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A new son and a championship all in the same week for Windham girls soccer coach

Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
Windham's Lauren Shoemaker, right, joins her teammates to celebrate the Eagles' first goal during the second half of the Class A girls soccer state championship against Bangor, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Bath, Maine. Windham won 3-0.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BATH, Maine — Deb Lebel was relaxed and perhaps a little relieved while chatting in the aftermath of Windham High School’s 3-0 victory over Bangor in Saturday’s Class A girls soccer state championship match at McMann Field.

Most of her emotion of the moment was for her players, who battled through a grinding Western Maine tournament and then capped off the season with what Lebel, the Eagles’ head coach, described as some of their best play of the year when it mattered most.

But no doubt some of the resulting smiles reflected an acknowledgement that she had just battled through one of the most rewarding weeks any woman could have — her success on the job front coming just days after giving birth to her second son.

“I’m a little sore, but it’s nothing Tylenol can’t handle,” Lebel said. “Now I can go home and relax.”

The original plan was for Lebel to give birth to Benjamin Lebel just after the season ended, specifically on Nov. 12 — 11/12/13.

But circumstances changed that game plan.

“I had a doctor’s appointment last Friday (Nov. 1) and they said they didn’t think I was going to make it until next Tuesday, because my due date was Nov. 12,” she said. “I said. ‘I’m going to try to make it if I can.’”

Lebel coached her top-ranked team to a 1-0 Western A semifinal victory over defending state champion Scarborough on Saturday, Nov. 2, then worked at Windham’s football playoff game against Edward Little of Auburn later that day.

“Sunday we had off,” said Lebel, also a science teacher and head girls’ lacrosse coach at the school. “Sunday night I went to bed and woke up about 1 and said, ‘I think my water broke.’ We went to the hospital and sure enough, I had a C-section Monday morning at 6 a.m.”

But even as Benjamin was coming into the world to join her, husband Mike — also a coach — and their 4-year-old son Sean, Lebel was still in planning mode.

“I said to my nurse, ‘Can you just refresh me on how long you have to stay (in the hospital) after a C-section?’” Lebel recalled. “She said, ‘You’ll be here until Thursday,’ and we had Thornton Academy on Wednesday night (in the Western Maine final) so I said, ‘Well, if it’s at all possible maybe I’d like to leave Wednesday.’

Lebel said she “was a good patient and did everything they asked me to do” in the ensuing days, and mother and son were released from the hospital just in time for her to make it to the Thornton Academy game.

“I got out of the hospital Wednesday at 3:30 (p.m.), went home and was at the game at 6,” she said.

That game was not without stress of its own as Windham was taken to double overtime before outlasting TA 4-3.

But with a role model for personal determination leading the way, it may have been inevitable that Lebel’s team would not be denied its ultimate prize.

The Eagles performed that way Saturday, controlling play from the outset and scoring three second-half goals to shake off a determined defensive effort by Bangor and win the program’s first Class A state championship.

“I said, ‘If I can do this, if I can be out here doing this two days after having a little surgery, you guys can do it,’” Lebel said. “I think some of them really took it to heart and said, ‘C’mon, coach is pretty tough. We can do this, too.’”

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