SOCCER: Ball State fights through weather, Eastern Michigan to get win
Morris' first career goal lifts Cardinals to 1-0 victory
With sloppy conditions causing every ball to skip, dip or bounce unexpectedly, it wouldn't take a special strike to get a goal in Friday's game.
Ball State junior midfielder Maimee Morris said players know to shoot in bunches on a wet surface, so the team peppered Eastern Michigan's goal with 18 shots throughout the game.
Breakaway misses and shots off the crossbar kept the Eagles in contention until a loose ball squirted to Morris just outside the box. She turned and took a left-footed shot that arched over a wall of defenders before slipping off the goalkeeper's fingers for a game-winner in the 72nd minute.
"I looked at the goal before hand, but I don't know if just before the shot I looked or not," Morris said. "But it's been a long time coming, that goal, so I'm very happy."
Morris didn't hide her excitement after her first career goal. She leaped off one foot into the air and pumped her first before joining teammates for hugs.
When the final whistle sounded on the 1-0 win, Morris raised her arms in victory before collapsing to her knees at midfield. It was a feeling of closure after dominating the entire game.
"Last year we played them away and it (the game) sucked," Morris said. "This year was all about getting that back and proving to ourselves that we are a better team. It was a very passionate game and I think we just came out to prove something."
All four players on defense had something to prove after coach Craig Roberts said he challenged them to match up with a talented Eastern Michigan offense before the game.
"They're competing against the top forward line in the (Mid-American Conference) right now in terms of goals," Roberts said. "We wanted to see how they matched up with that and they did a great job. I felt that's the best performance we've had overall so far this season."
The Eagles ended the game with five total shots after getting zero in the first half. Their only real chance to score came with under three minutes left off a header in the box. Senior goalkeeper corralled the shot for one of her two saves on the day and shut the door.
Now 3-1-1 in conference play (6-4-3 overall), Ball State gained ground in the MAC West Division with the win over 4-1 (7-4-1 overall) Eastern Michigan, and owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Throughout the week, the Cardinals said this was an important game for seeding purposes and knew the way to beat the Eagles was to be aggressive and pressure the ball.
Roberts said Eastern Michigan likes to play a possession-style game, but Ball State didn't allow it. The defense closed down seemingly every angle and passing angle quickly, while midfielders like Morris clogged up space along the sidelines.
"I think we came out and intimidated them from the start," Morris said. "We came out and pressured as a team. That's something we maybe haven't done in the past, but we worked well together today and it got us through."