OAKLAND — Second stringers no more.

After seasons of fighting for minutes, playing backup roles and being the teams others in Class A North looked at to pad their statistical acumen, the weirdest of weird seasons has proven beneficial for both the Messalonskee and Skowhegan boys soccer teams. A 2-0 Eagles win Tuesday night kept Messalonskee unbeaten at 1-0-1, not that the records matter much in a year where there are no Heal points up for grabs or playoffs on the horizon.

The results are now secondary to the process.

“We lost our whole starting varsity, and we’re starting with all different players this year,” said Messalonskee midfielder Colby Corson, one of seven juniors in the Eagles’ starting 11. “We’re still trying to work things out, because we haven’t played a lot together. It’s a whole different game than last year.”

Different it certainly is. After more than two months of conditioning workouts over the summer into an abbreviated preseason for a truncated regional schedule, everything about the campaign is different.

For coaches like Messalonskee’s Tom Sheridan and Skowhegan’s Jordan Hale, it’s allowed two programs that were hoping for a chance to rebuild and retool this season an opportunity they’ve never had before. There are no Lewiston dynasties to contend with, no heavy-hitting southern schools on the docket and no stressing over the few games on the schedule presenting massive Heal point opportunities.

Instead, their teams can simply go play the games and get better. On Tuesday, juniors took care of the scoring for the Eagles, with Justin Sardano and James Jones each striking in the first half.

“It’s kind of cool. It’s like a long preseason,” Sheridan said. “Developmentally, I think for our kids it’s big. Our kids didn’t know what to expect because we had so many new kids playing is so many different roles.”

Messalonskee graduated more than half a dozen seniors a year ago. What made that loss more difficult, according to Sheridan, was that most of them had been key performers since they were sophomores. The program hadn’t had this big of a recycling in several years.

“All the guys who were backing up guys as sophomores are now starters,” Sheridan said. “We’re being patient with them as far as what we want, but it’s coming along.”

For Skowhegan (1-1-0), which posted a win over Lawrence in its opener last week, this year would have been the chance to take a team with eight seniors and cap it with a possible playoff appearance. While Hale is disappointed that possibility no longer exists, he’ll happily trade it for a season with a few wins and some confidence for the program moving forward.

“Coming from a school with a football team and a field hockey team that are so successful, it’s all a mind game,” Hale said, noting the benefits of a regionalized schedule featuring teams like Winslow, Waterville and Lawrence. “The fact we’re comfortable playing the kids we’re playing, that’s a huge mentality change for the positive.”

Given Skowhegan has struggled to gain traction over the eight years under Hale’s direction, the coach doesn’t see this season as a missed opportunity. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

“I’m so happy that we’re competitive,” Hale said. “I’d rather go 5-5 than 0-10, obviously. I’m excited for it. I know the no-playoff thing stinks, but I’m excited for it because I want my guys to gain some confidence. The seniors have worked so hard to get this program where it is and where we are as a team, and they deserve some accolades for it.”

Messalonskee has only two seniors, one in goalkeeper Andrew Mayo and the other in center back Gabe Katz. It’s a team loaded with juniors and seniors, and the minutes that those underclassmen are logging are immense.

There are certain to be bumps in the road, but the experience gained by logging 70-80 minutes a night trumps any bitter defeats or sub-par performances.

“Losses, I’m not saying they don’t matter, we want to win every game, but they don’t matter as much as they did in past years,” said Messalonskee’s Owen Axelsson, a junior outside midfielder. “For us, it’s transitioning into being the captains of the team even though you don’t have the bands on. You have to take a leadership role no matter what. It’s a bigger role than last year.”

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