Victoria Westrich

When Ball State University's field hockey team opens its season Aug. 27 at Longwood, first-year coach Beth Maddox said she hopes her team will display a mentally tough attitude.

Until then, Maddox said she expects the team to work hard and improve every day in practice. Junior Devanny Kuhn said the Cardinals are trying to transfer that work ethic into a successful season.

"The team goal this year is just to work hard, be able to score and be defensively tough," Kuhn said. "We had a really good spring season, and I am hoping that carries on and we just continue to work hard as a team."

Practice started Aug. 12, and the team will participate in two-a-days until school starts. The home opener is Sept. 3 against Robert Morris.

Senior Maura Sawicki said she can't wait until two-a-days end and games begin.

"I am looking forward to a new beginning with new coaches and making a name for Ball State field hockey, just going out and playing," said Sawicki, one of six seniors. "I think we are ready."

The Cardinals haven't finished .500 in the Mid-American Conference since 2006 and have three conference wins in the past two seasons. They finished 2009 with a 4-15 record (2-8 MAC) and lost the first game of the MAC Tournament 3-1 to Central Michigan.

Despite the program's struggles, Sawicki isn't setting her sights any lower than a MAC championship this season.

"I'd say our team goal for this year is just to make a name for Ball State and to win the MAC," she said.

Maddox said fans should expect her team to attack, defend and win together this season.

Kuhn said she hopes to see fans support the program and fill the stands during games.

"I want the fans to come out and fill out stands and just to support the team, because when there is that support from the fans, it definitely gets us pumped up," she said.

Maddox has stressed the word "fight" in practice, she said, because her players must fight every day to improve. Maddox said she believes her team can achieve its lofty goals.

Senior Morgan Cloutier said she wants to succeed this season so she can leave the underclassmen something to build upon.

"I want to see the team work hard and let the underclassmen know that senior year comes fast and to take nothing for granted," she said.

When Cloutier and her fellow seniors leave, Maddox said she wants them to have success on and off the field.

"We hope our seniors leave Ball State better people," she said. "We know they will do great things, and we are excited for them to go out with a bang."