Utica football victorious in its first game against Alfred, spectators gather on the lawn for the game


Photo from Sofia Westling

Nick McAdam, Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Breault, Assistant Sports Editor, Hannah Steyn, Assistant News Editor

In the Utica Pioneers first of a pair of contests in its shortened season, the team grabbed its first victory against Alfred University by a score of 30-17 with a small crowd of spectators gathered on the lawn across from the Todd & Jenn Hutton Sports and Recreation Center.

Utica scored two touchdowns before halftime capped off by a strong defensive performance and a safety recorded by defensive end John Stroughn in the fourth quarter. This will be the team’s only home game of the season with Utica traveling to Alfred on March 29.

With no spectators allowed to gather directly in the stadium, a portion of student viewers gathered on the lawn leading down to the football field, which is where the football team enters the field from.

One of those spectators, Sofia Westling, a senior exchange student from Finland, saw her first football game in person.

“The vibe was really fun, even though we couldn’t be right up close,” she said. “There were people cheering for their friends, there was good music and the weather was perfect. And even though there were a lot of people, everyone was socially distanced so I felt safe.”

Some spectators indicated that there were about 25-to-30 students gathered on the lawn to watch the game, while others estimated that 50 people in total watched the contest, all of whom were scattered across the lawn.

Utica College Senior Sophie Langdon was also among the spectators. In a normal setting, Langdon is a member of the Pioneers cheerleading team, which would be found on the sidelines of each home football game.

Langdon said the college should experiment with the idea of allowing spectators in the stands. She noted that the college has done its duty by keeping students safe with weekly testing, social distancing and mask enforcement. With these elements present, Langdon believes a certain number of fans shouldn’t be an issue for home sporting events.

“There were a lot more people than I expected,” she said. “Everybody was wearing a mask, too. If they set up social distancing guidelines within the stadium, I don’t see why students can’t come to spectate, especially since we’re getting tested weekly.”

Professional sports leagues such as the National Football League, a select number of teams of the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have all allowed fans to view a select number of games, including the Super Bowl, pending each spectator provides a negative test and follows each COVID-19 protocol.

The game serves as part of an ongoing initiative from the college and the athletic department to run every single collegiate sport at the same time. According to recently released information, there hasn’t been a positive case from athletics since a member of the men’s hockey team tested positive on March 6, which paused the team’s game against Elmira College after the second period.

Most spring sports including softball, baseball and lacrosse have or are about to begin play, with a wealth of winter sports including hockey, basketball, and track and field continuing respective seasonal play.