Mat McKinney

Shelby Henley and Maddi Elliott are two totally different people.

Henley is from the small town of Novi, Mich., where the population is 55,583. Elliott is from Louisville, Ky., where five times more people live.

Elliott is, as she described herself, rambunctious. Henley is calm.

Despite their differences, they are both freshmen goalkeepers for the Ball State field hockey team. Neither is the "starter." Instead, they split the playing time by switching out at halftime.

Some games Henley will start, then Elliott will come in to relieve her at halftime. Other games, Elliott will start, then make way for Henley. But each is always given a half to contribute.

So far in the 2012 season, the results of the dual-goalkeeper system have been mixed.

Henley started Saturday against Missouri State, giving up one goal in 35 minutes. In the second half, Elliott gave up three goals to the Bears. The Cardinals lost 4-2.

Elliott arguably had her best game Sunday for Ball State against St. Louis. She started the game for the Cardinals, and didn't allow a goal for the game's first 35 minutes. Henley replaced her at halftime, and gave up three goals in 18 minutes in Ball State's 3-2 loss.

Coach Beth Maddox said switching goalkeepers is a positive for her team.

"They just bring very different styles, so it's just a win-win for us no matter who's in the goal for us," Maddox said.

Elliott said her energetic personality helps organize the defense when it needs to be, and Henley's milder personality helps calm down the rest of the team to focus.

"It's easy for the players to realize when to calm down and when to be more aggressive on the field," Elliott said.

She said she sometimes gets going and doesn't want to make way for Henley to replace her, but knows that it's what is best for the team.

Elliott didn't know that she'd be splitting games coming into the season until Henley was added to the team "last minute."

"It wasn't something I was expecting until she got recruited," Elliot said. "I knew that if there were two goalies, we would be splitting time, but originally there weren't two goalies."

Henley, on the other hand, was expecting to get very little playing time in her freshman year, let alone starting some games.

Maddox said she doesn't have a normal goalkeeper "schedule."

"It just so happens that both our goalkeepers are freshmen," Maddox said. "They both work really hard and have different styles. So, it's just an opportunity to have them both gain valuable experience."

Maddox doesn't see that dynamic changing anytime soon.

"If they both keep working as hard as they are and keep improving, then I don't see why we wouldn't want to split them up," Maddox said. "I like to reward them both with playing time."

Henley and Elliott have two completely different personalities and are constantly competing for the same role on the team, but remain friends off the field.

"We always have support for each other, on and off the field," Henley said. "We always know if somebody's having a bad day, and we know what to say to get their spirit up."