Cardinals earn home field for tournament

Soccer victories clinch two MAC tourney home games.

After winning two road matches over the weekend, the women's soccer team clinched a first-round home game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament beginning Nov. 5.

The Cardinals defeated Western Michigan 3-1 Friday afternoon, and beat Northern Illinois 1-0 Sunday to secure the teams first-ever tournament home game. The two wins improved the team's overall record to 12-4 and 8-3 in the MAC.

In Friday's match, sophomore Dee Nocero scored in the fourth minute to give Ball State the early lead. She scored again later in the first half off a punt pass from goalkeeper Megan Swafford.

Western Michigan was able to cut the lead in half in the 56th minute, but Ball State was able to hold on as senior Ehren Reagor scored in the 86th minute to seal it.

"This was an important match for us," head coach Ron Rainey said. "We knew we had to get results in our final three matches to host the first round game. Even though Western Michigan dominated in the second half, we were able to get the job done early and set the tone."

In Sunday's match against Northern Illinois, the game went scoreless until the 75th minute when sophomore Kate Nadalin scored what was to be the game-winner.

Nocero and Nadalin are now tied for the team lead in goals with eight for the season.

"I was proud of the way we played against Northern Illinois," Rainey said. "They are a very difficult team to play, because they run a system that we really haven't seen all year. I thought our players did a really good job of stopping their opportunities, getting the shutout, and then finally converting on one of our chances."

Rainey also said although he is happy with the team accomplishing their goal of hosting a MAC tournament game, they have to keep playing hard through the rest of the regular season. The team plays host to Marshall Friday - the last MAC game of the season - and play their final two, Purdue and IPFW, on the road.

"We need to have a good week of practice and play well in the remaining games because you gain momentum from playing well," Rainey said. "One of the things that I am most proud of about this group is that they are beginning to understand that."