PORTLAND – The Deering High boys’ soccer roster had one change Thursday night: an asterisk next to the name of Mohamed Hassan.

It was a minor change but very significant.

Hassan drowned Saturday while swimming with friends in the Presumpscot River. He was a well-respected senior for the Rams, who honored him with a memorial remembrance before the game against Noble at Memorial Field.

Abdirizaq Hassan and Edgar Gonzalez led the Rams onto the field for warmups, holding Hassan’s No. 7 jersey, which was placed on the Rams’ bench.

Each player wore a black armband with Hassan’s number, and Joel Costigan, Deering’s first-year coach, made a poignant speech, ending by announcing Hassan would be an honorary captain for the team.

“We knew it was going to be an emotional time back,” said Costigan. “It was a tough game to play in.”

Deering won 2-0, getting first-half goals by Brandon Saucier and Gonzalez, then holding off a game Noble effort. Deering goalkeeper Jamie Gullbrand made several saves in the final six minutes to keep the shutout.

“I think nerves got to us,” said Costigan. “Just because of the anticipation of the game and for what it meant. We didn’t play our best soccer; we didn’t play like we’re used to playing. But it’s expected considering the circumstances.”

For the Rams, the night was all about honoring Hassan.

“This whole game was all for him,” said Gonzalez. “He loved the game of soccer so much.”

“It was definitely tough,” said Gullbrand. “The entire game, we’re obviously thinking of Mohamed. We were playing for him. We’re going to play the rest of the season for him. So of course it was tough.”

Gonzalez said carrying Hassan’s jersey onto the field was a special moment in his life. Gullbrand will remember when the Noble team presented a memorial wreath to him and his fellow captain, Nathan Finberg.

“That meant a lot to us,” said Gullbrand. “Their players were unbelievably respectful.”

Matt Foster, the Noble coach, said his players came up with the idea of presenting the wreath, which was placed next to Hassan’s jersey on the bench.

“I think the boys really it hit home,” said Foster.

“I think for a lot of teenagers in high school, they think they’re invincible. This kind of was a wake-up check for them. I’m real proud of the way the guys handled it.”

Once the game started, it was all soccer.

Saucier scored on the game’s first good chance, putting in a low shot from the right wing about 20 yards out 11:49 in. With 15:22 left in the half, Gonzalez was credited with the second goal when his pass from the left corner went in off a Noble defender.

Gullbrand made his best stops on Jake Emard, who had a couple of hot shots from the top of the box.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH