Josh Blessing

The 2009 field hockey season has been long for Ball State University, but with tournament time here, the Cardinals are hoping to use the past to learn from their mistakes.

It's time to make a run.

With their share of big losses, close losses and a few hard fought wins, the fifth-seeded Cardinals host this weekend's Mid-American Conference Tournament, beginning at 11 a.m. today against fourth-seeded Central Michigan University at the BSU Turf Field.

"They're ready to go," coach Annette Payne said. "It's a home game for us, it's a tournament the mentality that they have it good, they're ready for a chance."

The Cardinals finished the regular season with a 4-14 overall record and 2-8 in MAC play.

Payne said her team's performance last weekend was an indication of how much the Cardinals needed to refocus for the tournament. Ball State lost 3-0 on Saturday at Ohio University before being blown out 8-0 on Sunday at Kent State University.

"After this weekend, I've talked to the team about how they need to refocus," Payne said. "We've done a good job of working on that the past couple days during practice."

Payne said that she spoke to her team about not just creating a fresh start, but looking back and learning from where they've come from throughout the season.

"It's definitely postseason time and I think that's important," Payne said. "But, it's also important that you learn from the season. We've gained a lot of things from looking back on our mistakes. There is going to be pressure, that's the reality of it, we need to just stay alive. It's important to learn from the season and the experiences that come along with it."

Flow, tempo, sticking to the game plan — those are the things that Payne has preached to her team throughout the season.

That game plan has not changed for tonight's game against the Chippewas (7-12, 4-6 MAC).

"I still think flow is important — continuing that flow for 70 minutes is hard," Payne said. "Maintaining tempo continues to be important, but most importantly is to stick with the game plan and keep with the mindset; we've established that and now we need to go out and get it."

Ball State is hosting the MAC Tournament for the first time since the 2004 season. Miami University plays Missouri State University at 1:30 p.m. today, while Ohio plays the winner of the Ball State/Central Michigan matchup at noon Friday and Kent State plays the winner of the Miami/Missouri State game at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

In action
Who: No. 5 Ball State vs. No. 4 Central Michigan
What: Field Hockey MAC Tournament First Round
When: 11 a.m.
Where: BSU Turf Field
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2009 MAC Field Hockey Tournament
Today: No. 5 Ball State vs. No. 4 Central Michigan, 11 a.m.; No. 3 Miami vs. No. 6 Missouri State 1:30 p.m.
Friday: No. 2 Ohio vs. Ball State/Central Michigan winner, noon; No. 1 Kent State vs. Miami/Missouri State winner, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday: Championship, 1 p.m.