Conor Hockett

Since Craig Roberts took over as coach before the 2010 season, the Ball State soccer team has emerged as one of the top teams in Indiana.

In the past two seasons, Ball State played Indiana State twice, IPFW and IUPUI, finishing with a combined 4-0 record.

Despite its in-state rivalry success, Ball State hasn't played any team from Indiana in the big six conferences since 2009, a 6-1 loss at Purdue.

Roberts said those bigger schools, including IU and Notre Dame, would give Ball State housing and financial compensation, but that isn't enough to warrant a trip this season.

"Probably by next season, we'll try and move in that direction," Roberts said. "Right now, with the trip to Hawaii, that's more taxing on the budget. We'd have to come up with the travel costs and other things [on our own]."

For now, Ball State will focus on continuing its dominance against the rest of Indiana. The team plays IUPUI on Friday, IPFW on Sunday and Butler in its first game back from Hawaii on Sept. 16.
Sophomore defender/midfielder Victoria Jacobs is from Ontario but said she can tell her teammates play these games with an extra sense of pride. It's the same sort of edge Jacobs was looking for when she decided to play in the U.S.

"The soccer is completely different," Jacobs said. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to come down here: the soccer is taken way more serious. I think the girls do get extra hyped for these games because it's more competition to show we're the better school."

All three rivalry matches are being played at Briner Sports Complex. It's an advantage Roberts said gives the Cardinals a great chance to build on the 2-1 record.

"We're very comfortable in our home setting now on this excellent field that we've got," Roberts said. "I think it always helps to have that settling into school. The girls deal with a lot of time management things. When you keep them close to home, they have less to worry about. That does help [to start the season strong]."

After finishing as co-champions of the Ball State Tournament last weekend, Roberts said his team is starting to find its goal-scoring form.

The Cardinals tallied four goals in two matches, but Roberts said he thinks the team can do better. He wants the team to make quicker decisions around the box when they have the ball.

"We want to step up our speed in the attacking third," Roberts said. "I thought we possessed for good portions of the game [against Xavier], but not the entirety. We're already causing teams problems in the attacking third, but if we speed it up even more, we'll dominate in that area again."