In a sport requiring 11 players to be on the field, Ball State field hockey muscled through the 2012 season with just 13 on the roster.

This season, the team will have 20 players.  

Junior Tarel Teach said the increased depth will make the game easier for everyone.

“As a team, it puts us in a really nice position,” she said. “It will probably relieve a lot of stress on the players because there were so few last year that everyone had to be perfect every time.”

The pressure was evident as the team ended the year with a 4-14 record. Ball State opened the season with an overtime victory, but fell short in its next five matches.

The Cardinals would go on to win just three of the eight matches played at home.

A 0-5 record in the Mid-American Conference kept the Cardinals from having any shot at postseason play.

Teach said Ball State’s added depth gives her high hopes for the future of the team.  

“I have really high expectations for this season,” she said. “Having the 10 freshmen and 10 returners, I think it’s going to be really good for us. We have a really strong core group, and it’s going to be good to see how we incorporate the new girls into that.”

There are challenges to adding so many new faces. Coach Beth Maddox will have a very short period of time prior to the season’s start to work in 10 players that have never worn a Cardinal uniform.

“We’ll try to figure who is going to mesh well with who, what formations are going to work with who we’re bringing in,” she said. “It’s just going to be a figuring out process.”

Some of the responsibility in aiding the freshmen’s transition will lie on the shoulders of the team’s veterans.  

Because only three juniors will take the field in 2013, it is vital that they work well with incoming players.

“As a junior in my class, I think it’s going to be really important for us to kind of work together and show the freshmen the right things to do and kind of help guide them,” Teach said. “They’re going to be playing a lot, so there’s not a lot of room for them to not do much.”

Maddox said if her team is to be successful in 2013, leadership will have to come from all of her experienced players, not just the upperclassmen.  

“Our junior class is definitely going to have to step up and take initiative,” Maddox said. “But honestly, all 10 returners are going to play a significant role for us.”