It’s a change of pace that will allow Ball State to keep up with its Mid-American Conference opponents.

 

The field hockey facility at Briner Sports Complex was upgraded to FieldTurf Hockey Speed over the summer. The water-based artificial turf uses a sprinkler system to saturate the field before games and practices.  

 

“The ball moves a lot faster,” junior midfielder Tori Widrick said. “We can use our practice time to really get used to that. It’s going to help a lot, because most of the fields that we play on are water-based turf so when we go to other place we’ll be more comfortable and relaxed.”

 

With the exception of Missouri State, every team in the MAC plays on water-based turf systems. Head coach Beth Maddox said the majority of non-conference teams play on similar fields as well.

 

“It makes a big difference, because we were the only team in the MAC that had dry turf,” Maddox said. “When we go everywhere else, they practice on water every day. To play on it makes a big difference because it changes your skill set a bit.”

 

Maddox said this upgrade helped the Cardinals “catch up” to other teams in the conference.

 

The MAC implemented a rule that in order for any school to host the conference tournament, it would be required to have a field with its own watering system. The same rule applies for schools to host NCAA tournament games.

 

After finishing last season 4-14, the Cardinals failed to qualify for the MAC tournament. Maddox and her team hope to see an improvement in offense as a result of practicing on the new field.

 

The team’s first chance to measure its growth will come against Iowa at 3 p.m. on Thursday. The Hawkeyes have captured 22 NCAA tournaments in program history, and after finishing last season 14-7, look to be a solid opponent.

 

“It’s really beneficial to play a team that plays at a high-caliber,” Maddox said. “It definitely is hard, but it’s always good to be competitive with somebody other than your own teammates.”

 

As for Widrick, she’s looking forward to competing with her fellow Cardinals again.  

 

“I’ve been waiting for months and months,” she said. “I’ve been itching to get back with the team, and we’ve really developed well so far, so I’m excited.”