmed by teammates after time runs out in Saturday’s 1-0 Class A North semifinal victory over Edward Little at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Nur said the loss to the Red Eddies hit the Blue Devils hard, but it also motivated them.

“After that EL game, we literally cried, for a lot of us,” Nur said. “We didn’t ever want to experience that feeling ever again. We played our hardest, we tried harder, we focused more and we give it 110 percent in games because we are trying to win those championships.”

The Blue Devils don’t have a score to settle with Brunswick. They won the only meeting this season with the Dragons, 3-2, on Oct. 4. But even victories offer a lot for the Lewiston players and coaches to learn from.

“No game is perfect,” Gish said. “We use a lot of video analysis and share that with the team. We have a lot of film sessions looking at our play and other team’s play. We are just learning what we need to do on a case-by-case basis, game management, and things like that. We have learned a lot from each other.”

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