Soccer: Ball State earns draw in final game of season
Cardinals receive fifth seed in MAC Tournament
Saying a team plays to the level of its competition generally has a negative connotation, but Ball State showed the positive side of that argument on Thursday.
Playing conference-unbeaten Miami on the road, Ball State did what no other opponent has done in the Mid-American Conference so far—they didn’t lose.
While the RedHawks did complete the first undefeated conference season in league history (10-0-1, 16-2-1 overall), the Cardinals (5-3-3, 8-6-5 overall ) at least made them earn it with a 1-1 draw after two overtimes.
“Miami is a very talented team, but I felt we definitely arrived to match what qualities they had,” coach Craig Roberts said. “We definitely sent a message and felt strong with our performance.”
Ball State’s only blemish on the score sheet came from a corner kick that midfielder Haley Walter headed into goal in the 11th minute.
Entering the game with a 1.7-goal winning margin, an early let down is usually where opposing teams let the RedHawks top scoring offense run wild.
“Miami is a force to be reckoned with, but defensively we adjusted our game plan and it worked effectively,” Roberts said. “The only time they could break us down was a restart.”
After the defensive lapse, Roberts said the mistake was corrected and the team held the RedHawks relatively in check. Miami finished with 20 shots to Ball State’s 11.
The Cardinals had to create all their offense with senior midfielder/forward Shaniece Thorpe sidelined with an injury.
Freshman forward Morgan Whitfield did her best Thorpe impression, beating a Miami defender down the left sideline with pace the Jamaican-native is known for when healthy.
After receiving a pass from senior midfielder Alyssa Ables, Whitfield took her defender one-on-one to the middle before turning back left and unleashing a shot that glanced off the goalkeeper’s hands and fell into the net.
Roberts said been working on shooting with Whitfield and trying to get her reps putting the ball on net. It certainly paid off.
Roberts said the team had one last chance at goal late in double overtime when sophomore forward Nicole Pembleton tried a shot from distance.
“Nicole struck the ball from about 25 yards out and really tested the keeper,” Roberts said. “She had to do everything she possibly could to get the save.”
After Kent State beat Ohio 3-0 on Thursday, Ball State was eliminated from a chance to host a first round game in the MAC Tournament, but did receive the 5th seed. The Cardinals play the 4th-seeded Golden Flashes on Sunday.
Miami already had the No. 1 seed in the tournament locked up before play began Thursday. Even with the records not meaning much, Roberts said the positive result gave his team some much needed momentum heading into tournament play.
“They (the Cardinals) just showed, on an individual level, they can battle with the best of them,” Roberts said. “Although it was a tight game, I felt the girls gave a great representation of how far the program has come.”