The grass field at Harder Stadium was unable to sustain the 1.14″ of rain that fell in Goleta yesterday, forcing the Athletic Dept. to postpone the men’s soccer game initially scheduled with Irvine for 7 tonight.
UCSB women’s soccer Head Coach Paul Stumpf said that although the playing conditions are not ideal, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams are prepared to compete in wet conditions.
“If they absolutely had to they could play a game,” Stumpf said. “The way it is right now it would affect the game.”
Currently the field is engulfed by water and would turn to mud if played on. The water has created ditches and soft spots in the turf, which would cause a soccer ball to stop completely in its tracks and create a larger likelihood for injury.
“When you have the #1 team in the nation you want the best playing surface possible,” Stumpf said. “A bad field condition helps the worse team.”
Media Relations Director Bill Mahoney said that although the teams have played in the rain before, yesterday’s downpour was severe enough to postpone what would have been today’s game until tomorrow.
Last year UCSB men’s soccer Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg spearheaded a campaign to raise $150,000 to upgrade the field at Harder Stadium. Because the stadium was originally used as a football field, the drainage system was placed under the actual playing field. The money raised by the men’s and women’s soccer teams went towards changing and upgrading the field by moving the drains to the outside of the field and replacing the field with grass that could actually grow.
“We did what we could do and what was most important,” Vom Steeg said. “We made a field that could now grow grass and be a full regular soccer field.”
However, according to both Stumpf and Vom Steeg, the grass is not in nearly as good condition as it was in last year. Typically, Harder Stadium is shut down over the summer to allow the grass to regrow. However, due to the delayed installation of field turf on Rob Field, Harder Stadium remained open over the summer.
“The stadium field became overflow for things that were going to go somewhere else,” Vom Steeg said. “We didn’t feel like the field got closed long enough over the summer to make sure it was 100% when we started our season.”
Consequently, the field could be destroyed in one game after the onset of rain.
“It didn’t have time to saturate,” Mahoney said. “I think it’s salvageable.”
Unlike Harder Stadium, the rain has not affected conditions at the newly remodeled Rob Field, where both the men’s and women’s soccer teams practice.
John Spaventa, Director of Exercise & Sport Studies and Recreation, worked with the Recreation Governing Board to raise the $1.6 million needed to install the all-weather turf. Spaventa said the field turf is a synthetic product placed on a graded surface of crushed rock and dirt. Grass blades are placed on a synthetic carpet with a rubber surface. Water goes through the membrane, allowing for successful draining.
“You don’t experience mud and the type of conditions found with natural grass,” Spaventa said. “There’s very little upkeep necessary.”
The field-turf, although exorbitantly expensive according to Mahoney, is guaranteed for 10 years.
Maintenance for Harder Stadium is more time consuming than it is for Rob Field, according to Facilities and Operation Manager Joe Ballesteros.
“We have it on a quarterly maintenance plan of airation and fertilization,” Ballesteros said. “It’s groomed about once a month.”
The men’s and women’s soccer teams fund additional maintenance provided by the company that revamped Harder Stadium.
Although the field turf at Rob Field is more maintenance and weather friendly, neither Stumpf nor Vom Steeg would request field turf to be installed at Harder Stadium.
“Regular grass is what that stadium needs,” Stumpf said. “Playing on regular grass is much more special than playing on turf.”
Vom Steeg said that because UCSB has so many practice fields on campus, Harder Stadium needs to remain a competiton field.
“One of these fields needs to be your championship field and that’s Harder Stadium,” he said. “It needs to be treated like a game field.”