SOCCER: Ball State reaches Mid-American Conference championship
Ball State’s soccer team is going to the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship for the first time in the program’s history after defeating second seed Miami University in penalty kicks.
Just a week after winning its first tournament game since 2007 — and third all-time — in come-from-behind fashion, Ball State won in once again, 4-2 in penalties.
Ball State and Miami played each other in the last regular season match of the year with the RedHawks edging the Cardinals 3-2.
“There were lessons learned from our previous match, and we corrected them,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “I thought it was a battle between two very good teams.”
Roberts said both teams generated opportunities, but neither side could convert. Ball State had three shots on goal and Miami had eight, but all were turned away, and after 110 scoreless minutes, the game went to a shootout.
Roberts said he had his penalty takers picked out three weeks ago, and when the time came, they all looked very confident stepping up to the line.
“We just told them to disregard what’d going on outside,” he said. “Just focus on placement and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Also giving Ball State confidence was senior goalkeeper Layne Schramm, who followed her eight saves and sixth shutout of the year with a tremendous save in the shootout.
Another Miami miss and finishes from Cailey Starck and Leah Mattingly gave Ball State an early and important 2-0 edge. Elaine Musleh missed her attempt, letting Miami climb within one. Nicole Pembleton alternated makes to bring the score to 3-2.
A player who had not stepped on the field to that point took Ball State’s last penalty. Lauren Hall, who had only logged 130 minutes in the season, came up to take Ball State’s biggest shot of the year.
“Lauren was called upon, and she came through,” Roberts said. “She is really an example of the selflessness of our team. Each of our players is capable and must be prepared at all times, and I’m really proud of the way Lauren stepped up to the plate.”
Ball State, who received just one vote to win the MAC in the preseason, will play at 1 p.m. Sunday for the championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Ball State will face Western Michigan University, the tournament’s No. 4 seed. The Cardinals dropped its regular season contest to the Broncos 1-2 on Oct. 13. This gives Ball State another chance to vindicate a regular season loss.