Senior forward Nicole Pembleton runs after the ball during the soccer game against Morehead State on Aug. 31 at the Briner Sports Complex. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
SOCCER: Team prepares for conference play
This weekend marks the beginning of Mid-American Conference games for the Ball State soccer team.
It’s been a long road to get to this point for the Cardinals. Countless practices and eight non-conference games have all served as preparation for the team to improve its game for MAC play.
“The girls and I are really anxious and ready to begin this part of the season,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “The competition has been strong already this season and have helped us be prepared to face the tough schedule coming up.”
The Cardinals have fought hard to enter this part of the season with a 4-1-2 record, giving them the third-best record in the MAC standings, behind Miami (6-1) and Western Michigan (6-2).
Ball State has also performed well statistically, ranking near the top in many areas, compared to the rest of the MAC. They currently place in the top three in goals, goals per game, goals allowed and goals against average.
Records and statistics to this point show how far the team has come, but the real season starts now.
“The team is ready, we have been playing really good lately, and we just want to go out there and play and win,” senior Jasmine Moses said.
Last year, the Cardinals went 5-4-2 through the conference matches, ranking them sixth overall and seeding them sixth in the MAC Championship Tournament.
Ball State upset Central Michigan, the third seed, in the first round with a 2-1 victory. The team continued its path as an underdog when it defeated the No. 2 seed Miami in penalty kicks to advance to the team’s first MAC Championship game in school history.
The unlikely tournament path ended there, as Ball State went on to lose to the No. 4 seed Western Michigan 1-0 to finish in second.
“It wasn’t how the girls wanted to end last year, and this year they want to get back to that game,” Roberts said.
With 20 members of the team being returning letter-winners, there is a lot of experience and players who know how to play in games against tough competition.
“I’m very confident in my team and in what they can do this year,” Roberts said. “The girls think the same way and believe that they can get back to the championship game.”
Conference play begins Sept. 26 when Ball State hosts Bowling Green (1-6) at the Briner Sports Complex.