Sonoma Valley’s soccer girls tie Vintage in year’s only match at Arnold Field

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Playing on the cramped grounds of Arnold Field for the only time this season, the girls varsity soccer team went toe-to-toe with Vintage High, ending the night with a 1-1 tie.

Neither team could manage a goal in the first half, despite the Dragons possessing the ball for much of the match. After the Crushers drew first blood five minutes into the second half, the Dragons rebounded with a well-played goal of their own in an “epic sequence,” as Coach Mike Verdu put it, set up by juniors Lily Morgan and Alexia Contreras.

It ended with junior Auguste Andi, in the right place at the right time, launching a rocket over the head of the Vintage goalie, who sprawled in the grass and watched the ball dig into the net.

Verdu however was frustrated by his team’s inability to score more goals, which he attributed in part to Arnold Field. “The small grass field does not suit our team speed very well and we were forced to play a cramped style, and that’s not us.”

Though he acknowledged that the field conditions are the same for both squad, he did say “It is a shame that we our home field is not suitable for a full size soccer field!”

Arnold Field measures just shy of 120 yards, but it’s well short of the preferred 80-yard width, being only 60 yards from edge to edge. But high school playing field sizes are subject to guidelines, not law – they can be between 90 and 120 yards long, and 55 to 80 yards wide, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

By those guidelines, Arnold Field qualifies as a legal field for high school competition. But it’s not the only problem: the condition of the venerable turf field is subject to the weather, and while the projected mid-week rains didn’t turn it into the “swamp” it can become, the varsity boys have a game scheduled for Arnold Field next Tuesday, Feb. 5 – their last of the season – against league rival Petaluma.

The Sonoma Valley soccer teams, boys and girls, practice at Adele Harrision Middle School, located next door to the high school, and play some of their home games there as well. (The fields at Petaluma’s Lucchesi Park serve as “home” for several soccer games.) Though the Adele field is the right size, 120 by 80, the facility lacks lights – limiting late-afternoon practice time and eliminating night games altogether.

“All in all I’m very proud of how we battled,” concluded Verdu. “We were by far the more physical team, we just played down to their level and it hurt us.”

There are only two games left in the SVHS girls soccer season, at American Canyon on Friday, Feb. 1, and the following Monday, Feb. 4, a “home game” against Petaluma at Lucchesi Field.

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