SOCCER: Draw a let down for Ball State after 1-0 win over Eastern Michigan
For coach Craig Roberts, winning means more now that Ball State is among the Mid-American Conference's elite teams.
Ball State's 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Eastern Michigan on Friday brought new expectations of success, which was evident Sunday when Ball State's 0-0 tie against Western Michigan drew what one could call healthy negativity from the team.
"We talked [after the game] about how we've turned the corner now, and it's just not acceptable for us to tie games," Roberts said. "We kind of walk away disappointed. When I originally took over, we were happy to tie a MAC game. We're now focused on getting the results, and anything less than a win is kind of unacceptable for us now."
The Cardinals quickly showed it was the better team Sunday, putting up 14 shots to the Broncos two in the first half.
Ball State's best chance came when freshman forward Morgan Whitfield passed by all the defenders on a breakaway counter attack, but the goalie tipped her chip attempt out of bounds.
"Those 1-on-1 chances are the one's we have to finish," Roberts said. "We're creating opportunities, but our forwards are not coming through."
After the early shooting barrage, both teams cooled off for the remainder of the game. Ball State finished with 20 shots, but senior defender Brigit Reder said openings in the Western Michigan defense were missed.
"The biggest thing was finding the outsides, and we didn't," Reder said. "We kept turning inside and going down the middle. There were good attacks, a few good set pieces, but at the end of the of the day, their defense held us to a shutout."
While it was Western Michigan's fourth shutout in MAC play, Ball State has been equally as impressive on defense lately.
Sunday was the Cardinals second consecutive game without surrendering a goal, while opposing teams combined for only 13 shots in that span.
"In practice we've been working on stepping out and not letting the forwards turn - just giving them absolutely nothing," Reder said. "Our defensive presence has gone through the midfield and forward line as well. We've been keeping it solid and locked down."
One thing Ball State hasn't sustained is its consistency. The team controlled most of Sunday's game, but the tie suspends the Cardinals (3-1-2 MAC, 6-4-4 overall) in third place in the MAC West Division standings.
"It was frustrating, but I don't question where we're going to go from here," Reder said. "For the most part, we were consistent this weekend. We just need to stay that way the rest of MAC play."
While the team left the field a bit confused on how Sunday's game got away from them, Roberts said the lack of closure isn't necessarily bad.
"The program has moved to a point where people expect you to win when it used to be just, 'Can you compete?'" Roberts said. "We're OK with that, and we've evolved ourselves into a very competitive program with everyone learning that championship mentality. There are still numerous games to go, so we'll see how it all unfolds."