Soccer looks to end regular season on a high note Thursday at Miami
Ball State soccer will look to find its offensive groove Thursday at Miami in the final regular season game of the season.
The Cardinals left Akron Sunday with a disappointing result, a scoreless draw, after they held a 20-7 shot advantage over the Zips but could not find the back of the net in 110 minutes of play.
“We have to be strong-minded in going to goal and finishing,” Roberts said. “There was a desire to score but not a commitment to score, and I think the mindset has to be changed a little bit. They have to drive and want to finish, whereas I think they drove to the goal and just shot, and they have to have the mentality to finish."
Kent State (12-5-1, 8-2-0 MAC)
Ball State (9-6-3, 7-1-2 MAC)
Bowling Green (11-5-1, 6-3-1 MAC)
Toledo (8-7-3, 5-3-2 MAC)
Buffalo (7-8-2, 5-4-1 MAC)
Northern Illinois (8-8-1, 5-5-0 MAC)
Had Ball State left with a victory, they would have regained first place in the overall Mid-American Conference standings. Instead, they’ll need some help.
Trailing Kent State by one point for the MAC lead, Ball State needs either a draw and a Kent State loss or a win and a Kent State draw or loss to capture first place and claim a third straight MAC regular season championship, an accomplishment that has never been done before.
The Cardinals have already become the first team to win three consecutive division championships in the MAC, now they’re trying to add to that list of accomplishments this season.
Miami comes into Thursday with just two wins on the season, sitting near the bottom of almost every statistical category in the MAC. They are last in goals per game (.53), assists per game (.47) and shutouts (1).
Although they’ve struggled this season, Roberts isn’t taking the Redhawks lightly.
“I don’t think Miami is going to be an easy team to compete against by any means, they’re experienced and it’s the last game of the season,” Roberts said. “We’re still expecting a strong challenge, but if we can get some goals and convert, it’ll definitely boost our confidence heading into the tournament.”
Ball State enters the game tied for second in the MAC in shutouts (7), second in goals against average (.91), fourth in assists per game (1.33) and tied for fourth in goals per game (1.28).
“It’s all about polishing our product, it’s about making sure what we do when we’re playing is consistent, accurate and precise,” Roberts said. “We never fault the girls on their effort or commitment, but they have to make sure they’re performing at the highest level now and converting opportunities. We have to have that at this time of the year.”
When the Cardinals have been able to find an offensive flow and finish their shots, they’ve been a balanced bunch. Ten different players have scored a goal this season, led by sophomores Julia Elvbo and Sam Kambol with four each.
“We need to clean up a little bit of our communication at times,” Roberts said. “Emphasis [in practice] is going to be on enhancing our finishing in the run of play, we have to able to convert the opportunities we’re creating.”
Allison Abbe has been the primary distributor for Ball State, leading the team with six assists on the year (T-2nd in MAC).
If senior goalkeeper Alyssa Heintschel is given the nod to start, she’ll look to break the record for most wins by a goalkeeper in school history.
Heintschel has already had an impressive season on and off the field, as she was named one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award for women’s soccer. The award is focused on student-athlete achievements. She maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA as a chemistry, pre-med major.
To top off the recognition received by the Ball State players, sophomore Yela Ziswiler was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week for her performance in the 2-1 victory at Buffalo Thursday. She scored both goals in that game, the second being a game-winning header in the 79th minute which sealed Ball State’s third straight MAC West Division championship.
Thursday’s regular season finale will have a 3 p.m. kickoff. Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s game, Ball State will return to Briner Sports Complex to host the first round of the MAC Tournament Sunday at 1 p.m.
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