Conor Hockett

Fifth-year senior midfielder Sarah Orisich has withstood three coaching changes and three straight losing seasons in her career at Ball State.

With Orisich and the team's other eight seniors in mind, coach Craig Roberts said he planned this weekend's trip to Honolulufor the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Soccer Classic to show his appreciation for all they've done for the program.

"The seniors have gone through different coaches and stayed at Ball State," Roberts said. "They played through the hardships, and they needed to be rewarded with a special gift. We've had to work at getting the funds for it, but I think it's an opportunity of a lifetime to go there."

Outside of the beautiful weather and scenery, Roberts picked a tournament where, he said, the Cardinals will be an underdog to two teams who have played tough schedules.

Ball State plays Hawaii (4-1-1) at 7 p.m. (HST) on Friday and Detroit (2-3) at 7 p.m. (HST) on Saturday. Hawaiian Standard Time is six hours behind Eastern Standard Time, meaning the games start at 1 a.m. on Ball State's internal clocks.

Despite the different feel to this weekend's games, Roberts isn't letting any of the many distractions Hawaii offers to serve as an excuse for poor play.

"We may have certain time changes and the weather conditions may be different, but it shouldn't be phasing us," Roberts said. "We're not going there for a vacation, we're going there to win games. The girls all understand we're going there for business."

After Ball State's last game against IPFW Sunday, Roberts showed he was taking the trip seriously. Roberts, assistant coach Marcie Klebanow and the two team captains - senior defender Brigit Reder and Orisich - sat down after the game to trim down the roster to a 20-man traveling team.

All the seniors on the team made the 20-man roster, but Roberts said everyone else had to play well against IPFW to prove they should make the trip.

One of those players, sophomore forward Nicole Pembleton, assisted on the lone goal against the Mastodons to secure her spot to Hawaii.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Pembleton said the southernmost state she's visited is Indiana, so it will be a whole new experience.

After allowing herself a few smiles and excitement about the trip, she also backed up Roberts' serious feelings about the trip. Pembleton said the team's success still boils down to an all too familiar challenge.

"We just need to play as a team and finish our chances," Pembleton said. "As people have probably seen, that's our biggest problem. We have everything down pat, it's just putting the ball in the net is the hardest part for us right now. As long as we finish our chances, I think we'll be successful in both games."