On the Francis Howell North turf, Sam Cary and Liz Wagner stand on the turf with a soccer ball and a lacrosse stick.

Photographer Anna Musselman

Who Gets Home Turf: Girls Lacrosse vs. Soccer

March 8, 2018

Who should get the turf?

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With the upcoming spring sports season, both girls soccer and girls lacrosse feel they should have the ability to practice on the turf. Ultimately, both sports are sponsored by the school and have strong reasons for as to why they should have it. However, if one should have it, which sport should it be?

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Soccer Should Stay in the Stadium

With both girls lacrosse and girls soccer wanting to be on the stadium field this season, the current issue is who should have the turf. Though we are both school sponsored sports, girls soccer should have the ability to practice on the turf.

There is one glaring argument that triumphs all others: field quality. As soccer players, the name of the game is that the ball is on the ground majority of the time. With this in mind, as a program how are we supposed to improve if we cannot pass a ball without it bouncing yards off target? The quality of the upper grass field is poor, as there are plenty of areas with bad grass and holes that easily lead to injuries and inaccurate passing.

To go along with this, every single game that we play is on a turf field. If we play actual games in these conditions, then why shouldn’t we practice in them as well? As a program, we are only at more of a disadvantage against other teams in our division if we are not given the opportunity to practice on an adequate field.

Another issue with the field is simply location. For soccer in general, our shots easily go six to seven feet off the ground, much higher than lacrosse. Once we get goals up to the field, which we do not currently have, there is the possibility that shots will go over the net. If you imagine our upper field, a missed shot is going to fly over the three foot fence and straight into shot put practice. I highly doubt that they want flying soccer balls constantly disrupting their practice.

Practice time is valuable for every sport, and this is especially true for high school soccer. For lacrosse, this tends to be the first time they have played, this means that every experience with the sport has been together and with the same coach. This allows for the team to always be on the same page and all learn plays with the same techniques. On the other hand, girls start playing soccer at a young age. This means that by freshman year girls have had many different teammates, with different coaches and extremely different soccer backgrounds. The extra practice time gained by practicing on the turf allows for us to ensure we are connected with how we plan to move the ball and utilize certain opportunities like set plays on the field.

Also, every other team in our conference practices on their respective turf fields. What this means is that when a rainy day occurs every other team will be practicing meanwhile we will have to call off due to field conditions. This puts us at an extreme disadvantage going into our season of intense close games with our district rivals where the smallest advantage can easily be the difference in a win or a loss.

I do understand that lacrosse has never had the turf, but they are only in their third year of being a sport at FHN whereas girls soccer has accolades such as a state championship win under our belt. With these ideas in mind, girls soccer should have control of the turf for practice moving into the rest of the spring high school season.

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    High Time Lacrosse Abandons Low Quality Facilities

    By the time little girls turn five years old, they have learned two main things: how to play soccer, and how to share. But, it appears the FHN girls soccer team has only mastered one of these two skills. Girls soccer has had sole control of the turf for years, every year to be exact. And now that the lacrosse program has been implemented at Francis Howell North, it can easily be agreed upon that there needs to be a new reign of the stadium.

    Last season alone girls lacrosse had 19 games cancelled due to rain, which could have easily been moved to the turf if it was marked up. For a growing team this is much more than just the cancellation of 19 games. This is the loss of 19 opportunities to grow as individual players, mesh as a team and learn from success and mistakes in a competitive environment. You cannot get better if you spend a majority of your season solely watching film.

    Yes, soccer has 1 (one) singular state championship, but they have all been playing since they were 5 years old. Their fundamental skills are not being taught on the turf, honed in yes, but the concepts are not brand new. The skills and talent that are ever present on the soccer team come from years of dedication, not from stepping on some magic turf their freshman year. Lacrosse on the other hand is a new and growing sport. Many girls have never held a stick before tryouts. Having games and practices rained out consistently takes a much bigger hit on the lacrosse team than soccer. In terms of learning new skills, lacrosse practice time is far more valuable. No, lacrosse has not brought home championships, we can all agree on that. But, if you want a team that wins, give that team the necessary means to improve.

    But, the soccer girls can’t play on the grass field because, “it’s bumpy.” This seems a little hard to believe since the soccer boys share the turf with football and practice on the upper field with little to no complaints. It seems like “bumpy” is just an excuse for their poor passes.

    In addition, the conditions of turf and grass are very different. Whether it’s field players scooping ground balls or goalies tracking bounce shots, the two respond to play very differently. When the lacrosse team travels to away games on turf not only do we lose the home field advantage, we also have to learn in a matter of minutes how to play on the new terrain. Now that we are playing home games on turf, our practice location must reflect our game conditions. Without this similarity, even when we are at home we do not have a home field advantage.

    The overlying point is, neither sport is better than the other. Both are school sponsored and contain Francis Howell North student athletes who deserve adequate practice conditions. Both teams work hard and give their all no matter what terrain. Lacrosse isn’t demanding the soccer girls be banned from the stadium, but for our team to be allocated equal practice conditions of the other Knights. It is only 8 lines of paint, it does not need to draw a line between two teams.

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