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After mass shooting, Lewiston High School's state soccer title is a salve

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Just a few weeks ago, a gunman took the lives of 18 people in Lewiston, Maine. Schools and businesses shut down temporarily as police searched for the shooter. Now, as the community looks to recover, they have much better news.

(CHEERING)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Lewiston High School boys soccer team are state champs. They won 3-2 over Deering. You just heard celebrations after a last-minute winning goal, which was recorded by Adam Robinson with "Maine Sports Today."

MARTÍNEZ: Dan Gish is the head coach. He says his players love soccer so much they continued to train during last month's lockdown.

DAN GISH: You know, there's four National Guard helicopters on our grass field, and there's 30 different law enforcement agencies, and these guys still find a way to go kick on the pitch.

INSKEEP: Coach Dan Gish says the situation was stressful as they headed into the championship.

GISH: It's a lot of pressure to win. They said they were going to do it for their city. And, you know, you worry about the pressure for them, and they handled it, and they got it done. It was really special.

MARTÍNEZ: Ahmed Abdow is a defender on the team. He says winning the state championship is a dream come true.

AHMED ABDOW: I feel happy for the boys and the city. After what has happened, just, like, an eye-opener, you know? Like, there's hope in the town, you know? It's a great way to bring the city together.

INSKEEP: You know, this is the school's fourth championship win. The first was back in 2015. The team's goalie, Payson Goyette, was a fan back then and remembers that moment.

PAYSON GOYETTE: I went to that game. I've been wanting to win a championship ever since then, and it means a lot to bring it back home, especially with everything that's happened.

MARTÍNEZ: The community will cheer the Lewiston Blue Devils, as they're known, at events in the coming weeks, and Coach Gish says they've got a lot more than soccer to celebrate.

GISH: We've got guys from Angola, Somalia, Kenya, and French Canadian kids are playing, and we show the world how you should get along. It doesn't matter where you're from on this team, as long as you do it for each other and you're a good person.

INSKEEP: A different sort of victory.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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