Monmouth’s Alicen Burnham and Maranacook’s Anna Drillen push the ball up the line during a Class C South girls soccer semifinal game in Lewiston in Nov. 2019. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

Once again, neighboring rivals Monmouth Academy and Winthrop High School have teamed up to compete in athletics. 

Carrabec’s Sarah Olson, left, tries to control the ball as Winthrop defender Averie Silva closes in during a Mountain Valley Conference game in North Anson in Sept. 2019. Morning Sentinel file photo

After graduating half of the players in its girls soccer program, Winthrop was facing the possibility of not having a team for the other half — and any incoming freshmen or interested upperclassmen — to play on. 

Monmouth came to its rival’s aid, providing a landing spot for Winthrop’s girls soccer players by forming a cooperative team. 

“What it means is we have the opportunity for our girls to not only play soccer, but be part of a top-notch program,” Winthrop Athletic Director Joel Stoneton said. “Without the help from Monmouth, our girls would possibly not be able to play girls soccer.” 

Monmouth Athletic Director Wade Morrill said there was talk in the community at the end of last season about the possibility of Winthrop not having enough players to field its own team. 

That talk became more serious when Stoneton brought up the dilemma with Morrill over the winter. 


“He just brought it up in a conversation,” Morrill said. “You know, we co-op for several sports. We’ve sent golfers over there in the past, we co-op for football, we’re open for cheering for them to come to Monmouth, that type of stuff, so we kind of share some things. So he brought it up in like February, saying ‘Hey, if we get to the point where we actually can’t do this, will you be interested?’ And I said ‘Of course we could.’ It makes sense.” 

Morrill noted that the schools are only a few miles away, so logistically they are compatible partners. 

On the soccer field, it means more depth for a Mustangs program that was planning on having 20-21 girls from its own school on the roster this fall, giving the team enough players for a full, 11-player JV squad. 

“That’s going to make it nice,” head coach Gary Trafton said. “When you only have 20 to 18 kids, there’s games some kids just can’t get into because of the competition, and now we’ll be able to have a JV team.” 

Trafton said he’s very excited about the co-op, though he’s only met the Winthrop players through a conference call earlier this week. 

In a normal year, he would have had a summer season to get the new players acclimated to his program, but the coronavirus wiped out that opportunity. Easing the unavoidable growing pains won’t be too much different than adding a class of freshmen, Trafton said. 


“It’s just like they’re moving into our school, that’s how I guess I look at it,” he said. “The Winthrop girls, they’re new kids, and everybody has an equal opportunity and equal chances to play and show what they can do. 

“Out of the Winthrop girls, there’s no seniors, there’s just sophomores and juniors,” Trafton said. “And I know they had a very good team last year and I talked with the coach from last year, Mark Carey, I know he’s a very good coach, and so I know he taught them a lot of stuff. I mean, it’s going to be an adjustment because I’m a different coach than Mark is. It’s just going to be a learning curve for everybody.” 

Trafton said his players are excited to welcome the new players, and his seniors have already met with their former rivals. He called the co-op a “win-win situation for both schools.” 

To make the co-op official, both schools’ districts needed to sign off the agreement. The Winthrop School Committee approved the cooperative agreement in late May, with Stoneton saying the vote was unanimous. 

“They were very supportive and understood I had done my research, leaving this as our only option,” Stoneton said. 

The school board for RSU 2, which Monmouth is a part of, voted on the agreement Thursday night at its meeting, and Morrill said the board approved it unanimously, as well, after “some discussion.” 


“Obviously whenever you take students from one community and you add them to one of your athletic teams, especially given the strong tradition here of Monmouth Academy girls soccer, when you add students from another school, who have some very skilled players, there is obviously a little bit of concern about playing time and that type of stuff for your local girls, for the Monmouth Academy girls,” he said.  “But we addressed those and the vote was absolutely unanimous to support the cooperative agreement for one year.” 

The agreement will be revisited after the season, Morrill said, to see if Winthrop will have the roster numbers to support its own program again. If not, he’s open to continuing the co-op. 

“I really appreciate Wade Morrill for all of his hard work and assistance with this situation, as we now join another co-op with Monmouth,” Stoneton said. 

“God forbid, shoe’s on the other foot, we would hope somebody would take our eight girls and give them an opportunity to play soccer,” Morrill said. “And if Winthrop was willing, we’d like it to be them.” 

The co-op Mustangs will continue to compete in Class C South, where last year Monmouth went 14-0 in the regular season and Winthrop was 9-4-1. The modified enrollment number from the combined schools for the co-op is around 277, according to Morrill, which is well below the Class C maximum cutoff of 409 for the current classification cycle, which ends after the upcoming school year. 

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