Ball State’s soccer team won the quarterfinal match against Kent State for the Mid-American Conference Nov. 2. Junior midfielder Elaina Musleh admitted she struggled this season before the match, but she scored twice within the 15 minutes of the second half. DN FILE PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK
SOCCER: Cardinals tie career-high in wins for Roberts
The Ball State soccer team experienced its most winning season under head coach Craig Roberts, as it finished with 11 wins overall and six in the Mid-American Conference, the most in his tenure.
The Cardinals' 11 wins tied a career-high for Roberts, as the team equaled that mark in 2013, but the team also surpassed 2013's five MAC wins.
"We took what we did last year and just enhanced it," Roberts said. "The girls all really worked hard."
Ball State was able to improve in many facets of the game this season. Offensively, the Cardinals were successful and efficient in scoring.
The team scored the most goals (32) and had its highest average of goals per game (1.6) under Roberts. The Cardinals used a balanced attack as junior Elaina Musleh, and sophomores Gabby Veldman and Leah Mattingly all scored four goals.
Ball State was at the top of the MAC in total goals at the season's end.
"We didn't just work with our forwards on drills," Roberts said. "We took every player and worked on scoring situations, so I feel that played a key part in us being able to score."
Keeping opponents out of the net is just as important to winning, and the Ball State goalkeepers also improved.
Sophomore Brooke Dennis and freshman Alyssa Heintschel combined for 106 total saves this season, breaking last season’s mark of 105.
"Coming into the season the girls were very talented already," Roberts said. "They really worked hard and really performed well."
Their performance was aided through the hire of assistant coach Ante Cop, a former professional goalkeeper. Roberts said Cop focused his work on improving the goalkeepers' play as the season progressed.
The Cardinals will graduate six seniors that contributed to the team throughout the season. Maggie Cox, Victoria Jacobs, Lindsay Kempf, Jasmine Moses, Nicole Pembleton and Cailey Starck served as leaders and set the standard on the field.
"The girls really set the pillars for the team going into the future," Roberts said. "We are going to miss them dearly."
However, the Cardinals will look to benefit from a recruiting class that is expected to contribute right away.
"We have a great incoming class for next season, and they know the expectations and standards we have set for the team," Roberts said.
Postseason success has become part of the expectations for the Cardinals, as they have made it to the MAC Tournament semifinals in each of the last two seasons. The team lost in the title match in 2013.
Roberts and the rest of the team will look to build on recent success and carry it into next season.
"It's become a tradition we reach the semi-finals, and I think we have the potential to keep going there," Roberts said. "We just have to keep improving, and if we do we will the championship."