Noralddin Othman usually takes free kicks for the Lewiston boys’ soccer team.

What’s not typical is Othman calling out teammate Warsame Ali’s name beforehand, as he did in overtime of the Class A state championship game Saturday against Portland.

“That was a first,” said Ali, a sophomore midfielder. “For a player like me, getting any goals is not me. I play, I assist. So getting the goal in the state game is amazing.”

From roughly 40 yards, Othman took the indirect kick and placed the ball in Portland’s box, where Ali headed it in with 5:49 left in the first overtime for a 1-0 victory at Deering High’s Memorial Field.

“The ball came in, and all I was thinking was, ‘Jump,'” Ali said. “I’m happy, especially for my brother (Muktar, a senior). This is his last year, so I had to do it for him.”

Under the leadership of Coach Rocco Frenzilli, who helped start Portland’s program in 1972, Portland (13-4-1) has advanced to three state championship games but has yet to win a title.

“It’s a cruel game,” Frenzilli said with a chuckle. “Every one of these kids – including the zero-minute kids – they gave us everything. That’s what got us here. … I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

The Blue Devils (14-2-2) won their first state title just two years ago. But to Lewiston Coach Mike McGraw, that didn’t make this victory any less sweet.

“It means everything,” McGraw said, pausing as he choked up. “It means everything because they’re so special. I’m comfortably numb.”

With solid defense and aggressive goalkeeping, neither team got many shots on goal. Lewiston’s Dido Lumu finished with three saves, while Portland’s Rowan Daligan had two saves.

Fifteen minutes into the game, Portland’s Pedro Fonseca created his first of many scoring chances with a long throw-in. He launched the ball into the box, where Zekariya Shaib headed it just wide of the goal.

Lewiston defender Henok Citenga was charged with the difficult task of covering Fonseca, which McGraw said he did “tremendously.”

Lewiston controlled the latter portion of the first half, producing six corner kicks in the last 20 minutes. Daligan punched out back-to-back corner kicks to keep the game scoreless. Neither team put a shot on goal in those 40 minutes.

“Portland’s defense, most of them were tall, and they’re really good in the air,” Othman said. “In the second half, we started to communicate and get the ball down, and then we kept attacking them.”

Both teams had chances in the second half. Four minutes into the half, Portland’s Samuel Nkurunziza nearly converted an Alex Millones corner kick after Lumu failed to punch the ball away. In the chaos, though, Nkurunziza’s shot sailed just wide. Less than a minute later, Quinn Clarke headed a Tahn Tiparos corner kick on target, but Lumu caught it.

At the other end, Muktar Ali fired a low, hard shot that Daligan collected with a diving save.

Six minutes later, Fonseca fed a through ball to Dana Hinchliffe, who forced Lumu to make a diving stop.

With regulation time winding down and the intensity mounting, Daligan leaped up and snagged a Yusuf Mohamed cross, preventing a dangerous situation. A minute later, Lumu collided with Fonseca, who was on a breakaway, and Lewiston’s Alinoor Deqow cleared the ball before Portland could capitalize on the open net.

Lewiston’s final chance of regulation came when Mohamed got the ball downfield with just Daligan between him and the goal. But Daligan charged and slid for the ball, knocking it out of Mohamed’s possession.

“Their goalkeeper is phenomenal – he came up so big today,” McGraw said. “To beat him, it was going to take a beautiful moment and a brilliant play, and it happened.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: TaylorVortherms

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