It had been seven years, six months, and six days since the last home soccer game for Eagle Ridge Academy. And that game wasn’t even played at the school; it was held down the road at Donelson Park in Brighton. Up until 2023, the team had to play on neutral turf or on an opponent’s home field, even when they were the dedicated “home team.”
That all changed on April 27, when the school debuted its new, $2.5 million soccer field for the Warriors. The radiant green turf is decorated with beautiful maroon and gold around the perimeter. Construction, which began in October, is ongoing, but the field was playable and polished enough for the girls’ soccer match against Denver’s DSST College View High School.
The Warriors wasted no time enjoying their first-ever home field game, dominating College View in a 9-1 route. Felix Estrada, head girls’ soccer coach at Eagle Ridge, said the excitement to get on the field was through the roof.
“Oh man, they’re really excited,” Estrada said. “They’ve just wanted to play for so long, and with this new field that we got, they’re amazing. Last week, they were all anxious to be over here.”
The Warriors are 4-4 so far this year (MaxPreps), but have all of May to add to the win column, hoping to lean on their first-ever home-field advantage.
Though the season has been solid so far, he said, having a home field for the first time can act as a catalyst for success going forward. It’s easier to practice on and now is a symbol of pride for the Warriors. The community and camaraderie have always been there, but now there is their own castle to defend. It makes a difference, Estrada said.
“Now you can find the spaces,” he said. “You can teach them different stuff. You can create spaces for drills. You can do all these things with practice on the field [that we couldn’t do before]. It makes a difference, for sure.”
Athletic Director Zach Henning said anticipation has been percolating for months. Students would peer out the school’s windows while construction crews worked.>
“Within the past couple months of construction, I would routinely see our boys’ and girls’ soccer players out in the halls, with bathroom passes, watching the process of the field unfold,” Henning said. “As the soccer players wiped the drool off their faces, I urged them to head back to class.”
Finally, the players were invited onto the field for their first practice. Estrada let them be awestruck for a while, but soon it was time to get to work.
They deserve a field like this, he explained, so they need to get used to utilizing it.
“[As we] welcomed the girls’ soccer team on the field for the first time for practice, their smiles were ear to ear, and they hadn’t even touched a ball yet,” Henning said. “The girls literally laid on the ground and started petting the artificial turf.”
Unfortunately, the seniors on the boys’ team won’t be around to experience playing on the field themselves because their games take place in the fall. Their impending graduations didn’t stop them from coming out to support the girls’ team, and they said they’re proud Eagle Ridge is getting a state-of-the-art field at long last, with a little home-field advantage for once.
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