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Spuds soccer teams excited for new turf field

Moorhead - The excitement around the renovations to Moorhead’s Jim Gotta Stadium is so focused around its Friday-night football debut, much has been forgotten about the Tuesday and Thursday varsity nights the new field turf will provide.

The Moorhead football team had some redecorating done, but the Spuds soccer program is moving into a completely new home. The boys soccer team opens the housewarming party at

4 p.m. Friday as the first varsity event on Jim Gotta Stadium’s new turf field.

For over a decade, the fields at Horizon Middle School have been the home of Moorhead boys and girls soccer. The Spuds were proud to call it home, but it was missing the little varsity details that completely change an experience for a high school athlete.

“We are very excited to play at the high school,” Moorhead girls soccer coach Nicole Wiesner said. “We have speakers surrounding the field for warmups, starting announcements and the national anthem. We will have stands for our parents and fans, so they don’t need to bring their own chairs. We will have sheltered benches to keep us from the elements and, of course, we will have the lights.”

If not for an occasional flag sporting the Moorhead ‘M’ along the fence, a game at Horizon seemed like just another game instead of a high school varsity event.

There’s just something about a team having their high school as a backdrop rather than two miles away that changes things.

“The turf will really be nice, because it’s at the high school, so we won’t have to travel,” Moorhead captain Hannah Riveland said. “Being under the lights and being on the turf is going to be a different feeling. It’s just that feeling you get of Friday night lights and that girls soccer is just as important as football or anything else.”

Moorhead boys soccer coach Lance Hansen admitted that he was a little sad on Thursday after the boys soccer team played its final game at Horizon.

“We have a lot of memories there, even though it was not the best pitch and we complained about it,” Hansen said. “We went to state in 2012 on that field. Soccer isn’t always played on the best pitch, but it’s the memories you build on it that matters.”

Wiesner remembers tougher times in her playing days for Moorhead soccer.

“(Horizon) had concession stands, speakers and a scoreboard,” Wiesner said. “Back in the ’90s Moorhead played and practiced on fields where the Menards is now. We also had a field behind the school. Neither place had any of those things I mentioned, so Horizon was a big upgrade.”

But it was never home.

The girls soccer program got a taste of a home next to their school last season when the Spuds played Detroit Lakes at Jim Gotta Stadium on Sept. 19. The Spuds won 4-0, but it wasn’t just another victory.

“There was just this different vibe about it that was really exciting and fun,” Riveland said.

Moorhead’s girls soccer team stepped on the Jim Gotta Stadium turf for the first time at practice on Tuesday. The girls soccer team will play on the turf for the first time on Sept. 12.

“It is awesome,” Moorhead captain Kaylee Barker said. “The ball moves a lot faster. We have to get our touches better, our passes more crisp. It makes us so much better, cleaner and faster and we’re just excited to play where everyone else plays.”

Hansen may have been a little sad after the boys final game at Horizon, but there was one thing going through captain Will Borgen’s head after the 2-0 win over Fargo South.

“I’m excited to be done here,” Borgen said. “(Horizon) is a little more bumpy and doesn’t compare to the turf. There’s room for stands for people to come to our games. We’re excited.”

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is the Minnesota preps and Fargo Force beat reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so. If reading him in the paper and online isn't enough, you can read more of him at the Forum Preps Blog: http://forumpreps.areavoices.com/  

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