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Turf switch is tough

The Baltimore Sun

Everybody, at one time or another, has likely played with one of those bouncy Super Balls. For soccer teams used to playing on natural grass all season long, that's what the first 20 or so minutes of a game are like when trying to adjust to playing on artificial turf.

Balls from in the air take higher bounces; ideal through balls instead find the goalie or quickly roll out of bounds. It's like, for the novice golfer, putting on a fast green and watching your ball streak past the hole, hoping it just stays on the green. Simply put, it's a harder, faster surface and it's way different from what players are used to.

A championship game - whether it involves the public schools at UMBC or a private schools championship game sometimes played at Calvert Hall or other artificial turf venues - is not the time to have to be making adjustments.

When the John Carroll girls soccer team won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown at Calvert Hall in 2006, coach Gary Lynch had his team practicing in a parking lot to prepare for the game. That really says it all.

Sure, times are changing, with more and more schools putting in advanced artificial turf that comes close to replicating the natural surface. But until every school does, there will be teams going to the biggest game of the year spending the first part of it and often more playing a different game altogether.

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