The "what if" scenario can be applied to almost any occasion, and the 2020 high school fall sports season provided plenty of said contemplative and reflective moments for squads.

The season was limited to regional play, no playoffs, and, for some, the campaign itself cut short due to a "yellow" designation of a county from the Maine Department of Education.

This outlier of an abbreviated season allowed younger and older brains to ponder what a normal season might have looked like if COVID-19 had not happened, and teams were allowed a full regular and postseason.

Four Waldo County teams may be among the deepest contemplaters, as the Mount View soccer and field hockey teams, as well as the Belfast field hockey squad, may have challenged for regional, and even state titles, with the squads that were assembled over years of hard work from coaches and athletes alike.

The three Mustang programs, and Lion team, combined for a 22-1 record in 2020, with the lone loss a 1-0 defeat for the Mount View field hockey team against Belfast on Oct. 10.

Mount View boys soccer

In Thorndike, two of the strongest Class C programs the past few years have been the Mustangs soccer teams.

In 2019, the boys team finished the regular season 12-2, was the Class C North champion as the No. 3 seed with a 3-1 victory over George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, but fell in the state title game to No. 3 Waynflete of Portland 4-0.

The team returned key pieces in 2020, as the Mustangs saddled up for another gallop to a potential title bid.

"[After last year] we were positive [we could have made another run]," said Mustang coach Jeremy Von Oesen. "We thought there were not many obstacles in our way to have a good season and make another strong run at [a state title]. Things obviously have to come together, and you could see early on we were a little deeper than last year.

"Some of our sophomores were pretty good, and after losing Elijah Allen everyone thought it would be more challenging replacing his production and workload would be hard, but younger kids like Draedyn Furrow, who is just a junior, stepped up into that same role and did incredible things. With our seniors, and same defensive crew back, the only goals we gave up were with our backups in."

Obviously, the opportunity for a title run never materialized as the pandemic ushered in a "new normal" for the time being.

"I know what could have been this year," said Von Oesen. "We were equal to what we were last year, or a little bit better as a team. We were looking forward to having a chance to get to where we were last year and maybe have another opportunity to play for it all again. We were a little slow at the beginning, because it was hard to keep kids motivated this year with no chance at playoffs. These kids lost an opportunity to have more opportunity, and that’s the hard part."

Von Oesen said he saw "a dip in energy, and questioning the purpose," when the team started the season in September, but despite the dip, wrangled a 6-0 record and 35-9 goal-differential.

"It took a lot from August to September when we started for them to buy into [the fact] we are still going to make what we have," Von Oesen said. "They learned from it, and got much better. [The situation] was definitely a mental aspect that was very tough. I think if you were to talk to those kids now, they would continue to express disappointment."

Waldo County received a "yellow" designation in mid-October, and with only a few weeks to play, Mount View, Belfast and Searsport shut down sports for the season, since most contests were held against one another.

The shut down forced the Mount View's boys to look ahead to the 2021 season.

"Going into next year we are losing some very important pieces, including our starting goal keeper the last four years, Sean [Raven] and Joe [Grassi] from defense," said Von Oesen. "We also see a lot of younger kids practicing against our best players and getting better. I think we will be down a little tiny bit, but I think we’ll be able to make a pretty decent run next year.

"This was definitely the year we thought we could have been back to where we were last year, and it’s hard to think what could have been sometimes."

Mount View girls soccer

Turning from the Mount View boys to the girls pitch team, not much of a difference in play could be found.

The Mustangs won every game in the shortened 2020 season, after a stellar 2019 campaign that saw David Page's squad advance to the Class C North semifinals as the No. 7 seed, where the team ultimately fell to No. 3 Houlton 1-0, after a 5-1 upset victory over No. 2 Central of Corinth.

"I think last year we had a legit shot [at a regional title], and this year I thought we had an even better chance," said Page. "I think we were one of the league contenders to get to [the state championship] this year from C North.

"We thought we would run into Fort Kent, and maybe Houlton again. I thought between the three of us, and some other team that pops up, we had a legit chance to go to states. I think we had to replace a couple of girls on defense, but we had girls that were ready to take over and do that job, and they proved that this year. I think we would have done really, really well. It would have been tough to [win states] with those southern Maine teams playing year-round, but I think we would have held our own and done really well."

That contender tag was thrown out the window though, and the mindset shifted.

"The girls were excited we got the opportunity to play, but from the beginning were pretty disappointed they wouldn’t have that opportunity to go get to states like they had hoped," Page said. "I think they knew [they could] too. They knew we had a lot of experience, and a lot of seniors.

"We had a lot of people from last year and we went to the final four [in C North]. We just felt like we were ready to take the next step. The girls played hard and had fun throughout the season, but it was a real disappointment to not reach that ultimate goal, or even go for that.

"I got over the sting [of not playing for a title] after the first couple of weeks. It finally hit home that this is what it is. I think I was initially disappointed when it was announced there would be no playoffs and other things. After the season finished, I had come to terms with it, but was really disappointed when it was cut short after five games."

Page said he was "looking forward to testing ourselves against other programs," such as Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Winlsow, but "we didn't get that opportunity, which was a bummer."

Page's "veteran team" had "a lot of skill and speed up front," this year, and it showed as the Mustangs won every game to the tune of a 5-0 record, and 36-5 scoring-differential.

"The passing was phenomenal," he said. "We controlled the ball really well, and we did some things we didn’t do last year in a positive way. The defense was a work in progress, but by the end of the season I think we were pretty solid from front to back."

The Mustangs' eyes now shift to 2021, and like the school's boys program, Page's group will need to fill holes left by graduation.

"We graduate our three forwards, midfielder and all of our goalies, which will be an area we need to address in the offseason," he said. "I think we have some good young players that are really ambitious, and put in a lot of work.

"I think we have a lot of depth, and once they come out from under those graduating seniors they are going to step up. Whether or not we will be as successful as we hoped this season, I don’t know, but I have confidence in everyone coming back."

Between Page and Von Oesen, the thought of both soccer programs achieving a regional, or state title, this past season was not lost.

"It would be really exciting," said Page. "A lot of these girls and boys were coming to our youth soccer camps back in the days when we were winning one or two games a season. For them to be a part of something that they watched since they were young kids [would have been special]. It would have been exciting for us, for them, and the community as a whole."

"I think it would have meant incredible things," Von Oesen said. "Both the girls and boys soccer teams from Mount View are in support of each other. Both teams had a strong possibility of that this year with the way our rosters were. You only have certain windows with your rosters over a period of time, but Mount View has had very strong programs the past few years."

Mount View field hockey

The 2019 field hockey campaign for Mount View saw coach Gloria Hewett's squad sneak into the Class C North playoffs as the No. 8 seed, after a 6-8 campaign.

The Mustangs lost in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion, and No. 1 seed, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft 1-0, but Hewett knew at the time the pieces were there to take the next step.

"It depended on a couple of key players," Hewett said. "It depended on my center-mid, because Sophia King was my highest scorer with 15 goals [last season], and I moved her to center-mid. She came into the season in the best shape, especially since she has asthma. I think she was the most fit player on my team coming into the season.

"I had [Macy Fowler] that interchanged with King, and I could move things around if one of them needed a break, which didn’t weaken my team. I didn’t know if that was going to be possible, but it absolutely was this year. I don’t know if I could have predicted that was going to work so well last year, but it was perfect this year. I think if that could happen we would have been really strong.

Hewett "definitely" believes "we would have had a chance for a regional title," with a set of "strong seniors, a few strong juniors and a strong set of sophomores."

Although the team never got the chance to challenge for a title, Hewett, and the rest of the Mustangs, were happy to suit up in 2020.

"I really figured we weren’t going to play," Hewett said. "I didn’t think [the state] was going to let 11 girls face off against each other without masks on, when we can’t even walk into our building without masks on and six feet apart, but they did. I was telling my girls that it probably may not happen, so let's not get our hopes up too high, and just do the things we are allowed to do.

"The day we got the green light to play my kids were over the moon. The were so thrilled, even though they knew it was going to be a truncated season, or it could stop at any moment. Just the knowledge of they were going to be able to play was huge for them."

Every game Mount View got to play "was another positive happening for the team," the coach said.

"Whether we won or not, I don’t know if it would have mattered, but we did win, until we played Belfast, and we probably would have kept winning," Hewett said. "If we used Belfast as a gauge for how well we may have done this year, I think we would have done well against other teams too.

"[The girls] were so happy to play, but disappointed they didn’t get to play more games. I don’t know if we even talked about how good we could have been, or how far we could have gone. I don’t think that ever came up, because that’s almost like a downer to talk about something you don’t get."

This season was "more disappointing than any other year," for Hewett, "because you don't get to see how far they could have gone."

"It was hard on my seniors, because they were all amazing," said Hewett. "To see what they could have done to carry the team to a state title possibility would have been really fun to see. As a coach you have years where you say ‘I’ve got a really good team,’ then other years you say ‘I’ve got a good team, and we’ll do okay.’ You know that going into the season, and this [year] is one where I felt like they were a really good team, and I don’t get to find out just how good we could have been."

Belfast field hockey

One of the dominant stick teams in Class B North over the years has been resided in the Lions' den.

Each year the Lions challenge for regional and state titles, and after a 2019 campaign which saw Belfast finish with an 11-3 record and the No. 2 seed in the B North playoffs, they were ready to do it again.

Belfast lost in the 2019 regional final to No. 1 Winslow, 5-2, and, like Mount View, returned key pieces to make another run at their first regional title since 2016, but that opportunity will have to wait until 2021.

"I think we definitely would have been ranked high in the standings, for sure, and I think we would have had a great chance in getting back to [the Class B North regional championship]," said Belfast coach Jan Holmes-Jackson.

Despite the lack of championship opportunity, Belfast's dominant form remained strong, as the Lions finished 6-0 and outscored opponents 31-0.

"We were supposed to have a 10-game schedule, and we knew we didn’t have playoffs," said Holmes-Jackson. "Our goal was to win them all, and not allow a goal. We did that with our six games, and I feel like we could have finished that way if we were allowed to play our last four.

"We played Cony, from Class A, and beat them 3-0, so I was feeling really good about my team after that game. We looked really good, and I know we didn’t play a tough schedule, but they are always very competitive. That was a good game for me to see, so I could see how good we could play as a team."

Holmes-Jackson believes her team would have challenged for regional and state titles this year, and it "was very sad" the squad did not have that opportunity.

"We were glad we were playing, and that I was coaching," she said. "We could have not had a season at all with this COVID-19. We were grateful that we were playing games and that we had four out of six games at our home field. It’s always helpful for us [to play on home turf]."

Holmes-Jackson admits her seniors "were sad they didn't get to finish the season this year and have playoffs," but "overall, they handled themselves well, tried to stay positive and keep morale up."

With the 2020 fall sports season in the rear-view mirror, the eyes look out the windshield to 2021, and another potential strong season.

"I’m looking good next year," Holmes-Jackson said. "My goalie [Madison Shorey] is returning, and I’ve got some good talent. My talent is staggered, so we’ve got some good talent coming up from [Troy Howard Middle School]."