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Different fields create different problems

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Cowgirl Soccer vs. TCU-3.jpg

The OSU soccer team lines up before the Cowgirl soccer game against TCU on Friday, October 9, 2020, at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater.

Even if a soccer pitch is a picturesque landscape of luscious green grass and crisp white boundaries, there is one way to help make the on-field product unattractive.

Make the field smaller.

Across the Big 12, soccer field variations vary. The standard pitch is 75 yards wide and 120 yards long, but that can change.

“Most fields that we play on at this level are somewhere between 75 by 115 (yards) and 80 by 120 (yards),” Cowgirl soccer coach Colin Carmichael said. “That’s the norm.”

The standard 75 by 120-yard field is common, but not uniform across the entirety of college soccer. Some fields are shrunken by 10 yards in both width in length.

Much like in the MLB, where a home run hit in Coors field could be a flyout in Globe Life Field, differing field dimensions in soccer complexes are sometimes the difference in a match.

The size of a certain field can lend itself to the playing style of one team more than another.

“As the field starts getting smaller, it takes away your ability to play pretty attractive soccer,” Carmichael said. “There are more confrontations because there is less space.”

Though he said that one or two yards do not make a huge difference in a match, there is certainly a point where a shrunken or enlarged field becomes noticeable.

“When you start getting into 72 yards wide instead of 76 and 116 instead of 120, that can start making a difference,” Carmichael said. “It just shuts down the amount of space on the field.”

Though most fields across the Big 12 share pretty similar dimensions, that has not always been the case.

The oddest field dimensions Carmichael has seen in the Big 12 was at R.P. Fuller Stadium — the home of Texas Tech until 2007.

“They used to have a field that was inside a track,” Carmichael said. “The track wasn’t (an) Olympic style track so it was very narrow. I don’t remember the exact dimensions, but I think 68 yards wide might have been the maximum.”

The other match Carmichael recalls when the field dimensions were extremely unusual was against a nonconference foe.

“We played one non-conference game against Xavier up in Cincinnati, and they had a turf field,” Carmichael said. “It was tiny. I don’t know the exact dimensions, but it must have been maybe 66 yards wide. That made a huge difference.”

Some players have strong opinions on what field dimensions they prefer, while others don’t consider it as much. Current Cowgirl wingback Charmé Morgan vouches for wider fields.

“Being a wingback, you want to have more space and have more ability to play,” said Morgan.

Sophomore forward Olyvia Dowell prefers playing on larger fields for the added space it provides midfielders and forwards to exploit.

“I would definitely prefer to play on a wider field. Just for my game and I think our team’s game all together… I think our team does a better job at playing when we have more space.”

Every field’s unique variations provide a puzzle for the visiting team to master. When the Cowgirls’ played against Baylor this year and could not scrounge up a goal, the skinnier field may have played a factor in getting adjusted to reduced space.

Though it may have provided an added challenge, the Cowgirls are not using it as an excuse. Field variations are something most of the players have dealt with for a long time.

“I think it has been kind of a thing throughout my soccer career, no matter what,” Dowell said. “Different clubs play at different facilities and they all do things a little differently.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com