June 22, 2018
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Artificial turf best for title games

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

With new CDs on the shelves from The Pretenders (Break up the Concrete), AC/DC (Black Ice), Foreigner (No End in Sight) and Squeeze (Five Live), life is good these days.

The Maine Principals’ Association does an exemplary job putting together its state championship events. It requires a lot of work from start to finish to organize and run these competitions.

One thing that will make the MPA’s job easier is switching the eight state championship soccer games to fields with artificial turf.

There aren’t that many fields with FieldTurf or a similar type of surface in the state yet. But there are enough of them to do so and they are located in every region of the state.

That will greatly reduce the amount of field maintenance and make for a much better product. It will also supply the players and fans with a better experience.

In November, you are dealing with a variety of weather issues that can completely turn what could be the highlight of many athletic careers into a nightmare on a natural-grass quagmire.

If there is a deep freeze the night before the game/games being played on natural grass, you can have a hard, slippery field players are going to have to negotiate.

Or, if the day warms up significantly, the frost melts and you have a wet field.

Then there is always the possibility of rain.

Wet or slippery surfaces are extremely frustrating and don’t allow talented teams to showcase their skills.

The other problem is that grass fields used in the state championship games have suffered considerable wear and tear over the course of the fall whether it be for just soccer or other sports.

You don’t want a state championship game decided by a goalie who slips and misplays a ball or by a defender who falls, allowing a game-winning breakaway.

And you don’t want somebody getting hurt by stepping in a hole on a grass field.

Last Saturday, four state title games were played at the Weatherbee School Athletic Complex in Hampden, which has FieldTurf.

The other four games were played on grass fields.

There will be those who will argue that teams who play on artificial surfaces will have an advantage over teams who don’t. That’s a legitimate beef.

Then there’s the matter of securing enough sites to hold eight state title games.

But, it’s still well worth it.

Football’s three state championship games are held on the artificial surface at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Field hockey had also been held there but was held on the FieldTurf in Hampden late last month.

Now all we need is artificial turf for runners in the state cross country meets!

Another thought: If I were an ice hockey penalty-killer, I would use a stick that isn’t quite as curved as my normal stick on the penalty kill so I could give myself a better opportunity to clear the puck on my backhand.

How many times have you seen a penalty-killer trying to lift a puck out of the defensive zone on the backhand only to roll it weakly to the point where it is intercepted and kept in the zone?

It’s nice to have a healthy curve on the forehand for shooting the puck and scoring goals, but when you’re killing penalties, your job is to prevent goals.

Once upon a time, hockey players used to use straight sticks. And, believe it or not, goalies played without masks.

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