Example: Stonington’s Stephanie Stearns was phenomenal in the Bears’ 3-0 win over Immaculate in the Class S state tournament field hockey semifinals Tuesday night on the turf at Guilford High School, sprinting, dribbling, weaving in and out of defenders.
“People keep telling me she was really good that game,” Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said. “She is that good. She has been that good. You just can’t see it as much when you play on grass. On turf, everybody can be so much more precise.
“Part of me still likes the grass, it’s gritty and it’s hardcore. But on turf, you can see their skills.”
The sixth-seeded Bears will play No. 3 Haddam-Killingworth in the state championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday on another turf field at Wethersfield High School. Stonington lost to H-K 1-0 in overtime during the regular season on grass.
It has yet to be determined whether the change in surface will make a difference in the tenor of the game between the two teams.
Tucchio, however, can look forward to her players being able to show off their skills daily next season as Stonington residents recently passed an initiative to install artificial turf at the high school, a project expected to be completed by next August.
“Skill acquisition’s going to come a lot quicker,” Tucchio said. “How many times on grass have you seen the ball bump right when you pass it left?”
Stearns herself, one of the Bears’ senior captains, said she’s kind of partial to having played on grass, saying if you can play on that surface you can play anywhere.
“It’s more of a challenge. You have to work harder,” Stearns said Thursday, as Stonington practiced on the turf at Waterford High School (the Bears will practice Friday on turf at Conn College). “I like the challenge better. It’s more old-fashioned, down and dirty.”
But senior captain Amanda Roy, a defender, wishes she was going to be around to play on the new turf at Stonington.
Said Roy: “I feel sharper on the turf. It’s more challenging on grass. On turf, you’re going to receive everything. Everybody’s executing a little crisper.”