Conor Hockett

Ball State's frustrations have centered around its offense all season long, but the team's statistical numbers are near the top of the Mid-American Conference.

The Cardinals sit fourth in the league with a 1.17 goals per game, but it is consistency the team has lacked.

In Friday's game against Eastern Michigan, Ball State will get to see what offensive efficiency really looks like.

The Eagles have scored five more goals than the Cardinals this season, despite taking 61 less shots.

"They're a competent team that has forwards who are converting," coach Craig Roberts said. "Within the MAC, there's a lot of parody going on. If you can get one or two goal scorers who are consistent, you're ahead of the game. That's one of the biggest differences with Eastern right now."

The two forwards mentioned by Roberts are both sophomores - Bianca Rossi and reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Week Angela Vultaggio. Both attackers are tied for fourth in the MAC with five goals on the season.

Eastern Michigan's ability to score the ball has propelled them to a 4-0 record in conference play. Miami is the only other team undefeated in league games.

Ball State players like freshman forward Kalynn Flanagan said the team is getting up for Eastern Michigan more than other games this season because of the opportunity to gain ground in the MAC West Division.

"You can tell the girls are really focused and ready to play this weekend," Flanagan said. "People are pushing each other more and they're louder. Everybody is more aggressive."

Aggressiveness is just part of the game plan against the Eagles. Roberts said his team must switch up tactics throughout the game create favorable matchups.

"Eastern isn't predictable," Roberts said. "They don't play just one track. We have to make sure we're doing the same thing and not just playing one style. I don't think the talent level on the field is better than what we've got. It's just about who is more consistent, and that's where we've broken down one or two times this season."

Eastern Michigan isn't a team that has broken down very often. Defense is also a strength for them, evidenced by the Eagles sweeping the conference's weekly awards. Freshman goalkeeper Jenna O'Dell took home the MAC Defensive Player of the Week award this week.

Despite Eastern Michigan's firepower on both sides of the ball, Roberts isn't going conservative to try and eke out a win. He said Ball State's 2-1-1 conference record doesn't necessarily show his team's potential.

"We really don't fear anyone we're playing against," Roberts said. "We look forward and are excited about the challenge. We feel we have a team that can compete against anyone in the MAC. If we're consistent and put our game together, then I think we have a shot against anyone we play against this season."
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