SOCCER: Ball State starting goalie not decided for season opener

With the addition of senior transfer Danielle Rogers to the backfield, the Ball State soccer team's defense looks ready to dominate.

In their season opener against the Xavier Musketeers on Friday, the Cardinals defense stayed aggressive and controlled tempo all game en route to a 2-1 victory. Ball State never trailed, and its four defenders allowed only two shots on goal.

"We [the defense] like to keep the tempo relaxed but still upbeat when we are in the lead," sophomore midfielder Brigit Reder said. "We never back down, never stop attacking no matter the score in the game."

After Ball State forward Jacki Eft opened the scoring, Xavier's Lauren Heap tied the match in the 57th minute. Sophomore forward Paige Stroinski scored the game-winning goal in the 69th minute.

But it was Ball State's defense and Rogers who starred in the program's first season-opening win since 2007.

After surrendering 51 goals in 18 games last season, early signs point to Rogers as a big factor in the defense's potential improvement this season.

Before transferring to Ball State, Rogers played her first three collegiate seasons at Tennessee-Martin for current Ball State coach Craig Roberts.

"Danielle is very experienced and knows exactly what I'm looking for from her out there," Roberts said. "We have a lot of talent on defense, and she helps coordinate all the players out there."

With Ball State looking to have an up-tempo offense, Rogers brings another dimension to the table. Solidifying the defense allows the Cardinals forwards to push up the ball field and use their attacking skills.

Against certain systems, Roberts said, this will encourage more creativity and let the offense work more freely.

The Cardinals host Indiana State on Sunday with a showdown against Illinois of the Big Ten nine days away. As the competition gets tougher, Ball State will look to its stiff defense to stay consistent.

"As a forward, I have a ton of confidence in our defense and each practice we become better as a unit," sophomore forward Paige Stroinski said. "I have no doubt in my mind they can be solid against any team that we play."

Shifting their focus to Indiana State, Ball State looks to win its second match in a row before heading out on the road for nearly a month. The Cardinals will play six straight road matches before returning home against Western Michigan on Sept. 24.

Indiana State has yet to play a match this season, but lost both of its exhibition games earlier in August.

"We will go back and revisit the game and address the weaknesses we had," Roberts said. "We need to adjust a few small things for a smoother performance next time."



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