Behind one goal, the sunset’s orange and violet rays set a cloud’s underbelly ablaze.
Behind the other, a nearly full moon cast clouds to the east in a pale glow.
Those are sights never before seen during a soccer game at Prairie High School. Tuesday marked the first game played under lights at the high school’s new artificial turf field.
The Prairie girls soccer team christened its new lighted field against Camas, which scored a 3-0 non-league win. Mika Norrish and Amanda Shi had goals for the Papermakers, which also benefited from an own goal.
A crowd of several dozen parents, relatives and classmates lined the field as the game kicked off at 7 p.m. Games on campus in previous years often began at 4 p.m., conflicting with work or after-school activities. Prairie sometimes played night home games at Battle Ground District Stadium, about 7 miles to the north.
“I know a lot of parents could never make a 4 p.m. game,” said Angela Williams, who cheered on her daughter Alexis Williams on Tuesday. “You’d probably have half the crowd that you see tonight.”
Aaron Warner is among the parents who could rarely attend afternoon games. He would have to leave his job in downtown Portland early in order to watch his daughter Victoria, a senior midfielder for the Falcons. Tuesday, work seemed miles away for Warner, who snapped photos of the game while dressed in casual outdoors clothing.
“You can get home, eat dinner, even get a workout in before the game,” Warner said. “It’s good for family bonding.”
As the game began, a dozen Prairie students watched from a set of bleachers behind their team’s bench.
Amanda Clausen wouldn’t have attended a 4 p.m. game because she plays on Prairie’s JV soccer team. Next to her, Jacob George said his late afternoons are occupied by varsity football practice.
“It’s extremely important for school spirit that students are able to come,” Clausen said.
The lights also mean fewer time conflicts for Prairie athletic director Andy Schoonover, who can schedule practices and games at hours not previously possible.
“To have this facility on campus means a lot for athletes,” he said. ” But it also helps build community since more people can attend. That’s what we hope to do.”