Facing a difficult schedule is no rarity for the University of Richmond field hockey team. This year's early-season schedule was no different with two games against nationally ranked teams on the road.
What was different, though, was how the Spiders were forced to prepare for those games.
The turf at Crenshaw Field was replaced during the summer and the project was not completed until last month. During that time, the Spiders had to travel to different fields for practices and did not play a home game until Sept. 23, playing their first seven games on the road.
Although the Spiders had to play away for the first month of the season, senior forward Katelin Peterson said that the inconvenience had been worth it.
"The new turf is amazing," she said. "We're so thankful and so blessed to have it."
Based on its results at home so far this season, the Spiders have taken advantage of the new turf.
Richmond has won four of its five games at Crenshaw Field this season with its only loss coming last month, 2-0, to No. 1 Old Dominion University.
The new turf is flatter than the previous one, Peterson said. That has prevented the ball from taking odd hops and allowed for all the players to get a better read on passes.
The only negative has been how slippery the turf is because it's new, Peterson said. That has appeared to help Richmond though, with more opponents appearing to fall during games than Richmond players.
The effects of the new turf were not limited to the play on the field. Players have taken pride in their new turf, Richmond coach Gina Lucido said.
"There was a pride in our home field that had been lost a little bit over the years," said Lucido, who is in her fifth year coaching at Richmond. "To have the privilege of having such a great playing surface, something that we said we could control and make this our field again. We can make it a threatening place when teams come here. The team has taken that to heart."
In a two-day, two-game stretch in October, Richmond made Crenshaw a scary place for opponents by scoring six goals each game against Saint Louis University and Pacific University.
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The original, 10-year-old turf was removed at the end of July and the new AstroTurf field was not placed until mid-September. During that time, the players traveled to Virginia Beach for pre-season practice and to VCU's field for practice during the season.
The travel forced Richmond to have shorter practices than normal because it had to pay to use turf. Practices were limited to two hours, Peterson said, including the time it took for the players to warm up and cool down.
"It really challenged the team to make the most of the time we had on the field since we didn't have a lot of practice time," Peterson said.
The constant travel prevented the team from having the same amount of practice as previous years, something that did not faze Lucido. She said having been forced to travel to practice made the team stronger entering Atlantic 10 Conference play.
"While I'll be the first to say it was frustrating, it definitely served for the good because the girls had the attitude to make it good," Lucido said.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at email@example.com
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