The start of fall practices had an extra dose of excitement for the Edward Little girls soccer players Monday morning.

They were the first Red Eddies team to use the new artificial turf field — which will be home this fall to the field hockey, football and soccer teams at Edward Little High School.

“It was really cool. I have been looking forward to this field for a while,” senior midfielder Katharine Garcia said. “Our old field was pretty muddy, so this is nice.”

Tyler Shennett, a 2010 Edward Little graduate who enters his first season a coach of the girls team, is pumped for the updated facilities, which replace the grass field the soccer teams used to play on.

“It’s crazy because I grew up playing in this complex,” Shennett said. “I have very fond memories of playing in high school. It definitely helped my love for soccer. It’s a full circle; it’s crazy to come back here and be in a situation where we have this beautiful new complex, beautiful new turf, and for the inaugural season, I am glad to be back as a former alumni and to see what the team can bring this season.”

The boys team met at the track adjacent to the field Monday morning and were to practice on the field in the evening. Coach Max Thompson said the turnout is the largest the boys team has had in a while, with about 50 players showing up on the first official day of the fall sports season.


The players were looking forward to practicing under the lights.

“I can’t wait. Like coach just said, we will be the first team (practicing) under the lights,” Joe Martel, a center back on the boys team, said. “… It’s a beautiful field, and I can’t wait to get out there to start playing with the boys. It will be a good time.”

Athletic director Todd Sampson was happy that the athletes were able to use the facility on time.

Edward Little girls varsity soccer coach Tyler Shennett, center with hand raised, runs drills with his team during the first day of tryouts for the upcoming season Monday morning on the new turf field at Edward Little High School in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Being an alum of Edward Little, and a resident of Auburn for most of my life, just to see these kids out here and have a top-notch quality facility, I can’t stop smiling,” Sampson said. “I am so happy for them because they have had some subpar facilities. Field hockey has been at Sherwood Heights, football has been at Walton — I know all the traditions at Walton Field — but it’s just good that they are going to be here right on campus.

“Like I said, I can’t stop smiling.”

He also credited the maintenance staff for getting the field ready for Monday’s practices after all the rain that fell the past few weeks.


“A couple of weeks ago, we got a significant rainfall and there was some concern, but our maintenance crew was awesome,” Sampson said. “They got it cleaned up and lines got painted on Saturday. Our kids have been itching to get out on it.”


Soccer balls will bounce truer on the artificial surface than the natural grass the teams used to play on. Players will also notice the ball will get to them quicker.

Garcia said it didn’t take too long to adjust to the speed of the passes Monday morning. She said the game is faster on turf than on natural grass.

“It’s faster play; you have to adjust quicker because the ball isn’t going to be going through longer grass,” Garcia said.

Izzy Jalbert, a goaltender on the girls team, said she needs to make some adjustments, but nothing too major.


“On the turf, I have to be aware of how the ball bounces versus a natural surface,” Jalbert said. “I definitely will have to wear (goalkeeper) pants or I will get a little bit of turf burn, but it’s not that much different.”

Eli St. Laurent, a goalie on the boys team, said the turf will allow the Red Eddies to be more effective in the ball control game they like to play.

“There’s not going to be any weird bounces like you have on natural fields,” St. Laurent said. “The ball is going to stay low, and we are going to trap it a lot easier. Ball possession is what coach wants us to do and we are definitely going to do that year.”

Martel said the team will see a difference in how they execute their ball-control game.

“Honestly, it’s a pretty big difference,” Martel said. “Our field last year wasn’t in the greatest condition — you got a lot of unlucky bounces, you got wild bounces. On turf, you can read every bounce perfectly. … It makes it a lot more predictable, easier to play the long balls, and have a good first touch.”

Shennett said the artificial turf also fits the style he wants the girls team to play.


“The main thing is I want to play expansive, I want to play possession ball, and I want to move the ball quickly,” Shennett said. “I don’t want us to hold onto it for too long. It’s very important for us to be aware of the speed of the pitch. If we aren’t taking that into consideration, we can be torn apart. It’s finally nice to be out here and get some time on (the field). I am looking forward to the girls playing faster than they are used to.”

Both teams will play the majority of the season on turf now. Thompson said 75% of the boys game will be played on turf.

Thompson said the turf won’t change how the boys team plays, but having a turf field will affect how they practice.

“In terms of how it will change the way we play, I hope it makes us a better team,” Thompson said. “Maybe we aren’t worrying so much about what training activities we do and how it will impact the field. It’s kind of weird to think about moving your lines so you don’t create mud and all that stuff. I hope it creates a better training environment for us — we get to train later and not always have to work under daylight hours.”

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