Members of the Ball State soccer team comfort each other after losing the first game in the Mid-American Conference tournament against Northern Illinois Sunday at the Briner Sports Complex. The Cardinals lost 4-3 in penalty kicks after tying 1-1 in overtime. Terence K. Lightning Jr. // DN
Cardinals eliminated from MAC Tournament in shootout
Freshman defender Yela Zisweiler stepped up to the ball with Ball State soccer trailing Northern Illinois 4-3 in penalty kicks. Overtime ended with a 1-1 tie, forcing the shootout.
Zisweiler needed to score to keep the game going. She ran up to the ball, launching it to the lower right corner of the goal, but Huskies goalkeeper MacKenzie Lee was ready for it. She dove to her left to block the kick.
The Mid-American Conference regular season champions were eliminated in the first round — again.
BSU - Sam Kambol (1)
NIU - Taylor Sarver (1)
NIU - Natalie Yass (1)
NIU - Mackenzie Lee (6)
BSU - Sam Kambol (4)
BSU - Peighton Cook (4)
"I think the team will really mature from this," head coach Craig Roberts said. "Sometimes you have to learn from experience and we will take this experience and move forward. We know that we have to take the opportunities in a game, and convert those in a game like this."
The first 90 minutes ended in a 1-1 tie. Ball State freshman forward Sam Kambol scored in the 37th minute, creating her own chance after stealing the ball deep in Northern Illinois territory. The Huskies' lone goal in regulation was scored by sophomore forward Taylor Sarver in the 57th minute of play.
The Cardinals had chances but failed to capitalize. They outshot the Huskies 17-5, including a 5-2 advantage in overtime.
"The opportunities were there — we created, we broke them down, we got behind them, we even got the shot count," Roberts said. "We looked at the goal, we just didn’t convert. If you don’t convert the opportunities you’re not going to win the game.”
The loss was eerily similar to last season's first-round loss to Akron. In both games, the Cardinals entered the game as the top seed in the MAC Tournament, only to lose in a shootout.
Still, Ball State was the top seed because it won the regular season title in both seasons.
"I'm very proud of the team, proud of the seniors," Roberts said. "It's just a matter of now trying to push forward."
Before the loss, the Cardinals were ranked 42nd in the NCAA RPI rankings. It's likely they fall in the next official rankings, but 64 teams make the NCAA Tournament, including 33 at-large teams. Ball State will learn its fate Oct. 31.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Ball State's season was officially over. Although the Mid-American Conference has only ever received one at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals are not officially eliminated until the bracket is drawn Monday.