After dropping its last contest 5-0 to non-conference opponent Ohio State, the Ball State field hockey team begins a three-game road trip starting this afternoon in Athens, Ohio.

A rough couple of outings have left a bitter taste in the Cardinals' mouths. They have been working to improve during practice this week.

"We have really focused on playing hard and supporting each other," coach Beth Maddox said. "We need to fight for every ball and compete."

The Cardinals (1-8, 1-1) are anxious to resume Mid-American Conference play with a pair of contests starting at 1 p.m.

"We are excited to play Ohio and Kent [State]," Maddox said. "They are both good teams and we know if we play well we can come home with two wins."

This afternoon's game won't come easy for the Cardinals. The Bobcats (8-2, 1-0) are arguably the best team in the MAC and are the only team with a record above .500.

Offensively, the Bobcats average over three goals and 16 shots per game, contrary to allowing less than one goal and six shots per game. The production is scattered throughout the roster. Four players have tallied six or more goals, while 10 have recorded at least one score this season. In addition, six players have notched 11 or more points, while five have produced 15 or more shots. The considerable margin leaves the Cardinals with little room for error.

When it comes to stopping opposing offenses, the Bobcats thrive behind senior goalkeeper Jen McGill, who owns a .710 save percentage. Furthermore, McGill has allowed just nine goals on the season, an average of 1.16 scores per game. McGill has also recorded three shutouts.

Maddox acknowledged what her team is up against, but the second-year coach is planning to use an aggressive offensive strategy.

"We plan on executing our system this weekend," Maddox said. "We will use the outside space and attack them with our speed."

Following this afternoon's contest, the Cardinals will travel to Kent, OH, for another afternoon game in as many days.

Kent State (3-7, 1-0) represents an easier opponent for the Cardinals. Nonetheless, Maddox and the Cardinals aren't taking the defending MAC champion Golden Flashes for granted.

"Kent has some extremely skilled players and they will test our defensive abilities," Maddox said.

While they're averaging over 13 shots per game, the Golden Flashes have been outshot a combined 164 to 132 on the season.

While it's not likely the Cardinals will sweep the pair of weekend games, Maddox is very confident in her teams' ability to defy the odds.

"As long as we compete and play together, I have no doubt that we can come away with two wins," Maddox said. "Both teams are talented, but as long as we stay focused, we will be competitive."