LEWISTON — Two-time defending state champ Lewiston was left stunned a few times during Saturday night’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal, but the Blue Devils still felt jubilation at the end.

Bilal Hersi curled a direct kick from 28 yards out around a Messalonskee wall and inside the right post to give top-seeded Lewiston a 3-2 overtime victory over the fifth-seeded Eagles at Don Roux Field.

Lewiston’s Leandro Auger and Messalonskee’s Tucker Charles tussle for control of the ball during Saturday’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Bilal’s bent shot was absolutely amazing,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “From where I was standing you could see that it was going to be impossible for that keeper to get to it. It was a tremendous shot.”

Stunningly, the Eagles (8-6-2) scored first, less than five minutes into the game. A Lewiston (14-1-1) defensive clear attempt toward the goal bounced in, and Messalonskee’s Isaac Violette got credit for the goal because he was the last Eagle to touch the ball.

“Sometimes you get lucky putting it on net,” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “Good things happen when you put it on goal sometimes.”

“It was early in the game, and our kids know that they can get an equalizer,” McGraw said. “They know they can score when they have to.”

The Blue Devils offense eventually picked up its play, but not before Messalonskee goalie Andrew Mayo made four tough saves, including a one-hander and a diving punch denial. He was helpless, however, when Abdilahi Abdi took an open strike from the top-left corner of the box just past the midway point of the first half, tying the game 1-1.

Abdi’s goal came less than a minute after Messalonskee had a goal disallowed. Hunter Smith had headed the ball in, but he was deemed to have interfered with Lewiston goalie Yahya Heri’s leaping save attempt inside the goalie box.

Bilal Hersi, who had assisted on Abdi’s goal, got one of his own thanks to a forceful boot and a fortunate bounce. His cross from the right corner went in off Mayo, who couldn’t corral the hard hit with 12:34 left in the first half.

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

Mayo (eight saves) secured a similar ball later in the half to help keep the Eagles within striking distance at 2-1 at halftime.

“We kind of played more defensive-minded, we brought people inside, we man-marked Bilal,” Sheridan said. “In most situations it was working pretty well tonight.”

Hersi had three solid shots to score another goal in the second half but was denied by Mayo each time, including one on a counter run by Hersi after the Blue Devils quickly cleared away a Messalonskee corner kick. He also had a potential goal waved off after being whistled for pushing off a defender before a shot in the box.

“He played really well, and especially in the second half,” Hersi said of Mayo.

The Eagles had few chances to net the equalizer, but they finally did with 17 seconds left when Nathan Milne sent a turnaround shot from the top-left corner of the box past Heri and into the bottom-right corner of the goal.

Lewiston’s Abdilahi Abdi boots the ball into the goal over Messalonskee’s Benoit Levesque during Saturday’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Nate Milne’s been strong for us all year long up front,” Sheridan said. “You know, that was a tremendous goal to have with 17 seconds left. He didn’t quit, kept going hard and right until the bitter end.”

“We knew Messalonskee was not going to give up. There was no quit in them,” McGraw said. “And when there’s time on the clock it’s time for anybody to win.”

The Eagles had a “gift” of an opportunity, according to McGraw, in the first minute of overtime when a deliberate Blue Devils pass to Heri resulted in an indirect kick deep in the box for Messalonskee, but a quick tap to Smith for a shot went off the side of the net.

Hersi’s kick came with 10:31 left in overtime, and when earlier in the season he would have let freshman brother Khalid take the try, the senior captain took it instead.

“I was thinking just kicking it (on the insole), just bending it into the bottom-lower corner because I shot a couple shots at him up high and the keeper kind of got it, so I just wanted to place it into the bottom corner,” Hersi said.

“I’m just glad we won and I helped my team win,” he added. “It was just a surreal moment. I can’t believe it still.”

Lewiston’s Romano Bassa, left, and Messalonskee’s Cameron Croft keep their eye on the ball during Saturday’s Class A North boys soccer semifinal in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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