SOCCER: Field dimensions could play role against Kent State
Smaller size doesn't allow Ball State to play pass-heavy style
Ball State coach Craig Roberts has said he doesn't change his game plan based on an opponent, but surface conditions are another matter.
In Ball State's opening game against Marshall, the two teams played at a local high school field whose surface wasn't up to the standard of the Cardinals' turf field.
The week prior, Roberts took to the team out to recreational fields around campus to prepare and get used to unkempt grass again.
Friday's game at Kent State won't be played on a high school field, although it might look like one.
"Their field dimensions aren't legal dimensions," Roberts said. "It was kind of grandfathered in before the stipulation by the NCAA about field regulations. We are going to play on a field we haven't experienced this season. We have a few days to prepare and mimic the surface they have and also Kent State's style of play."
Roberts said where most college fields are about 110 to 120 yards long by 75 to 80 yards wide, the Golden Flashes' field is about 108 by 65.
That doesn't leave much space for the Cardinals to play the normal pass-heavy style.
"It's very hard to play a possession game on their field because it's such tight quarters," Roberts said. "We'll have to make sure we are good in the air because the ball spends a lot of time up there at Kent."
The game at Marshall ended in a 3-1 loss, but it wasn't because of unfamiliarity with the field. Roberts said his team was pushed around, something that hasn't happened since.
With that problem fixed, Roberts said the team is working on a specific style for Kent State.
"We'll be sure we're focused in on our restarts," Roberts said. "I think we're a huge threat on those because we've got a lot of great headers of the ball."
Headers were a big part of the scoring punch for Ball State last season, but it hasn't panned out that way in 2012. With tall players like senior defenders Skylar Chew and Brigit Reder, converting on set pieces is something Roberts said he expects to come around very soon.
Roberts said Ohio is a much more possession-oriented team, so the transition from Friday to Sunday's game will have to be quick.
If Akron's Sunday game was any indication, the team is capable of adapting. Sophomore defender Pavla Benyrova said the team made changes in the game, and it paid off.
"On Friday, we kind of underestimated Buffalo at the beginning," Benyrova said. "We were kind of surprised that they weren't bad. On Sunday, I think we were better prepared and we respected the team more. We started a lot better than we did on Friday."
After last weekend's games, Ball State is one of four teams (three in the MAC West Division) to start 2-0 in conference play. Kent State and Ohio have a combined 1-2-1 record in MAC games, so two wins could put Ball State in a great position.
"We're starting to be more consistent with scoring in each game," Roberts said. "If we can make sure our performances keep improving, I think we'll be in good shape."