Switch to turf brings speed, skills to surface

State final gets new site after 23 years on grass

Field hockey

High Schools

November 07, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For many of the players in this year's state field hockey semifinals, a big motivating factor in reaching the state finals has been the chance to play on turf.

This fall, for the first time in the 30-year history of the state field hockey championships, the event will be played on AstroTurf, at the University of Maryland's new Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.

"Oh my gosh, we are so excited," said Severna Park's Lauren Maranto. "Turf is where you can play awesome hockey. Bermuda grass ... is a great field, but on turf you can move the ball 10 times faster and that's where your stickwork really comes into play."

Hereford's Samantha Sebastian agreed.

"The ball moves so much faster on turf and the game is more skill-oriented and we have skill," said the senior defender.

For 23 years, the state tournament has been held at Goucher College. College officials withdrew as hosts this season because of field conditions.

In searching for a new site, state tournament officials opted for the turf field because they could continue to showcase the games one at a time and the turf would allow them to play in weather that would force postponement on a grass field, said Melba Williams, the acting tournament director.

Two years ago, the games were moved to the Goucher stadium and held one at a time after having been run two at a time in a multiple-field area nearby. Many coaches, however, complained that the grass was too high on the side fields.

"For years, going to Goucher, I've always hated those fields. The grass is so high," said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid, whose team lost in Monday's semifinal. "It was great when it was an all girls school, but when it went to boys, the field usage changed."

Severna Park has won 12 of its 13 state titles at Goucher, and coach Lil Shelton would rather stay there. "There was always something exciting about going to Goucher," she said. "I'm disappointed."

South River coach Laura Hoffner offered her field, which has lights, for the tournament. She doesn't want to play on turf.

"It's just not right because we don't play on that surface all season, but it's equal because every team is in the same situation. It makes it a different game. The ball just moves too much faster. Field hockey is meant to be played on that surface, but the fact is we don't play on it during the season."

"There was a time when I didn't want [to play on turf], because you don't play that in season," said Hereford coach Tammy Mundie. "But my kids play so much on the turf now in the offseason that they are experienced on turf probably more so than the average kids, but probably the same as all the other tournament-going teams."

Kincaid, Shelton and Mundie said many athletes now play on turf at camps or on club teams.

"The high grass took the players with speed and the players with stick skills right out of the game," said Kincaid. "Now I think the teams with the speed and stick skills will win and, if we ever lose because of that, so be it. Finally, you'll be on a surface where you can see all the work the kids put into it over the years."

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