PORTLAND – The moment to remember a son, a brother, a classmate, had arrived. Lined up on the sideline with his Portland High teammates, Pat Cormier let his head drop.

Soon, Evan Michaelski’s arm went around Cormier’s shoulder. On the other side, Andrew Schwartz’s gloved hand rested on the small of Cormier’s back. The contact was meant to comfort. Teenagers do understand grief.

Pat Cormier lost his brother suddenly, terribly, Thursday night when Garrett Cormier’s sports utility vehicle went off a road and overturned. Two days later, Pat ran onto the turf at Fitzpatrick Stadium with the unbeaten Portland lacrosse team for the pregame warmup. The state championship game with Scarborough awaited.

The Maine Principals’ Association, sensitive to the emotions of a family and team, offered to postpone the game. Thank you but no, said the Cormiers through Rich Drummond, the Portland athletic director. Play the game.

As honorary captain, Cormier took the first faceoff, left the field and climbed the steps to his family sitting alone, high in the visiting grandstands. He embraced them before returning to his teammates.

“They’re his brothers, too,” said Drummond. Saturday the field would be their sanctuary. But not their victory. A good Scarborough team won the game 8-6 and the state title.

Sometimes you overlook when simply being among teammates is more important than a great goal scored or saved. When the worst of times can be shared.

Two hours earlier it was the best of times on the same field when teammates couldn’t hug each other and scream their pure joy loud enough. The Scarborough girls beat Mt. Ararat for the state Class A title, capping an astonishing season for the seniors who played on three unbeaten title teams — field hockey, basketball and lacrosse.

The Scarborough track team was dominant. The Scarborough softball team reached the Western Maine championship game before losing. This run of success and championships may not be duplicated again by any Maine high school.

Ellie Morin, who played on all three unbeaten teams, found it hard to put into words. To win and win and win without losing is a dream. They not only lived it for themselves but with teammates they’ve always known.

“They’ve always been my friends and my teammates,” said Brittany Ross, who was part of this amazing triple crown. “Since fifth grade we’ve been together. I can’t tell you what that’s been like.”

I noticed they all wore wristbands with the intials S and D. For Steve Delano, I asked, mentioning the name of a classmate who died months earlier in a car accident.

“For Steve Delano and Garrett Cormier,” said Morin. “For both of them.”

That’s when you understood that school colors became blurred. That teen athletes don’t always have to keep their eyes and hearts on the prize. They can look away and be aware of hurt and pain.

Steve Delano’s father worked with Garrett Cormier’s dad at Portland High. When Scarborough Athletic Director Gary Groves heard of Thursday’s accident, he picked up the phone and called Drummond.

Yes, the call discussed the possible postponement. They also talked more personally. Are you OK, Groves asked Drummond. Anything I can do?

Scarborough lacrosse coach Joe Hezlep called Portland Coach Eric Begonia. How could they remember Garrett and support Pat? How could they do it as teams who were rivals, reaching for the same goal.

Easily, as it turned out.

No one can weigh the heaviness of Portland hearts and how it affected their play. That would diminish Scarborough’s victory.

The game lost and the title, too, Portland regrouped around its bench. Sticks were tossed to the ground. Fists slammed the metal bench. Bodies milled around, despondent, angry, frustrated.

That’s when Pat Cormier leaned over and consoled Seamus Kilbride with an arm around his shoulder and words said in his ear.

Afterward, when Portland received its rewards as state runner-up, Cormier’s name was called to come forward. He carried his brother’s jersey with its No. 16 very visible. Garrett was part of this team until a shoulder injury sidelined him.

Cheers and applause greeted Cormier. The noise was especially loud.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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