Ryan Snell has been teaching the Medomak Valley soccer crew since he fashioned a varsity crew in 2015, however he is by no means skilled an environment just like the one he skilled on Friday night time.
There may be as a lot power as ever surrounding Medomak Valley soccer, which is in its seventh season of faculty play. The Panthers (2-0) had simply crushed Winslow 40-0 that established them as one of many high gamers within the Class C North this season, and the temper below the lights for the crew’s homecoming recreation towards Nokomis was electrical. .
Followers lined up nicely earlier than the beginning of the sport to enter the stadium and the road stretched from the doorway to the highschool. For a Medomak crew that alternates between Friday night time and Saturday afternoon video games year-round, the scene in Waldoboro solely confirmed to Snell the previous’s superiority.
“We do not have our personal lights, however we lease building lights and get among the native companies to sponsor them so we are able to do two or three night time video games a 12 months,” stated Snell, whose crew beat Nokomis 35-0. to start out 3-0 for the primary time because the present’s inaugural season in 2015. “You simply have much more folks in public on a Friday night time, and final Friday, it was simply phenomenal.”
Increasingly groups throughout the state which have historically opted for Saturday video games have made comparable shifts towards Friday night time contests in recent times. The reason being easy: Highschool soccer is supposed to be performed below the glare of Friday night time lights.
Do not get me incorrect: soccer is particular in nearly each 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100,000-seat stadiums in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Knoxville, Tennessee; I have been to Lambeau Discipline and even the outdated Minneapolis Metrodome, the place you would odor three many years of peanut fumes coming off the partitions. Irrespective of the setting, there’s something so incomparable and nice concerning the recreation that no different sport can match.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing extra pure than what occurs on the highschool fields on Friday nights, particularly within the tight-knit communities we now have right here in Maine. There’s a particular type of power which you could really feel from the gamers, coaches, cheerleaders, followers, and everybody else in attendance. For a number of hours, the autumn sky, the night time breeze and the lights that illuminate the sphere make every little thing, it doesn’t matter what is going on round us, appear proper on the earth.
Regionally, Waterville has been one of many colleges that has performed its dwelling video games solely on Saturdays for the overwhelming majority of this system’s historical past. Nevertheless, in 2015, the Purple Panthers started a practice of renting lights yearly to play their annual homecoming video games on Fridays. Waterville has achieved it each season since.
It has change into the very best recreation of the 12 months for now head coach Isaac LeBlanc, bar none. At a apply Wednesday afternoon, you would really feel an additional push within the crew’s preparation. This Friday night time recreation towards Spruce Mountain, in spite of everything, brings out the very best within the Purple Panthers, who’ve gained it yearly since 2017.
“I might be mendacity to you if I stated this recreation and this expertise below the lights wasn’t somewhat bit extra particular,” LeBlanc stated. “These guys are wanting ahead to this homecoming recreation that we do yearly. It has change into a practice for us. It is an awesome night time for this group and this present.”
Whereas Medomak Valley and Waterville have gone below the highlight for choose video games, there’s one other college that has gone completely from Saturday to Friday video games. Lisbon, which had lights donated to it a number of years in the past, has all 4 of its dwelling video games this season scheduled for Friday at 7pm.
Lisboners might have been forgiven in the event that they weren’t keen about breaking with the custom of Saturday matches that had existed in that group because the present’s debut. In any case, Lisbon with out Saturday afternoon soccer 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 dangerous.
As a substitute, the response was overwhelmingly optimistic when Lisbon performed its first recreation below the lights on Friday night time two weeks in the past. Even gamers who performed Saturday video games 60 years in the past, like Dennis Turcotte, expressed their happiness with the change. His son, Kevin Turcotte, felt no completely different.
“The power is actually excessive,” Kevin Turcotte, father of present Lisbon participant Connor Turcotte, advised the Solar Journal. “They’ve been pumped. They heard that they acquired (the lights) of their first 12 months and since then, they could not wait. I am lovin ‘it. I like Friday nights higher than Saturdays. Individuals are busy these days.”
After all, this does not imply Saturday video games do not have a spot in at the moment’s highschool soccer panorama. Saturday afternoons in Winslow are particular; Saturday afternoons in Oak Hill are particular; Saturday afternoons at Dexter are particular. To say that these locations can (and even ought to) abandon these traditions simply can be a mistake.
There are different points at play right here as nicely. The lights wanted to light up soccer fields do not come low-cost, and the scramble to recruit extra officers within the state might result in extra recreation days being staggered. However the effort to play night time video games speaks volumes about how a lot Friday night time soccer is valued.
“You get the character of the people who find themselves in attendance on a Friday, and the environment actually doubles down,” Snell stated. “The group is extra and the gamers are extra excited. They’ve a greater schedule after college and may do what they should come again and play that night time. It is simply higher for everybody.”
That is one thing that increasingly more groups in Maine transferring their video games to Friday nights are discovering, and each highschool soccer within the state and the environment round it will likely be higher in consequence.