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Tournaments Oct 05, 2012

Md. SoccerPlex debuts new stadium field during Discovery Cup

Just forty days ago, the grounds crew at the Maryland SoccerPlex began a total renovation of the playing surface on the facility’s Championship Stadium, completely removing the existing grass and top layer of soil, then meticulously cultivating a new field from seed.

This weekend, the revitalized pitch gets its first dress rehearsal, hosting a match between two top Under-15 girls teams during the Discovery Cup tournament.

“The stadium field is gorgeous,” enthused SoccerPlex executive director Trish Heffelfinger in an email to Soccer Wire. “There is 98 percent grass coverage. Seed was planted on September 1-2 and we will play one game on the field on Saturday, between [U.S. Youth Soccer] national champions MSC Coyotes Green and Penn Legacy FC 97 Black U15 Girls.”

The ambitious resurfacing project marks the latest step forward for the intimate venue, which has hosted hundreds of international, professional and college matches over the past decade and will welcome the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s soccer championships later this fall.

SoccerPlex turf manager Jerad Minnick has led this unique effort from start to finish and has even hand-mowed – meaning he’s trimmed the grass with a push mower like ones most people use on their front yards – the surface himself up to this point, a painstaking process which he estimates takes four hours and involves more than eight miles of walking.

“He’s [also] collecting the clippings,” explained Heffelfinger. “It is very time-consuming but makes for a beautiful field. Because the grass is so young [you couldn’t put a normal field mower on it until [Friday].”

While there’s only one game in the Championship Stadium this weekend, some 200 elite girls’ youth teams will be flocking to the complex’s many other fields for the Discovery Cup. A portion of the tournament’s proceeds benefit the Holy Cross Hospital Mammography Center, and the nationwide celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month will be reflected in the use of pink field markings and ribbon designs – and pink game balls – throughout the SoccerPlex.

“Building awareness about breast cancer among these young women is one of the missions of this tournament,” said Heffelfinger.

[ +Visit the Discovery Cup’s home page for more information ]

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