LEWISTON, Maine — The playoff atmosphere at Don Roux Field settled more than Lewiston and Bangor ended up settling in Monday night’s KVAC boys’ soccer season finale.
A goal by Bangor’s Garth Berenyi in the 58th minute and Muktar Ali’s equalizer in the 75th minute sent the Blue Devils and Rams to a 1-1 tie in a thrilling defensive standoff.
The result clinched the No. 1 seed in Class A North for Edward Little — which won its finale against Oxford Hills Monday — while Bangor moved up to the No. 2 slot.
Lewiston was expecting a No. 3 or 4 seed, pending the outcome of Monday night’s game between Mt. Blue and Mt. Ararat.
Story continues below advertisement.
Both teams were hoping the Heal points from a victory would propel them into the top spot in the region. Although they were disappointed that didn’t happen, both were glad to get a taste of how competitive the tournament is shaping up to be.
“The best time to have that game is the last game of the season when you’re both prepping for playoffs,” Lewiston goalie Alex Rivet said. “You don’t want to play a bad team going into playoffs. You want to have that mentality that every team is going to be a big game, because it’s do-or-die, no matter what.”
“In the North, there are a lot of good teams,” Bangor coach Garth Berenyi said. “A win would have put as at No. 1. A loss would have put us at No. 4. Whoever we play, I feel like we match up pretty well, although I’ve got to say probably Lewiston was our stiffest test to date.”
Lewiston (11-2-1) outshot Bangor, 18-8, including 4-0 in the two five-minute overtime sessions. But the Blue Devils got very little going on their set pieces and lost most of the 50-50 balls to the bigger, stronger Rams.
“We got nothing,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “They were able to clear everything we had. That’s something we have worked on, but we haven’t solved the problem of getting there. We’ve just got to keep working at it.”
“We definitely made it our goal to win every 50-50,” the younger Berenyi said. “Carson Atherley won every single challenge he had. He’s really good with winning the knockdowns. We knew they had the flip throw in the corner, so we tried to keep it away from that as much as we could.”
Bangor (12-1-1) converted off a free kick from midfield by Atherley that Berenyi calmly gathered in front with his chest and guided into the far corner past Rivet (five saves) to break a scoreless tie with 21:50 left.
“I ran past my mark,” Berenyi said. “He went up for a header and missed it. I chested it. One guy came and I faked a shot, kind of went too far and then just tucked it in. It’s so easy to get a little frantic, especially with a team like this when we don’t have that many opportunities, we’ve got to make them count. So I just stayed composed and tucked it away.”
Ali tied it with a pretty turn-and-fire that beat Bangor goalie George Payne (six saves) to the upper right corner with 4:06 to go in regulation.
“It was unexpected,” Ali said. “I saw an opening in the net, so I just took it. I never thought it was going to go in but it did, so I’m very happy about it. We worked hard. (Bangor) is a very good team.”
Aside from a nice leaping save by Rivet to deny the Rams’ Colin Waterman in the 77th minute, the Devils had the bulk of the opportunities for the rest of regulation and overtime.
The adrenaline from Ali’s goal likely made Ben Musese to send a quality chance into orbit moments later. And a quick-thinking Atherley robbed Maulid Abdow when he tried to tuck a game-winner inside the left post in the first overtime.
“It was on the goal-line,” the younger Berenyi said. “Carson saved us for sure. I had a little heart attack.”
JV: Lewiston, 8-2