Ball State Soccer’s defense plays pivotal role in its destiny in the MAC tournament
After its eighth straight win, the Ball State Soccer (13-3-2, MAC 8-2-1) looks to continue its playoff run heading into the semifinals of the MAC Tournament.
The Cardinals won their quarterfinal matchup 2-1 in an overtime thriller and will traveling to Bowling Green, Ohio to face Western Michigan (14-6, MAC 7-4).
To have the ability to achieve an eight game win streak takes a commanding backline. Look no further than the Cardinals defense this season. During the streak, the Cardinals have conceded just five goals and senior goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville averages a .816 save percentage. Another threat from the Cardinals is their secure center backs. Senior defender Taylor Poole has proved to be a pivotal force for the Cardinals.
“We have a lot of moving parts which is something that I think is exciting,” Poole said. “Knowing that we have different starters week to week.”
Freshman defender Emily Simmons, Poole’s counterpart, has started all 18 games for the Cardinals and has been a big reason for the team’s strength in the backfield.
“Playing with Simmons in the middle has been great this year,” Poole said. “We have really worked on our chemistry.”
Poole and Simmons have started 13 times together this season, winning eight of them and drawing two. Of those eight games, the pair has conceded just four goals and only have conceded two goals in their last three starts together.
“Having that friendship on and off the field I think makes us dangerous,” Poole said. “I love playing with her in the center of the field.”
The Cardinals are currently third in the MAC for goals allowed with 15 this season. Head coach Craig Roberts has a theme of an organized defense as the Cardinals have led in the goals against category three out of the five past seasons in the MAC.
“One of the things that has paid off for us this season is that we are deep,” Roberts said. “Everybody has their understanding of what they need to do.”
The last time the Cadianls faced the Broncos, the team shut out WMU, 3-0, with goals from senior midfielder Paulo Guerrero, junior forward Peighton Cook and senior forward Amanda Shaw. Freshman forward Tatiana Mason leads the Cardinals with six goals this season, while senior midfielder Paulo Guerrero leads the team in assists with four.
The Broncos have won four of their last five games, and will be a threat going forward as they have scored 37 goals this year, nine more than the Cardinals. Leading the way will be a variety of goal scorers, as five of the Bronco’s players have scored five goals.
If the Cardinals were to win, they would play the winner of No. 1 seed Bowling Green, or No. 4 seed Ohio. This is back to back semi-final appearances for the Cardinals and they will be trying to break their 2015 win streak record under Roberts to earn a opportunity in the championship game on Sunday.
The Cardinals will face off against the Broncos on Friday at 4 p.m.