AUGUSTA — Mt. Abram High School boys soccer coach Darren Allen was in the middle of a workout Thursday when athletic director Kristina Stevens came in with some news.

The decision was in. Soccer was a go for the fall, albeit with some restrictions.

“I screamed in jubilation,” he said. “I was excited. I’m excited for the kids. It’s what I live for every fall. … Every fall is soccer, and this would have been the first fall without soccer in eons.”

It won’t be, however, as the Maine Principals’ Association, along with state officials, announced that it would sponsor boys and girls soccer and field hockey this fall, giving life to two sports that faced uncertain fates going into the week.

“The opportunity to play is all we asked,” Allen said. “I did not want to get my hopes up. I was just preparing myself for the worst.”

“It was a lot of relief. It was a long waiting game, with many delays, a lot of nerves and a lot of frustration along the way,” Mt. Ararat field hockey coach Krista Chase added. “But also a lot of hope. I could tell that people were working really hard to try to make some type of season happen for as many sports as possible.”


The news for soccer and field hockey came with a caveat. There will be no playoffs for either sports this season, and the schedules will be limited to 10 games. The season will also run until Nov. 14.

After a summer spent wondering if there’d be a season at all, however, it wasn’t enough to crush the joy.

“In a normal year, it would be total disappointment,” Chase said. “But all I care about is working with student-athletes, outside, on a field, together. … I am so grateful to be able to continue working with student-athletes who have had their worlds turned upside down.”

The Skowhegan field hockey team gets some work in Friday afternoon at the high school. Field hockey teams will be playing games this fall. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“You always want more, but I think we’re happy just that we’re having a season,” Greely boys soccer coach Mike Andreasen said. “It was nice for them to finally say ‘You know what? Let’s get these kids out on the field.’ Even if it’s not playing for championships, or even if it’s not playing the full 14-game schedule, it’s still a good thing. It’s still a really good thing.”

Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty, whose program has won 19 state championships in 29 seasons, praised the MPA’s work to get a plan together after the state overruled initial guidelines.

“The kids have been depressed, down in the dumps. I’ve been coaching kids for 46 years, and I’ve never seen kids so down in the dumps as they have been in the last few months,” she said. “I would talk to them and say ‘Don’t give up hope, we’re going to stay positive, we’re going to stay in shape,’ and their faces were just blank.


“Am I glad that we’re going to play? Yep. … Even though it’s going to meager, it’s very good news.”

The Yarmouth boys soccer team has been formidable as well with five Class B titles in six years, but coach Mike Hagerty said the team is thrilled to play, even without the chance to add more hardware.

“(The team) was nervous, especially the seniors, some of whom had lost their spring sport,” he said. “We have over 50 kids that play soccer; of that, I think 97 percent of them play multiple sports. … They were certainly anxious, but I was really proud of them. They did a fabulous job staying fit and staying ready in case we did have a season. … We have a lot to be thankful for in Yarmouth, and we have a lot to be grateful for, and we remind our kids of that often.”

Still, coaches acknowledged the difficult blow.

“I was totally expecting it, but the girls were not,” said Winslow field hockey coach Mary Beth Bourgoin, whose team won the Class B championship last season. “When I broke the news to them, it didn’t go without tears. … I’ve got some great players and I’ve got some tough players, and to see tough players cry is not easy.”

Skowhegan field hockey players compete during a drill Friday afternoon in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Waterville boys soccer coach Kerry Serdjenian lost only three players, and his team was expecting to take a jump forward this fall.


“I’m 90 percent overjoyed for the boys that they’re going to get the opportunity to play soccer,” he said. “I think, of course, you feel for them, especially the seniors, that it’s not the same experience maybe that everyone else has had in the past.”

Dave Halligan, head coach for the Falmouth boys soccer team — the defending Class A champions — said he’s happy his team will hit the pitch this year, but was not happy with the length of time the process took to reach a decision.

“We’re happy we have a season,” Halligan said. “I’m not happy that it took so long. They could have done a better job of planning. Right now, for us and the kids, what we’ve got to do is make the most of the situation, make this as positive for the kids as possible. Not dwell on what we can’t do, but look forward to what we can do.”

They can play, which football and volleyball teams won’t be able to do this fall. And which soccer and field hockey coaches said was on their minds, and on their players’ minds as well.

“It’s kind of bittersweet, because it’s so sad for the football team and the volleyball team,” Gardiner field hockey coach Sharon Gallant said. “I’ve got those students in my classes, so it was really hard to be happy today when I’m watching some young men that I just absolutely love be crushed. That’s the bitter part of the pill there.”

Mt. Ararat’s Chase had the same feelings.


“We’re celebrating within our little field hockey community, but then our hearts are also breaking for (football and volleyball) athletes and coaches and programs and parents,” she said. “I’m so excited for field hockey, and there’s a part of me that feels a little guilty for it.”

At the same time, soccer and field hockey coaches know an outbreak could mean a similar fate.

“(We’re) not out of the water yet. Anytime you’re not out of the water yet, you can still get bitten by the shark,” Greely’s Andreasen said. “Even though it is official, it can be unofficial very fast.”

“I think they’re starting to feel hopeful that they’re not going to be disappointed again,” Doughty said. “But I don’t think they’re completely there. I don’t think they will be completely there until they’re on the field.”

Staff writer Dave Dyer contributed to this report.

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