Scout Field is like many other soccer fields that can be found in the area. Its dimensions are standard and conditions well maintained. In every way, the field is fair.
Yet, for the Haddonfield Memorial High School girls’ soccer program, Scout Field might as well be holy ground—a place so sacred to Haddonfield that others dare not trespass on it or they will leave in a lesser way than then they arrived.
Eighty-one times a bus has dropped off a visiting girls’ soccer team and 81 times that same bus has been there to take the team home absent of a victory. The fact that Haddonfield has only lost 19 games total in the last eight years is eye-popping, but the idea of it not losing a single contest in 81 games (80-0-1) at Scout Field is just plain silly.
"Given that we are talking about 16-, 17- and 18-year-old student-athletes, the record is definitely a special one," said Haddonfield coach Glenn Gess. "Especially when we've played a ton of big games on that field."
Scout Field has not only seen big conference and Coaches Cup games, but has been host to playoff games against some of the best teams South Jersey has to offer. Also, consider that for 81 games the Bulldawgs have not only outplayed their opponents, but also overcame any bad bounces, blown calls or team turbulence that can pop up when dealing with a group of high school teenagers.
Gess said the players embrace the responsibility of keeping the record perfect.
"We do mention the record because I know our kids take pride in it, but you have to make sure it doesn't add any extra pressure," Gess said. "Our success at Scout can be attributed to the mindset our kids have when they play at home but another major reason is the condition of the field. It is no secret that we have some of the worst fields in the state. When teams come to Scout (or the Stadium), the first thing you hear our opponent and their coaches talking about is the condition of our field. They definitely get psyched out because most of them have nice grass fields or turf."
For competitors, the condition of the field is not nearly as concerning as the results they come away with.
“It hasn’t been a friendly place for us,” West Deptford coach Veronica McGinniss said after a loss last season. “There have been a handful of games here where you feel like you are going to get that elusive victory and it just never turns out that way. I feel like we are always right there with them, but we haven't been able to get the wins. It's a credit to them.”
Haddonfield will be relying on an experienced defense this season as it hopes to not only keep its home winning streak intact, but also defend its Colonial Conference Liberty Division and South Jersey Group 2 championships. Senior Olivia Blaber returns to the familiar role as the team’s sweeper, a spot that earned her All-Group 2 honors in 2011. Senior defenders Gretchen Kiep and Bridget Yako, as well as sophomore Carly Bonnet round out a defensive unit that will be very tough to score on.
Things are a little less certain up front after the departure of leading scorer Katie Johnston (now playing soccer at the University of William and Mary), but Emily Carson returns to the forward position as a senior and junior midfielders Kylie Kirk, Lauren Roberts and Grace Baccare should add some scoring punch.
Haddon Heights looks to be a serious threat in the Liberty Division this year and West Deptford also returns a bunch of talent, but there is little doubt that Haddonfield remains the team to beat.
Every year some faces change and every year the undefeated record holds.
Considering how great the Bulldawgs play at Scout field, it’s hard to see that status changing any time soon.