The 2009 state high school soccer championships will be an all-artificial turf affair, with all eight finals to be held at two locations.
Hampden Academy and Scarborough High School will host two classes each on Championship Saturday, which is scheduled for Nov. 7.
The move toward using just two sites for the state finals “has been discussed for a number of years,” said Maine Principals’ Association assistant executive director Mike Burnham.
Members of the MPA’s soccer committee agreed to the concept last winter, and more recently the specific sites were determined.
“We’ll have a northern site and a southern site,” said Burnham.
A determination of which classes will hold its state finals at which location will be determined by the soccer committee after the issuance of the final Heal point ratings based on geographic considerations.
Burnham said the games won’t be broken up by gender, meaning that both the girls and boys final in a class will be held at the same location.
Using the artificial turf facilities at Hampden Academy and Scarborough will eliminate some of the concerns about playing state championship games on grass in early November, when field conditions generally are deteriorating.
Last year’s Class A state finals, including the boys’ game between Bangor and Scarborough, were played amid drizzle and muddy conditions on McCann Field in Bath.
“This way, the field doesn’t come into play,” said Burnham of the site changes.
The new format will be nothing new for Hampden Academy, which hosted the Class B and Class C state finals in 2008.
“We love to do it,” said Hampden Academy athletic administrator David Shapiro, “and a lot of it has to do with the community support we have and from our boosters’ club being able to run the concession booth. They play a big role in our being able to do this.
“We’re fortunate to have this facility,” Shapiro added, “and I think the mind-set of the people who built it all along was to be able to host activities like this.”
Schools may not practice on the site of the championship game unless it is the home field for one of the participating teams. Schools then would be permitted one practice on the field prior to the championship game.
Starting times for the state championship games at each location are 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Field hockey regionals on turf
Soccer isn’t the only high school sport in the state capitalizing on the availability of artificial-turf fields for championship contests.
The field hockey state championship games have been played on turf for several years, originally at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland and last year at Hampden Academy.
Starting this year, not only will the state finals be played on turf — tentatively at Yarmouth High School on Oct. 31— but the regional championship games in all classes also will be played on artificial surfaces.
All three Eastern Maine championship games this season will be played at Hampden Academy on Oct. 24, while the Western Maine finals will be at Scarborough High School, said Burnham.
Regional championship games previously had been held on the home field of the higher-seeded teams.
“We’ve been playing the state finals on turf for several years, but we’d had some complaints by some teams that the state final was their first game on turf,” said Burnham.