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Sidelines: Extra Maine highschool soccer packages uncover great thing about Friday evening lights


Lawrence Excessive Faculty soccer followers start to line the house finish zone previous to a season-opening sport in opposition to Skowhegan on Sept. 2 at Keyes Subject in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Ryan Snell has been teaching the Medomak Valley soccer staff because it fashioned a varsity squad in 2015 — however he is by no means skilled an environment just like the one he did final Friday evening.

There’s as a lot vitality as ever round Medomak Valley soccer, which is in simply its seventh season of varsity play. The two-0 Panthers have been contemporary off a 40-0 drubbing of Winslow that established them as one of many premier gamers in Class C North this season, and the environment beneath the lights for the staff’s homecoming sport in opposition to Nokomis was electrical.

Followers lined up lengthy forward of kickoff to enter the stadium with the queue stretching all the way in which from the doorway to the highschool itself. For a Medomak staff that switches off between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon video games all year long, the scene in Waldoboro solely confirmed to Snell the prevalence of the previous.

“We do not have our personal lights, however we lease development lights and get among the native companies right here to sponsor it in order that we will do two or three evening video games a yr,” stated Snell, whose staff beat Nokomis 35-0 to begin 3-0 for the primary time because the program’s inaugural season in 2015. “You simply get much more individuals crowd-wise on a Friday evening, and this previous Friday, it was simply phenomenal.”

An increasing number of groups all through the state which have historically opted for Saturday video games have made related swings towards Friday evening contests over the previous few years. The explanation why is easy: Highschool soccer is supposed to be performed beneath the glow of Friday evening lights.

Do not get me mistaken: Soccer is particular in nearly any capability. I’ve attended numerous highschool video games in Minnesota, Missouri, Maryland and Maine; I’ve sat in 100,000-seat stadiums in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Knoxville, Tennessee; I have been to Lambeau Subject and even the previous Metrodome in Minneapolis, the place you can odor three a long time price of peanut fumes emanating from the partitions. Regardless of the setting, there’s one thing so unparalleled and grand in regards to the sport that no different sport can match.

There’s nothing purer, although, than what occurs on highschool fields on Friday nights, particularly within the tight-knit communities now we have right here in Maine. There is a particular sort of vitality you’ll be able to sense from the gamers, coaches, cheerleaders, followers and everybody else in attendance. For a number of hours, the autumn sky, nighttime breeze and lights illuminating the sector make every thing, it doesn’t matter what’s happening round us, it appears proper on the planet.

Regionally, Waterville has been one of many colleges that is performed its residence video games solely on Saturdays for the overwhelming majority of program historical past. But, in 2015, the Purple Panthers started a convention of renting out lights every year in an effort to play their annual homecoming video games on Fridays. Waterville has executed it each season since.

It is turn into the perfect sport of the yr for now-head coach Isaac LeBlanc, bar none. At a apply Wednesday afternoon, you can sense an additional oomph within the staff’s preparation. This Friday evening sport in opposition to Spruce Mountain, in spite of everything, brings out the perfect within the Purple Panthers, who’ve gained it yearly relationship to 2017.

“I would be mendacity to you if I stated this sport and this expertise beneath the lights wasn’t a bit extra particular,” LeBlanc stated. “These guys look ahead to this homecoming sport we do yearly. It is turn into fairly a convention for us. It is an excellent evening for this group and this program.”

Whereas Medomak Valley and Waterville have gone beneath the lights for choose video games, there’s one other faculty that has gone solely from Saturday to Friday kickoffs. Lisbon, which had lights donated a number of years in the past, has all 4 residence video games this season scheduled for 7 pm Friday begins.

Lisbon followers may have been forgiven in the event that they weren’t thrilled in regards to the concept of ​​breaking with the custom of Saturday video games that had existed in that group because the program’s debut. Lisbon with out Saturday afternoon soccer, in spite of everything, is like Stonington with out lobster, Freeport with out the LL Bean retailer or Baxter State Park with out Katahdin. It simply sounds a bit mistaken.

sj Lisbon football lights 1

Lisbon and Fryeburg play the primary evening soccer sport at Lisbon Excessive Faculty on Sept. 9. After years of elevating funds, the varsity authorised the set up of lights earlier this yr. Solar Journal file photograph

As a substitute, the response was overwhelmingly constructive when Lisbon performed its first-ever sport beneath the Friday evening lights two weeks in the past. Even gamers who performed Saturday video games 60 years in the past, similar to Dennis Turcotte, expressed happiness with the change. His son, Kevin Turcotte, felt no in another way.

“The vitality is admittedly excessive,” Kevin Turcotte, father of present Lisbon participant Connor Turcotte, advised the Solar Journal. “They have been pumped. They heard they received (the lights) their freshman yr, and since then, they could not wait. I find it irresistible. I like Friday nights higher than Saturdays. Individuals are busy these days.”

This does not, in fact, imply that Saturday video games haven’t got a spot within the present highschool soccer panorama. Saturday afternoons in Winslow are particular; Saturday afternoons in Oak Hill are particular; Saturday afternoons in Dexter are particular. To say these locations can (and even ought to) quit these traditions simply can be misguided.

There are different points in play right here, too. The lights wanted to light up soccer fields aren’t low-cost, and the battle to recruit extra officers within the state may result in extra sport days being staggered. However the effort to play evening video games says fairly a bit about how a lot Friday evening soccer is valued.

“You get the character of individuals being round on a Friday, and the environment is admittedly doubled,” Snell stated. “The gang is extra into it, and the gamers are extra excited. They’re on a greater schedule after they get out of faculty and may do what they should do to return again and play that evening. It is simply higher for everybody.”

That is one thing that an increasing number of groups in Maine that transfer their video games to Friday nights are discovering — and each highschool soccer within the state and the environment that surrounds will probably be higher off in consequence.

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