KELLAN DEAM // DN FILE
SOCCER: Ball State to play Haitian team
The Daily News
After scouting a potential recruit in Haiti’s game vs. Australia in Indianapolis last September, Ball State soccer coach Craig Roberts got an even bigger commitment than he originally intended from the Caribbean nation.
While talking to coach Shek Borkowski about the player in question, Roberts threw out the possibility of an exhibition match between Ball State and Haiti.
Because of Borkowski’s coaching experience with FC Indiana, a women’s professional soccer team based out of Indianapolis, Roberts said the Polish-born manager knew about Briner Sports Complex and was comfortable with what the Cardinals had to offer.
The two teams agreed to match up and will play at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Muncie.
“I just think it’s a golden opportunity for us to bring soccer on an international level to the community and also expose our student athletes to perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Roberts said. “I think the fact that they see us as a reputable opponent really shows where we’ve come.”
Haiti is coming to Muncie after playing Mexico on Wednesday.
Roberts said there isn’t much film on Haiti this season outside of Wednesday’s game, but the respect is high for a team that has played against names like Hope Solo and Abby Wambach in the past.
“I think they’re going to be well organized and probably bigger, faster and stronger,” Roberts said. “But if you go against team that’s going to be more experienced, you can’t lose out. You’ve got to meet the challenge.”
While he admits he hasn’t seen the opponent much, Roberts said Haiti’s talent level is comparable to a higher-end Division I program.
Despite the physical advantages Haiti has, junior forward Nicole Pembleton said it would be a mistake for Ball State to change anything tactically to try and negate them.
“I think we’re just going to try and play our game because that’s the best chance we have at winning,” Pembelton said. “If we try and go to their level or play differently then I think that would affect us [negatively].”
Ball State has arguably played only two games against upper-level Division I teams, a home-and-home series with Illinois in 2010 and 2011, and lost both games by a combined eight goals.
Despite those results, Roberts said this game is an incredible opportunity for positive attention around his team and the university as a whole.
“When we get to showcase our facilities, it’s just a huge event,” Roberts said. “Soccer people around the state will come to this game.”
Saturday isn’t the only time other teams will play at Briner Sports Complex before the regular season.
The NCAA permits teams to play five tournament dates and Saturday’s game will serve as one of those for the Cardinals.
Ball State is undefeated (2-0-2) so far this spring and the Cardinals have two more tournament dates left against multiple teams on April 13 and 20.
Roberts said his spring games are typically played using 30 to 35-minute halves with unlimited substitutions to provide more teaching moments.
“If we were going for a win or score, we can switch to a shift I know we’d be successful, but that’s not the objective,” Roberts said. “The goal in the spring is to develop players into things we’re going to need when we get to championship games.”