Freeport’s Ally Randall defends Leavitt’s Ginny Twitchell in the 2019 field hockey season. Eric Maxim / The Times Record

FREEPORT — Carly Intraversato was ready to sacrifice her senior year if she had to, but she was not willing to give up her senior soccer season, even if it had to look different than she planned.

So, when the Maine Principals’ Association ruled earlier this month that most fall sports would be allowed, and the Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors followed suit Wednesday night, the Freeport High School soccer captain and her teammates breathed a sigh of relief. 

Now, with a few practices and scrimmages under her belt, Intraversato said her team is adapting well to the new regulations requiring distance, masks and regular sanitizing — they’re just happy to be able to play. 

Soccer joins field hockey, cross country, golf and cheer in the list of sports allowed by the MPA, which oversees high school athletics statewide. Tackle football and volleyball though, one being close contact and the other indoor, will not be offered. 

Guidelines require that all athletes, coaches and spectators must wear a mask, but athletes can remove masks while competing or doing vigorous exercise. Schools must restrict spectators to 100 people, including the teams, coaches and officials, per Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order, and all practices must take place outdoors.

Other restrictions mandate that soccer and field hockey will play a maximum of 10 games between Sept. 25 and Nov. 14, but for the first time in nearly five decades, won’t hold a postseason, according to the Forecaster. 

Despite the MPA ruling, the decision is ultimately a local one. 

Wednesday evening, the board discussed requiring masks at all times, even during games and matches, or even allowing teams to practice but not compete, Michelle Ritcheson, board chair said, but ultimately voted to proceed with MPA guidelines as written. Wednesday’s vote finalized the decision after a straw poll two weeks prior allowed coaches to proceed with practices and scrimmages. Now the seasons can start in earnest.

David Intraversato, the Freeport High School girls’ soccer coach, said waiting for a decision and not having the answers was “nerve-racking,” but now that the team is able to play, “I can look past that knowing these kids are out there smiling and having a good time.” 

Starting the season several weeks late, there’s a definite difference in performance, not having been able to fully condition over the summer, he said.

It was disappointing to miss out on the postseason, but “we play for each other and we play to get better,” he said. “We’ll never live in a world that doesn’t have COVID. It’s there,” he added, so they just have to adapt. 

Rachel Wall, a forward and senior co-captain, agreed that it was hard not to have playoffs, when that’s “ultimately what we compete for every year,” but said she’s mostly just thankful to be able to play her senior season with her teammates. 

“I’ve been playing soccer with most of these girls since we were really little and could barely play,” she said. “We’re really competitive, but I mostly do it for the relationships.”

Carly Intraversato agreed. 

“There’s nothing like coming together with our friends as a team,” she said, and with everyone in different cohorts for the new hybrid model, soccer practice is the only time they can all be together. 

Ally Randall, Freeport High School field hockey captain, agreed. 

“Competing is fun, but it’s the sense of family,” she said. “This is my last year… I’m just glad to be on the field with (the team).”

Randall said she would happily have agreed to just have scrimmages if the alternative was to not play at all, but that she’s glad to be getting back into the season. 

“We had a scrimmage and it just felt right,” she said. “Honestly just the feeling of playing together is what we mainly missed.” 

Field hockey coach Marcia Wood echoed the sentiments. 

“They’d rather be out there playing than not, so we take what we can get,” she said, adding that as a coach, she’s thankful for the opportunity to help keep her players safe and that so far the increased safety measures have been going smoothly. 

“We want to see them out there as much as they want to be out there,” she said. “We have no idea when or if it’s going to get shut down, so we’re going to make the most of the time that we’re together.” 

 

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