If there every was a must-win situation, the women's soccer team is beginning to face it. With only three more Mid-American Conference games left, the team is looking to make the conference tournament, the team is not to the "must-win point" yet, according to head coach Ron Rainey.
"We feel we need to win two of three to make it into the tournament," Rainey said. "Miami is the benchmark of the conference, and will be for years to come. We've just got to close out the season."
However, the Cardinals (9-5-1 overall, 3-5-1 MAC) are facing one problem: the two teams they face this weekend -- Miami and Central Michigan -- are the top two teams in the MAC. Miami is No. 2 at 7-2 and Central is No. 1 at 8-2.
In last weekend's 3-2 double overtime upset by Northern Illinois -- second to last in the MAC at 3-7 -- the Huskies dominated the game. But poor passing allowed them to make up a 2-1 deficit and pull out the overtime victory.
Rainey said the team will not be able to make those same mistakes against Miami or Central Michigan this weekend.
"Sure, the other team did some good stuff to us," Rainey said of last weekend's game. "But we've got to work at scoring when we have the opportunity and stopping the other school when they get those chances."
Six of the Cardinals' last 10 games have gone into overtime, but they have only been able to pull out one victory. All but one of the Cardinals' five losses have come in those overtime games, and according to junior midfielder Ehren Reagor, playing all those extra minutes is begin to wear on the team.
"Playing 120 minutes is getting kind of old," Reagor said after the loss to Northern Illinois. "(The team) gets pretty worn out doing this game after game."
Rainey said the team can not force games in order to avoid overtimes.
"It's just not soccer to play to get games over with," Rainey said. "You have to take your options when you get them and capitalize on those opportunities."
Capitalizing on opportunities is a problem Rainey said the team has been facing, especially in last weekend's losses. And against the top two teams in the conference, the Cardinals will not have it any easier.
Miami enters Friday's contest with the most prolific scoring attack in the MAC, having scored 26 league goals, compared to Ball State's 12.
It has been the Cardinals' defense and midfield ball control that has led to their success. But, Miami also has the second fewest goals allowed in MAC play, a point Rainey is concerned with.
"(Miami) is going to come at us with four good attackers," Rainey said. "We have to make sure when they have the ball at their feet we're playing good, heads-up defense. We can't allow their personality players to take over the game. We have to play with a lot of confidence."