“I didn’t think we played to our potential in the beginning,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “We have a very young team and I think they can take a very valuable lesson from this one. We’re looking for a rematch down the line.”

Ball State has learned this lesson many times: if the team does not score, it cannot win.

“You’ve got to take care of business when you’ve got an opportunity in front of goal, and we didn’t do that,” Roberts said.

All three of Ball State’s losses have been 1-0 defeats, and only once were the Cardinals outshot. Ball State outshot Kent State 15-11.

Kent State controlled the first half and dominated the scoring chances, outshooting Ball State 8-3. The onslaught in the first half saw the Cardinals look uncomfortable and make uncharacteristic mistakes.

“Kent State was definitely marking our two center midfielders from the beginning,” sophomore midfielder Madison Oyer said. “They were constantly aware of where Vic [Jacobs] and I were.”

Ball State’s midfield has routinely dissected defenses this season, but Kent State was able to congest the field and force many errant passes from an out-of-system offense that trickled out of play or into goalkeeper Stephanie Senn’s hands.

“Sometimes the younger girls aren’t ready for me or anyone to make a run forward and they have their head down or want to take it themselves, which is fine in some cases,” Oyer said. “But this team was just too quick and read it easily.”

Kent State’s goal in the 10th minute from its leading-scorer senior Jessaca Gironda was procured from a quick counter that was mounted after another failed Ball State attack.

Kent State’s backline took over Ball State’s normally assumed role of impervious defense. Bringing in the highest volume of shots in the Mid-American Conference, Ball State did not put a shot on goal until the 16th minute. Even Ball State’s 15 total shots are skewed high because of the frantic push forward near the end of the game.

In the late push by the Cardinals, they were finally able to generate success by spreading the ball to the wings and separating themselves from a physical Kent State team.

“They were pushing in the back when we tried to go through the air,” Oyer said. “It affected my game because I like to get some of those calls, especially in the final third.”

As seconds ticked away, Ball State pushed forward harder and created several anxious moments for Kent State, looking for yet another clutch goal — Ball State has two game-winning goals in double overtime on the season.

Oyer had Ball State’s best chance for an equalizer. The 5-feet, 5-inch Oyer went up for a cross from Maimee Morris with a Kent Sate defender draped on her and put the ball high.

“It’s early days in the MAC and everybody will drop some games or win some games,” Roberts said. “We’ve just to come out firing on Sunday.”