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Soccer matches even brighter now at Clayton State

From staff reports

With a flip of the switch, Clayton State soccer matches will now be brighter in 2005.

The final steps of the installation of lights on the Clayton State University soccer field has been completed with the setting of four 75-foot light poles on school's on-campus facility, Laker Field.

"It will bring an entirely new and exciting atmosphere to our soccer matches," said athletic director Mason Barfield. "With the ability to have "night soccer," we will have the opportunity to draw more folks from the local community in the evening, and they will be able to enjoy the high level of soccer at the NCAA Division II level."

Clayton State's men's team will have the first opportunity to play under the lights, hosting Belmont Abbey College in the 2nd Annual Laker Soccer Shootout at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26th

The project of setting the utility poles was a bit unique in that the poles were positioned by using a helicopter. The helicopter lifted each of the 3,500 lb. poles, maneuvered to its respective corner of the field, while workers below fastened the pole to the ground. The process of setting one pole took less than 30 minutes.

"This area was so tight, it was more feasible to use a helicopter instead of crane in setting the poles," said Jimmy Brown, a representative of Qualite Sports Lightning Company whose company provided the lights. "With a crane, it would have damaged the field, broke sidewalks, and you would have had to take down fences. It is more expensive but much quicker and cleaner than having to move around a crane."

The lighting project could not have come at a better time for both the Clayton State men's and women's soccer programs, as excitement and expectations for the programs are at high levels with both teams coming off their best seasons in school history last year.

Ranked 15th in the final national poll, the Clayton State men finished the 2004 season with a 12-4-4 record and advanced for the first time in school history to the "Sweet Sixteen" of the NCAA Division II National Soccer Championships. The Lakers were ranked in the national poll in early September and remained among the top 25 teams for the entire season, rising as high as 10th in the country.

After Clayton State's season-opener against Belmont Abbey, the Lakers will face Queens College, a team that CSU prevailed over in the NCAA Division II National Championships in a penalty kick shootout. The match will kick off on Saturday, August 27th at 7:30 p.m.

The Clayton State women's team will open its season on Saturday, August 27th on the road, traveling to face Newberry College. The team's first home match will be Sunday, Sept. 11th against Carson-Newman College at 2 p.m., and the squad's first match under the lights will be Saturday, Sept. 17th, hosting Peach Belt Conference opponent North Georgia College & State University at 7 p.m.

Clayton State's women also advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championships last season, finishing with a school best a 13-6-1 record. The team had the second biggest turnaround in NCAA Division II last season. The Lakers will be led in 2004 by last year's freshman sensation Olaitan Yusuf, who led the nation in scoring and points per with a school record 35 goals on the season.