Its trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., proved to be a reality check for Coach Beth Maddox and her young team.

The positives were rare, while the weaknesses stood out like a sore thumb.

Ball State (0-6) dropped a pair of games versus a duo of nationally ranked opponents.

Nonetheless, the Cardinals proved they "can compete against the best," according to Maddox.

"We worked hard and the team really fought together," Maddox said. "Unfortunately, our inexperience hurt us. But we did get better and that's our focus."

Ball State squared off with No. 14 Boston and No. 13 Michigan.

In the first dual, the Terriers controlled every aspect of the game from the faceoff.

While outshooting the Cardinals, the Terriers cruised to an 8-0 victory.

In its second go-around against the Wolverines, Ball State didn't show much improvement from its previous outing.

Like the Terriers, the Wolverines coasted to a 5-0 shutout over the Cardinals, further dampening their spirits.

In the two games it competed in, Ball State was outshot a combined 57-to-1. In addition, the Cardinals handed their opponents a total of 26 corner kicks. The stat didn't fair well for Ball State, as it didn't record a single corner kick in either game.

After the Cardinals' second loss, Maddox acknowledged the strong play from both opponents.

"Boston and Michigan did a tremendous job," Maddox said. "It was tough to penetrate their defense. We are still working on our system, but I know we are making progress."

With two more losses tagged to its record, Ball State looks to use this weekend's experience this week when Mid-American Conference play begins.

"We are playing top teams to help us prepare for the MAC," Maddox said. "We competed with great teams and our confidence is growing. We will be ready for this week."

The Cardinals will play the first of three at the Ball State Turf Field, starting with a showdown versus Miami (OH) Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m