Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Granville, Ohio. Bexley girls soccer team defeats Granville Blue Aces.

The evening drive from Bexley to Granville is during rush hour. The amount of traffic on SR 16 from Hamilton Road to Summit Station surprises.

Near the Reynoldsburg East Broad Street Giant Eagle, just before Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road, two police officers are walking in the bushes along the roadway.

With rifles.

Is there an injured deer from a collision with an auto? Escaped convict? Stopped speeder fleeing on foot?

Or has hunting season begun early?

By the time we reach Pataskala, the rush hour traffic has broken up. We realize, it is the early evening of a beautiful Autumn day.

Perfect for a girls soccer match. Or a boys soccer match or football for that matter.

Conversation turns to picking apples at the Lynd Fruit Farm just north of Pataskala. The apple crop was devastated by the Easter frost last Spring.

Most central Ohio orchards have cancelled pick-your-own harvest this year. The Lynds have only three weeks of pick-your-own scheduled: last week and the next two weekends. On their website they caution that there isn’t much of a crop.

We arrive in Granville at dusk. Retail commerce in downtown Granville bustles. The Alladin Restaurant has repaired and restored its sidewalk neon light. A period piece from the 1920s.

Simple black and white painted metal with white neon light giving a warm glow to the evening.

The Granville Inn parking lot is almost full and the Buxton Inn front porch is busy. Cocktails anyone? Perhaps a scotch and soda?

We turn on North Pearl Street. SR 661. A short distance further we enter the sports fields zone.

Granville is tidy but how they developed their local sports facilities has not been too orderly. An aesthetic of freedom. The design of liberty.

To the west of SR 661 are the Denison university fields. For football, soccer, lacrosse. All well maintained but not arranged with any pattern. Same for the Granville municipal fields to the northeast. A clutter of fences and surfaces. And then to the west again, yet more sports fields.

This time they are the fields of Granville schools. These are the ones we are looking for. The lighting on the soccer field casts a blue silver light. Spectators ignore the parking lots and use the lane running to the soccer fields. Seems to be both the Bexley guests and Granville natives who prefer parking close to the fields on the edge of the gravel lane.

Autumn chill is in the air. I take a blanket from the car.

Admission is $5.00 each. The ticket clerk is jovial. He is a little apologetic about the price of admission. I wonder why. Five dollars isn’t out of the typical range for high school sports.

Then I recall the ticket costs for the Bexley-Hartley game at the Crew stadium next weekend. Now those are prices that need apology.

The concession stand is nearby. It is clean and conveniently located. The menu is pretty standard. I get a hotdog with mustard. I want a Coke but they have only Gatorade and water. The hotdog is larger than usual, sweet and hot. Mustard jar is low on mustard. The mustard I use is a bit runny. I think someone has diluted the mustard to stretch it through the night’s sales.

The walk from the concession stand to the bleachers passes a group of six Granville fans. Baseball caps and jackets with Blue Aces logos and “Granville” embroidered into the fabric. Men, too old to be fathers of team members. Just local Blue Aces fans. They look like they might be the local bookies. I suppress the impulse to ask if I can place a bet.

The bleachers are wooden and well-maintained. A small press box is on the fifty yard line across from the bleachers. Fifty yard line? Is that the right expression? Mid field markers perhaps? The press box is small enough for maybe four reporters. The press box is elevated only about four feet off the ground. It looks like a toy. I really need to get a press pass for this WCRX-LP assignment. So I can sit in the smallest press box I’ve ever seen.

The unusual feature of the Granville field is that there is no fence separating the field from the bleachers. The effect is to make the game very personal, the fans are close to the action. Shouts of encouragement don’t have to work their way through a chain link to reach an athlete.

As the night progresses, we learn that the absence of any barrier restraining the fans doesn’t improve the calls of the referees. You would think that the absence of a fence would create a threat of imminent danger from the fans and would improve refereeing. But it didn’t.

The spectators for both teams share the same bleachers. The spectators are about equally divided between Granville and Bexley fans. The almost equal balance in part is because the Bexley junior varsity squad is sitting in the stands with the Bexley parents.

There are chain-link backstops behind both goals. A feature that make a lot of sense and isn’t widely used on soccer fields. Throughout the game I am surprised at how frequently the backstops prevent the soccer ball from leaving the stadium. This is particularly important on one end of the field that dips into a wooded declivity where soccer balls might easily disappear.

The game begins after the National Anthem. A recording by a choir, probably the Navy Chorus.

The sun has set in the west, but at the start of the game, the sky is pink and the clouds are purple. There is Autumn color in the trees. The air is moist and chilly. I wrap the blanket around my shoulders.

The first goal is scored nine minutes into the game. The point seems to relieve the tension among the Bexley fans. It confirms that Bexley can score against Granville. The second goal is thirteen minutes into the game. The third goal is with eight minutes to go in the first half. Some how I miss the fourth goal and then the fifth is scored in the second half.

At halftime, my wife tries the pizza offered at the concession stand. She says the sauce is sweet.

Rachel Crane is my stand out player. No. 10. She’s a sophomore and has a magnetic relationship with the soccer ball. Blue Aces slide off her. She gets through crowded moments without elbowing the opponents. Admirable sportsman.

In the final eight minutes, Granville puts in a new goalie who is loud and very verbal.

Her shouts of “I’ve got it. I’ve got it” fill the chilly night air.

In the last minute of the game, one of the Bexley j.v. girls jumps from her bleacher seat and shouts “Spider! That’s the largest spider I’ve ever seen.”

The stands rustle with movement as the j.v. girls scramble to flee the spider. Other girls spot some more spiders. The spiders are big. Enormous. Healthy spiders in Granville.

We’ve been sitting over a colony of giant spiders.

Then someone identifies the spiders as daddy-long legs and says they are harmless. The excitement dissipates into the chilly air.

We all miss the last minutes of the soccer game because of the spiders.. But the Bexley Lions have beat the Granville Blue Aces. Lionesses.

Final score is five to nothing.

As we are leaving the field the jovial ticket clerk informs us that the Bexley j.v. team has set a record at the Blue Aces field for eating the most pizza ever.

Contact us.
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Bexley Public Radio Foundation operating as
WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
2700 E. Main St., Suite 208
Columbus, OH 43209
Voice (614) 235 2929
Fax (614) 235 3008

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