SOCCER: Win brightens Ball State's outlook on weekend

Cardinals continue road trip at Western Kentucky

Coming off a double-overtime win against Southeast Missouri State last weekend, the Ball State soccer team has renewed optimism for its season and its matchup with Western Kentucky on Friday.

The Cardinals are riding the momentum of Sunday's win into this weekend, hoping to duplicate the results they had earlier in the season.

"Last year people knew what it was like to lose, so after those two losses [we] started putting our heads down," sophomore defender Skylar Chew said. "The last win has really got us going again."

With only two matches left on the six-game road trip, putting together a few wins before Mid-American Conference play starts in two weeks could make a huge difference.

Western Kentucky is 1-2-1 heading into the match, but its record is deceiving. Losses to Tennessee and Minnesota overshadow a recent 4-0 victory against Evansville.

The match sets up to be a physical, defensive battle as two superior backlines match up. The Hilltoppers have given up only five goals this season while the Cardinals back four has been strong all year.

Putting up a consistent scoring output has been a game-to-game adjustment for Ball State. After scoring six goals in three games to start the season, the team was shutout in consecutive matches. Friday is a good opportunity for the Cardinals to build on their three-goal performance from last week.

"We have worked on tweaking our positioning in practice to keep the shape of our defenders and midfielders," Chew said. "We have also been working on getting our forwards good shots at a closer range. Our energy is good throughout the game, so finishing is the key."

Those players finishing plays in key situations have not necessarily been starters. Throughout this road trip, the Cardinals have relied heavily on the bench to step up and contribute.

"Players coming off the bench have been the game changers, not the starting eleven," coach Craig Roberts said. "Female collegiate soccer is about strategically maintaining your performance. If you can get fresh legs off the bench after 25 minutes, it is a huge advantage. Staying fresh can win you the game over better performers any day."