Ball State women's field hockey coach Jen Halliday said she hopes to continue the pace the team had last spring as the team opens its season this weekend against two Big Ten teams, both teams the Cardinals lost to last season.
The Cardinals' first game is in Bloomington against Indiana at 6 p.m. today. The team will then travel up to Ann Arbor to face defending national champion Michigan on Sunday.
Despite the difficulty the Cardinals face on their opening weekend, Halliday said she likes her team's chances against both opponents.
"Indiana is ten times better than they were when they beat us last year (by one goal)," Halliday said, "but we have more depth and experience than them. If we play solid and control the pace of the game, we can win."
Even though the team lost to IU last season, Halliday said it dominated the Hoosiers. The Cardinals out-shot the Hoosiers by a significant margin, but didn't have the goals to show for it.
"We need to shoot around the (goal)keeper, not at her like we did last year, and rely on our experience," Halliday said.
Ball State will need more than experience to get a win on Sunday, when they face Michigan, who just lost to the U.S. field hockey team by one goal. Although the Wolverines are national champs, Halliday said they could be prime for an upset.
"This is the perfect time to play Michigan," Halliday said. "A team like that gains momentum throughout the season. A lot of times, if you play them early (in the season), they're not in full motion yet. So whether they're Goliath or not, they might have an Achilles'' heel."
Halliday said the team's biggest challenge against Michigan will be controlling their speed. She said if the Cardinals stick to their own pace and do not allow the Wolverines to control them, the have a chance.
Throughout the off-season, the team has worked on certain aspects that Halliday wants to see come through this weekend. Communication and decisiveness on the field are two main areas Halliday said she wants to see the team improve upon from last year.
Confidence is another area Halliday said the team needs to improve upon and has worked on since December.
"We have skilled players," Halliday said. "They just need 100 percent confidence in their skills. That will translate to confidence in their teammates.
"I'm confident we've covered every angle needed to be prepared to step onto the field."