DURHAM, N.H.-- The brand new $1.5 million Memorial Field project at the University of New Hampshire has been completed and is ready for action. As a result, the UNH field hockey and women's lacrosse teams will play the historic first games on the AstroTurf surface this weekend.

The field hockey team, which will have the honor of playing the first regular season varsity contest on the new surface, will entertain Providence this Saturday (Sept. 28). Game time is 1 p.m.

"The new Memorial Field upgrade exhibits the University's commitment to take the athletics program to new levels," said UNH athletic director Marty Scarano. "Specifically field hockey and lacrosse will immediately benefit from this fabulous upgrade. In the near future many programs will benefit from not only the Memorial upgrade but the construction of the wonderful AstroPlay surface above Cowell Stadium. These facilities give the University state-of-the-art, futuristic resources to enhance it's overall image and add quality to student life," said UNH athletic director Marty Scarano."

The advantage of the new field will quickly become obvious as rain is expected Friday into Saturday. In the past that might have forced a postponement or cancellation due to standing water and dangerous conditions. With the new AstroTurf, drainage is no problem and the game will go on as scheduled, rain or shine.

UNH Field hockey has been playing at the Memorial site since 1975. During that time, the squad posted over 120 victories. Under 12th-year head coach Robin Balducci, the Wildcats have recorded a 45-26-1 record on Memorial Field.

Also utilizing the new field this weekend will be the UNH women's lacrosse team, which will host its annual Wildcat Fall Classic tournament at Memorial Field on Sept. 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In addition to UNH, the tourney includes UConn, UMass and Vermont .

Also nearing completion is the AstroPlay surface, which will be used for varsity team practices , recreation and community use, located on upper field behind the tennis courts. That $1.5 million project is expected to be completed by Oct. 6, which will allow the football team to practice under the lights in preparation for UNH's Homecoming matchup vs. William & Mary on Oct. 12 at 12 p.m. in Durham.

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