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Field-Rootstown girls soccer rivalry highlights Friday Night Futbol

Field-Rootstown girls soccer rivalry highlights Friday Night Futbol


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


In the fall, Friday nights are reserved for high school football.

Except for the first Friday of the fall season, which is saved to spotlight high school soccer as part of Friday Night Futbol — a statewide opportunity for schools to open their seasons ahead of football that was initiated and remains supported by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

The highlighted event was the idea of former OHSAA Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass.

“We already had an event that we had been promoting for volleyball with ‘Volley for the Cure’ in October, so the idea was the create a showcase for soccer to endorse,” OHSAA Director of Media Relations Tim Stried said.

This year’s Portage County schedule includes:



Crestwood at Waterloo

Tallmadge at Streetsboro

Southeast at Ravenna

Kent Roosevelt at Hudson



Crestwood at Waterloo

Rootstown at Field

Tallmadge at Streetsboro

Southeast at Ravenna


All of the matchups have their own intrigue, but it is the Rootstown at Field girls soccer game that appears to carry the most crossover appeal.

Two historically talented programs.

Led by two coaches, Field’s Jason Schindler and Rootstown’s Jason Opritza, that are also great friends — and both are passionate about soccer and its impact on developing young leaders.

“J (Jason Opritza) and I have known each other for many years, dating back to when we both ran our respective youth-soccer clubs,” Schindler said. “We’re both avid Manchester United fans, and we both absolutely love the sport.”

They love competing against each other, too.

“Jason and I have been trying to jumpstart our rivalry since we both started as head coaches at the start of the same season two years ago,” Opritza said. “It’s a great matchup for us to start the season. As sort of a litmus test. It forces us to challenge ourselves to prove we can hang.”

In the previous two meetings, the Falcons have been victorious, defeating the Rovers 3-0 in 2022 and 8-2 in 2021.

Regardless of the outcomes, both Schindler and Opritza have made a commitment to remain on each other’s schedule as long as they are coaching.

“Win or lose, we will take away something positive from this match each year and use it to improve our team for the remainder of the season,” Opritza said.

Schindler holds the rivalry close to his heart, as well.

“J and I have talked about growing this derby and have committed to opening our seasons against each other for as long as we can,” said Schindler, who was Opritza’s daughter Natalie’s first goalkeeper coach when she was 8 years old.

“Jason still coaches her from the sidelines during futsal and when he sees us playing,” Opritza said.

Like all good rivalries, there are layers to the Rootstown-Field girls soccer matchups and on Friday, another one will be added.

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