Ball State soccer sits atop the MAC as they travel to Western Michigan
Ball State soccer will look to maintain its momentum and stay in first place in the Mid-American Conference as it travels to play Western Michigan. The Cardinals will be looking to stay unbeaten in the MAC and hope to extend their unbeaten streak to six games.
Ball State (5-5-2, 3-0-1 MAC) has found its stride at the right time. Ball State opened last weekend with a 3-1 victory against Ohio on Friday Sept. 29. The Cardinals followed up that performance with a 1-0 win against Kent State Oct. 1 in a physical battle for the top spot in the MAC.
Sophomore midfielder Julia Elvbo was a key factor in both of those wins. She scored two goals against Ohio, both courtesy of headers in the first three minutes of each half. Elvbo topped off her weekend by scoring the lone goal in the Kent State game when she saw a rebound opportunity at her foot and capitalized on it in the 35th minute of the game.
This week's schedule
at Western Michigan Thursday Oct. 5 (4 p.m.)
vs. Northern Illinois Sunday Oct. 8 (2 p.m.)
“[Julia Elvbo] was amazing this weekend, to score three goals this weekend is a tremendous feat,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “I’m really excited for her and she’s only a sophomore so we know we have a lot more to come out of her. She’s getting better and better."
Elvbo was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Week for women’s soccer and became the team’s leading scorer this season, lifting her total to four goals this year on just 15 shots and one assist.
Western Michigan (7-3-1, 2-1-1 MAC) comes into Thursday’s game with some versatility of its own. Eight different Broncos have scored at least one goal this season. Western Michigan is an attacking team, making this matchup another test for Ball State’s back line.
“They’re very technical and they’re patient enough to wait for scoring options so we’ll have to be patient defensively and make sure we’re calculating when to step, and make sure we have the coverage to deny any shots they may have,” Roberts said. “We have solid goalkeepers so they shouldn’t be much of a threat if we’re able to keep them at a distance.”
Western Michigan ranks fourth in the MAC in shots per game with 15.5, and got off 24 shots against Toledo Sunday, although none of them found the back of the net in the 0-0 draw.
Ball State has been a dangerous passing team when it gains momentum and finds openings. The Cardinals are tied for second in the MAC with 17 assists. Twelve different players have been credited with at least one assist this season. Senior midfielder Allison Abbe leads the way with three of those 17.
“I think we’ll be adjusting tactics slightly to make sure we emphasize our strengths,” Roberts said. “Overall, we know what we can do well and what we’re good at and that’s what we’ll be focusing on when building and enhancing our performance.”
Ball State has consistently defended well throughout its unbeaten streak. The team has limited opponents to 9.8 shots per game and have recorded three shutouts this season.
After Ball State travels to Western Michigan Oct. 6, they will return home to Briner Sports Complex to host Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. Oct. 8.
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