NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Saturday's NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championships are set to begin on Saturday and the Sweet Sixteen promises no shortage of fireworks.
Top-ranked North Carolina (20-1) faces Stanford (16-6). Number two Princeton (17-1), will play Drexel (15-6). Third-ranked University of Connecticut (18-2) plays Northeastern. Fourth-ranked Penn State (17-3) will take on Albany (13-7).
Other matchups include Michigan (15-6) taking on Old Dominion University, Syracuse (17-2) facing the University of Massachusetts (15-8), Lafayette (17-2) playing defending champion Maryland (16-5), and Virginia (15-5) against Iowa (14-6).
For the second year in a row, 15 of the 16 teams in the field play their home games on AstroTurf, the world's leading surface for field hockey.
AstroTurf 12 systems were first used in an international field hockey event in 1975 in Montreal. The same field hosted the Olympics in 1976.
AstroTurf surfaces were also used in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The AstroTurf System 12 has also seen play in the Pan Am games, World Cup and numerous other field hockey events. The U.S. National team trains on AstroTurf in Chula Vista, California, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
AstroTurf System 12 pitches are made of a short-pile, knitted nylon product which conforms to the sport's need for high degrees of planarity, extremely tight tolerances, and sophisticated drainage systems. AstroTurf System 12 pitches provide uniform traction and consistent footing. The fibers are UV-resistant, have a low-glare surface, and reduce the need for watering and maintenance costs. AstroTurf has the most extensive research and development department in the world dedicated to bringing the next generation of field hockey systems.
If there is any doubt about the benefits of AstroTurf in developing a superior team, just look at the combined records of the teams in this year's Sweet Sixteen. The overall record of the teams in 2012 is 253-71. That's a winning percentage of .719.
"AstroTurf definitely plays a role in building better teams," said Pam Hixon, Field Hockey Ambassador for AstroTurf, and a Hall of Famer who is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history. "We're proud to have been a part in helping build winning traditions at these fine schools."
Jeff Graydon, Associate Athletic Director for Facilities at number two ranked Princeton University believes in the AstroTurf playing surface and its ability to help teams.
"We wanted to create a consistent surface that gives the team with the highest skill level the best opportunity to win," said Graydon. "A poor surface is a great equalizer, and a great field provides high level play with an advantage. That's what the AstroTurf system gives us."
The field hockey playing surface is a source of pride and a valuable tool to each field hockey program in the tournament.
"We consider our AstroTurf field to be one of the top practice and game facilities in the country," according to third-ranked UConn head coach Nancy Stevens. "We have had several visiting teams install the same field after playing at Connecticut. There can be no better endorsement."
Over the past 31 years, every team that has won the NCAA Championship at the Division I level has played its home games on AstroTurf. Twenty-seven of those championships are held by teams in this year's Sweet Sixteen. Old Dominion University has nine, Maryland has eight, North Carolina has six, UConn has two, and Iowa and Michigan have one each.
The NCAA Championships are played at a set location each year and there has never been an NCAA Championship that wasn't won on an AstroTurf playing surface. This year's semi-finals and championship games are being hosted by Old Dominion University at the Powhatan Sports Complex on the ODU campus in Norfolk, Virginia.
News and information on the tournament can be found on the NCAA's website at http://www.ncaa.com/sports/fieldhockey/d1.