Burrell teams take to turf at refurbished stadium

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Friday, October 2, 2020 | 7:35 PM


The wait is over.

More than four months after ground broke on the stadium project to install an artificial turf field, replace the track and upgrade other areas at Burrell’s Buccaneers Stadium, soccer and football teams will get the chance to compete on the new surface.

The first game is 1 p.m. Saturday when the boys soccer team hosts Derry. The girls soccer team hosts rival Freeport at 7 p.m. Monday.

“Everything looks beautiful, from the field itself to everything around it,” an excited Burrell athletic director Drake D’Angelo said Friday. “It’s all for our community. It will be an awesome surface for our kids. The teams also are getting the chance to practice in a facility that is top notch. They will be able to go out there right after school and not have get on a bus or drive somewhere.”

D’Angelo said there is a two-week window for practices and games — from now until Oct. 15 — before the stadium will close for a week so work crews are able to complete the track and finish a couple of other aspects of the project.

When the stadium reopens, the varsity football team will host Derry on Oct. 23 before the last game currently scheduled, a middle school football game against Southmoreland on Oct. 28.

“We are really excited,” Burrell boys soccer coach Andrew Kariotis said.

“With some of the delays, we weren’t sure if it was really going to happen (this fall). It kept getting pushed back. We have a pretty skilled team, and it’s hard to see that sometimes when you are practicing and playing on grass. We didn’t get much rain all summer, so it kind of wrecked our practice field (at Kotecki Park). It is a great opportunity to be on the new field, especially to prepare for some of the tougher games coming up.”

The Burrell boys, 3-1 overall and in Section 2-AA play, host Shady Side Academy (4-1, 4-0) on Tuesday starting with the JV game at 5:30. The rest of the home slate features senior night against Ligonier Valley on Oct. 12 and Valley on Oct. 14.

The Burrell girls, 4-0 overall and in Section 2-AA, pay a visit to Shady Side Academy (2-0, 2-0) on Saturday before Monday’s game with the Yellowjackets. The Bucs, the defending Section 2 champions, are unbeaten in their last 20 section games.

After Monday’s matchup with Freeport, their home slate will include Shady Side Academy (2-0, 2-0) on Wednesday, Deer Lakes next Saturday, Valley on Oct. 13 and Highlands on Oct. 15.

“We are elated to be back competing on our home field,” Bucs girls coach Frank Nesko said. “We can’t wait. We’re so happy for the seniors who will get a chance to play on the field before they are done. It’s great for all the programs moving into the future to have a facility of this caliber.”

The boys and girls soccer teams had the chance to get a feel for the turf in the early evening Friday as the squads shared the turf for a practice.

The Burrell football team, which traveled to Class 3A No. 2 North Catholic on Friday for an Allegheny Conference contest, will practice on the new turf for the first time Monday.

Its first game at home will be next Friday against conference rival Deer Lakes.

“Everyone is looking forward to (Friday),” football coach Shawn Liotta said. “With everything going on this year with the covid-19, having to play these games on the road and not being able to play in front of any of our fans, the guys have been pretty resilient through it all. It will be special to be home, and we will get to celebrate senior night. Friday will be a reward for what they’ve been through.”

D’Angelo said he is proud of the way student athletes have been patient throughout the process.

“Our Burrell kids are outstanding and have done an awesome job not only with this process with the stadium but also everything that has had to happen with covid,” he said. “They’re doing everything they’re asked to do. That is a shining light on our community and the parents of our community raising great people.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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