OAKLAND — Still in the early stages of the grieving process, the first question some members of Messalonskee’s girls’ soccer team had Tuesday was whether the last three days were just a nightmare and they might see their friend and teammate again.

Once the inevitable, terrible answer came, the next question was whether the Eagles could summon the emotional and physical strength to play a game Tuesday afternoon against the Bangor Rams.

Administrators and coaches waited to hear from the players themselves, who since the death of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette in a hayride accident Saturday night in Mechanic Falls have had so little sleep and so many questions.

“We just let them make a decision on whether they felt they could go through with it today,” Messalonskee athletic director Tom Hill said.

“They came to us and said, ‘We want to play,'” head coach Penny Stansfield said.

Coaches and administrators still wondered whether the team would be emotionally and physically capable of playing a game so soon, Stansfield said.

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“The girls themselves said, ‘We’ve got to play at some point,'” she said. “Yet, it’s still a very raw wound. I myself and the girls are still in complete shock.”

After making grief counselors available Sunday and turning out to support the field hockey team on Monday, the Messlaonskee community continued to rally around its school and Charette’s teammates on Tuesday.

Prior to the game, teams from the high school and middle school formed a ring around the soccer field to show their support. Before heading to their game in Bangor later in the afternoon, the boys’ soccer team led the crowd in the school’s fight song.

A brief ceremony included a moment of silence for Charette, who was a talented junior center-midfielder for the Eagles. Bangor’s players and coaches presented each Messalonskee player and coach with a rose.

“A couple of our players (had the idea),” Bangor coach Joe Johnson said. “These kids play against each other a lot, between travel soccer and high school and everything, so a lot of these kids know each other.”

Anyone who knew Charette knew a girl who was a whirlwind of positive energy, someone who was always smiling and joking with her teammates before practice, Stansfield said.

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“You’ve heard the expression ‘old soul?’ Cassidy just had this way about her, a confidence. She was confident in who she was, and she by far was probably the most-liked player on the team. She just had that ability to relate to anyone,” Stansfield said.

Clearly exhausted, the Eagles summoned the strength to stand toe-to-toe with the undefeated Rams, battling them to a 0-0 tie until Bangor scored twice in the final 31 seconds of the first half.

Bangor won, 3-1. After the final horn, the Eagles huddled in front of their goal for a minute, then, with a round of bipartisan applause behind them, let the emotions of the day and the past 60-plus hours come spilling out on their bench.

“As a team, they tried to come together as best they could and support each other in a way that they competed hard,” Hill said. “They gave an effort that they should be proud of, against a very good team, in a very difficult situation for all involved.”

“I am so unbelievably proud of those young ladies,” Stansfield added. “They pulled it together and they played well. They played with their hearts today, no doubt.”

And with Charette never far from their minds.

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“During school today, I was just thinking I’d see her,” Stansfield said. “Just coaching now, not having her on the field was just, I don’t know, just extremely sad.”

Stansfield said there was no way to tell whether the Eagles cleared some kind of emotional hurdle by playing Tuesday, or whether taking to the field was in any way therapeutic.

“If nothing else comes of this, I think it’s great that the girls know they have each other, that they have their own family,” Stansfield said. “Our team will never be the same without Cassidy. You can’t replace someone like that. It’s a huge loss that we’ll feel …”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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