At the very moment the young boy's leg swung through the air, his eyes riveted to the foot that would connect solidly with the ball, a warming sun peeks out from behind a lone passing autumn cloud and begins sending its rays reaching for the ground.
The dew-covered grass, where children had not already trod, began to sparkle like millions of tiny diamonds sprinkled as far as you could see.
As the boy's toes met the wet, glistening ball, the hustle and bustle of the game seemed to stop. Movement around the other Lumberton Youth Soccer fields near Carroll Middle School became a blur as the ball began its slow ascent into the blue Robeson County sky.
Fourteen sets of youngsters' eyes quietly watched the ball begin to spin its way into the air as cars whizzed past on Interstate 95 - some honking their horns as if in encouragement, either for the youngsters or this one ball that was majestically rising above the playing field.
Across the field, a hot dog vender served up one of his specialties, wrapped neatly in a napkin and with a side of Mountain Dew.
Somewhere a couple of playing fields away, a dog barked as he begged his owner to toss a ball for him to chase, then made a bee-line dash after the ball as it bounded across the still-glistening grass. He skidded to a halt a split-second later, nabbing the ball in his teeth and returning it for another toss.
In the parking lot, a van's doors fly open and three children dressed in brightly colored jerseys and shin guards leap out, ready for action. But the mom, once she collects two folding chairs, a blanket and several drink bottles up in her arms, hollers for the children to stay close.
Nearby, a snowcone maker squirts a shot of bright red cherry flavoring into the mound of chipped ice, letting it sink down into the paper cone before handing it over to the child with a dollar sticking out of his pocket.
The ball, now reaching the zenith of its flight, is caught in a wisp of wind that rustles the trees and sends a cascade of yellow, orange and brown leaves to the Earth's floor. Energized by Mother Nature's gentle blowing, the ball floats on a line toward its target.
A whistle suddenly sounds from a nearby field, but the eyes watching the flight of this ball are not deterred. They remain riveted to the white and black-speckled sphere that has begun a slight descent. The boy whose foot sent the ball on this course has grown wide-eyed as his effort is coming close to achieving his goal, with mere yards left between the falling ball and its destination.
At the other end of this journey stands another young boy, head tilted upward into that now-bright sunlight, squinting as hard as he can in an effort to catch a glimpse of what is hurtling toward him. Just minutes earlier, this young boy was mobbed by several arms thumping his back and shoulders as he hugged a ball that had tried to sneak past him into the net. He was a momentary hero that had saved the day for his teammates.
And now was another chance.
Just as the ball came within reach, a truck's horn blared from the highway. A mother sitting along the sidelines yells to her children. The dog barks for another toss of the ball. Another whistle sounds. And the sun sends an extra-bright ray of sunlight down. At that very moment, the slow-motion reverts back to its normal hustle and bustle, and the blur of activity on surrounding fields returned to normal.
And the ball finds its mark, bouncing into the back of the goal where it snuggles up against the net.
One boy hung his head. Another threw his hands up in the air and rejoiced.
Walker had scored a goal.
W. Curt Vincent is the sports editor for The Robesonian. He can be reached by calling 739-4322, Ext.111, or by e-mail at email@example.com.