Cardinals fall to 2 ranked teams over weekend

Field hockey loses to Central Michigan and Michigan State.

The field hockey team viewed Saturday and Sunday as the weekend for the field hockey team to emerge as one of the better teams in the Mid-American Conference, if not the nation.

The Cardinals were looking to avenge an early season loss to No. 20 Central Michigan and beat their highest ranked opponent of the year, No. 5 Michigan State.

Instead, the team was outscored 5-1, losing both games. The Cardinals dropped to 7-6 overall and 3-3, third place, in the MAC.

Heading into Central Michigan on Saturday, head coach Jen Halliday stressed that the team come out prepared and ready to play from the start.

Eleven minutes into the game, Ball State's junior midfielder Afton Hess scored an unassisted goal to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

The Chippewas scored near the end of the first half, then came out firing in the second. They outshot Ball State 5-1 in the second half and added another goal to win 2-1.

"As a whole, our defense didn't play as a solid unit," assistant coach Annette Payne said.

Against Central, the Cardinals had just two shots on goal to the Chippewas' six.

The team's shooting struggles continued on Sunday in its 3-0 loss to Michigan State. The Spartans outshot Ball State 21-10 and the Cardinals had zero shots on goal. Michigan State also held the advantage on penalty corners 10-1.

"We had a lot of unforced errors," Payne said. "Michigan State capitalized on those errors."

After a day of practice Monday, the team now has to travel to Columbus, Ohio today to play Ohio State (5-8, 1-3 in Big Ten).

The Buckeyes have one more day of rest than the Cardinals. They are coming off a 3-1 loss to No. 6 Penn State on Saturday.

Payne said Ball State should match up well with Ohio State, but in order to win, the Cardinals have to rebound from this weekend.

"We have to get past the weekend," Payne said. "You have to learn and move on. That's what makes you better."

Payne also said that a key to victory will be the team's shooting. It needs more shots than it had in its weekend losses.

"We have to attack more and shoot more," Payne said. "If we can play our passing, our offense and defense as a whole, we'll be fine."

Payne said today starts the beginning of an important week of games for the Cardinals. After Ohio State, they play Miami and Louisville at home Friday and Saturday.

"We have three big games coming up and we need to come out on top in all three," Payne said. "We have to take away (lessons) from the weekend that will help us."