Freshmen defender Leah Mattingly heads a ball during the game against Kent State University on Oct. 4. The end of the regular season brings the Cardinals into MAC tournament time, where the team will look for its first tournament victory since 2007. DN FILE PHOTO COREY OHLENKAMP
Playoffs loom for Ball State soccer
With just one conference game left the in the season, the shuffling atop the Mid-American Conference has started to shake out tournament seeds.
In a league full of parity, Ball State (10-5-3, 5-3-2 MAC) jockeyed with five other teams for a top-four finish and the first round home game that accompanies it for its first 10 MAC matches. A match with Miami University (9-6-3, 6-1-3 MAC) stands between Ball State and postseason play.
Despite entering conference play with the best overall record and leading the conference in a number of statistical categories the entire season, the best Ball State can finish is No. 5, which makes its match Thursday the last match the Briner Sports Complex will host in 2013. Ball State is 5-1-2 at home this season.
1. Western Michigan University: 23
2. Eastern Michigan University: 22
3. Miami University: 21
4. Central Michigan University: 21 (lost to Miami)
5. Kent State University: 18
6. Ball State: 17
7. Northern Illinois University: 14
8. Ohio University: 12
“It is disappointing not to be able to have the advantage of playing on our own turf and not having the Ball State fans supporting us,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “But the girls are mature and professional. Playing the road isn’t really a big deal for them — they’ve been doing it all year.”
The Cardinals have gone 1-2-2 in the MAC after starting 4-1, but Roberts still maintains the same confidence the team has strutted all season.
“At this point in the season, you have everything on the table, fine tuning,” he said. “Some individuals might not be scoring as much as they were earlier, but [with us] competing how we have in those losses makes me think we are where we need to be. We just have to capitalize.”
All three of Ball State’s conference losses have been to teams in contention for the top four of the conference and have all been a loss by one goal — one even went to double overtime.
The MAC standings are based on a point system, three points for a win and one point for a draw.
If the season ended today, Ball State would travel to Miami for its first round game looking for its first MAC championship since 2007, and Western Michigan University would host the semifinals and finals.