High School Girls Soccer

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Girls Soccer Notes

September 4, 2011

9/3

*****Brunswick, which was at one point the #1 ranked team in the country according to the NSCAA rankings, opened its season with a win over Oxford Hills. Gone from last year's squad, All-American Allison Walton, who scored 82 goals in her Brunswick career. Walton has registered two assists in six games so far at Providence College. As for the current Dragons, Coach Martyn Davison is pleased with team's ball movement.” A game to look forward to? Bangor at Brunswick on Saturday the 24th of September.

*****Buzzer beaters were en vogue in season openers. In Rangeley Sandra Campbell scored with five seconds left to lift the Lakers past Greenville, and Leavitt's Tori Zupancic helped the Hornets to a win over Medomak netting the game winner with 26 seconds left.

9/2

****After tearing up the KVAC last year as a freshman, coaches in the Western Maine Conference will get a chance to try to do what others couldn't do last year; slow down Melanie Vangel. The sophomore who was second in the state in scoring last year with 32 goals while playing for Camden Hills, opened her first season at Cape Elizabeth with a hat trick against Yarmouth.

Buzzer beaters were en vogue in season openers. In Rangeley Sandra Campbell scored with five seconds left to lift the Lakers past Greenville, and Leavitt's Tori Zupancic helped the Hornets to a win over Medomak netting the game winner with 26 seconds left.

8/27

The State Championship Site Debate

The Maine Principals Association continues to retool it's format for host sites for the soccer state championships. For this season the MPA has decided to have the Class A and D finals at Falmouth high school, while the Class B and C titles will be played at Hampden Academy.

This will be the third season the MPA has chosen to group four games at one site in an effort to emulate the popularity of other 'Super Saturday' high school championships like football and lacrosse, which hold all of their title games on one day at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The motives of scheduling four games at one site was overdue and in the best intentions of the sport and its following.

Unfortunately, gripes of travel and geography have interfered in the progress made in creating a 'quasi-Super Saturday'. There have also been complaints regarding the use of artificial playing surfaces, as the majority of schools play on natural grass.

Soccer in Maine will be hard pressed find an answer for the geographic advantages some schools will have entering a state championship. This is a expansive state, and one where schools that rest hundreds of miles apart often meet for championships. Combine that with the fact that some of the best facilities also house some of the premiere programs in the state, and you flirt with the possibility of a host school having one of it's programs in the finals. Just two years into this format of hosting championships we have seen two host programs: the Scarborough boys in 2009, and the Falmouth girls in 2010, play in championship games on their own field.

It's obvious this isn't fair.. Both the Brunswick boys in 2009 and Caribous girls in 2010 faced this challenge. In some instances there is a simple remedy to avoid host school's playing championships on their own sites. Except in cases where a school has both its boys and girls teams in the state title game, and it makes sense for both programs to play on one site, does one site have to host both games within a classificataion? Why is it so important that the 'A' boys and 'A' girls games be played on the same field when there are four different schools involved? Could a host school be shipped off to another location, thus, creating an uneven amount of boys and girls games at one site?

Relocating a host school won't always be possible, like last year when the four 'C' and 'D' finals featured just four schools. But the playing field can be evened by allowing the opposing team an opportunity to practice at the state site when it faces a team that calls that site its home. This has long been an opportunity that has been granted to basketball teams prior to playing in championships at a location where they haven't played before. Even though some schools must pay to rent time at the Bangor Auditorium, many feel it's worth the cost. Since all state soccer championship sites are played at public schools, there shouldn't be a 'rental' cost that would dissuade a program from traveling for a practice.

While it can be seen as unfair for a non-turf team to have to play a championship game on a new playing surface, the move to 'field turf' finals solves one of the great imperfections of the previous system of having state finals at four-neutral sites chosen mainly for geographic fairness. By early November, the months of beating these grass fields have taken, made many next to unplayable. While a 'field turf' experience is different in speed, it at least offers a uniformity that grass fields in November in Maine cannot. Say good-bye to missing sod and uneven grass. Also, many championship games in previous years were played on fields that were crowned for drainage, which altered any rolling pass intended to shift from one side of the field to the other.

At the same time, the sites that have been chosen to host championships afford the players and fans the feeling of playing in a stadium atmosphere, with better seating and sight lines. This has been a major upgrade. In some regards, the last straw for playing at four-neutral sites was the 2008 Class 'D' Finals held at Schenk High School in East Millinocket. While it was chosen for its geographic neutrality, the field was a mess, and the seating constraints forced spectators to stand behind the team's benches.

The ongoing debate about state championship locations will be thrown another curveball in another few years as Aroostook County enters the mix. In the MPA's soccer bulletin, it states “State championship games will rotate from a Western Maine to Eastern Maine site every year with the 5th year of a rotation looking to schedule games at an Aroostook County location.” While schools in the southern part of the state might balk at the prospect of a 300 mile drive to play in a title game, the Johnson Complex in Presque Isle offers similar amenities of those stadiums in Scarborough and Falmouth.

It's just another part of the evolution of this process. SportsInMe.Com applauds the efforts so far to consolidate the championships at venues with superior playing surfaces and spectator seating. Are there ways to make it better? Yes. But if you ask any player opening his/her season this week, if given the chance, would you play the state championship game on the Maine Turnpike if that was the host site? The answer would speak volumes about this debate.

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