LEWISTON — The Lewiston boys soccer team, ranked No. 21 in the nation, might be better than the side that ran undefeated the school’s first of two state championships back in 2015.

Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith would like to enter his Cougars’ 2-0 Class A North semifinal loss to the top-seeded Blue Devils on Friday night at Don Roux Field as Exhibit A.

“They’re hard to contain,” Smith said. “You saw. There was stuff down the middle where they were just gashing us, and it was a lot of individual effort combined with just great team chemistry on their part.”

Suab Nur and Mardoche Kikobo each scored second-half goals to lead Lewiston (14-0-2), which advances to meet No. 2 Mt. Ararat in the regional semifinals next week.

The final score indicated a closer game that in probably was.

Though the two sides were drawn even at 0-0 at halftime, the only thing standing between Lewiston and a lead were the play of Mt. Blue goalkeeper Xander Gurney (13 saves) and the posts on either side of him.

The Blue Devils remained composed after the break — nearly cashing in inside of 10 minutes off the foot of either Joel Muese or Ahmed Abadir — before finally taking the lead through Nur in the 54th minute.

Two whiffed clearing attempts from the Cougar back line allowed Nur to collect the ball at the top of the six-yard box before sliding it home for a 1-0 lead.

“They’re poised and they understand,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said of his team’s ability to not be frustrated by a scoreless opening half. “We were more frustrated at ourselves not being able to score when we had some chances, but to Mt. Blue’s credit they’re blue-collar, they’re hard-working.”

No. 5 Mt. Blue (9-6-1) defended well for most of the night, settling in deep while trying to stretch Lewiston on the counter attack. The problem for the Cougars, though, was that the counter opportunities were so few and far between that they ended up with just one shot attempt on the night. Once they fell behind via Nur’s goal, they knew it was going to be a difficult rest of the evening.

“I didn’t want to chase a goal, no way. We wanted to be up, and I think we knew that going in,” Smith said. “We never could really get into a rhythm which would allow us to sustain any type of offensive push, and that hurt us on the defensive end. You can’t defend against that team for 80 minutes and hope to win.”

Lewiston’s superb outside back, Kikobo, played an instrumental role in the Blue Devils’ ability to generate attacking chances. Stepping up to intercept one errant clearing pass after another from Mt. Blue, Kikobo was rewarded with an insurance goal for himself in the 70th minute after spending the bulk of the night generating play off the wing for others.

“They leave this empty spot (in the midfield), so I wanted to take advantage of it,” Kikobo said. “Everybody relaxed and the other team kind of gave up a little bit (after the first goal).”

USA Today has the Blue Devils ranked inside the top 25 high school soccer teams in the country, and third in the New England region in the most recent poll released Tuesday. One more win in this postseason and the Blue Devils will have earned a spot in the Class A state championship game for the third time in four years.

“Lewiston’s a great team. A great team,” Smith said. “I think this team, as crazy as it could sound, is better than the team (that) won their first state championship with. I think this team’s had to work harder because this league has more parity than when they won it the first year.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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