Through his first three seasons at Ball State, head coach Craig Roberts has established a system that predicates itself on passing and movement. 


Roberts wants his players to play the game “the right way.” That means relying on skill and precision more than physicality and athleticism. 


But in the first two matches of the season this weekend, against Northern Iowa and Wisconsin-Green Bay, Roberts said both of those attributes will be tested.


“Both teams are extremely well-coached and technically sound,” Roberts said. “But if we can match their physical play, we will be in good shape.”


Northern Iowa returns all four defenders and its goalkeeper that anchored an 8-9-2 team last season, and Wisconsin-Green Bay only graduated two integral players. 


Roberts stressed that a majority of the team’s preparation has been focused on what it does, not what its opponent does.


“Our main concerns are keeping our shape, and having our players be in a position to be successful,” Roberts said.


While Ball State returns its two top goal-scorers of the 2012 season in junior forwards Nicole Pembleton and Jasmine Moses, most of those players appear to be interchangeable. 


Until Friday, when Northern Iowa arrives in Muncie, the starting lineup and rotation for Ball State will remain undecided. After losing 10 seniors a year ago and adding 13 players (nine freshmen and four transfers), the new additions are still settling into a groove.


Even freshman Brooke Dennis is challenging senior Layne Schramm for the starting goalkeeper spot on opening day. 


The ambiguity does not seem to deter Roberts’ confidence for the season. Roberts said the shuffling has to do more with finding the right combination rather than a lack of talent.


“We’re really excited to see who steps up for us this season,” Roberts said. “There are a number of girls who could do it for us.”