SOCCER: Freshmen key as Ball State soccer moves to 2-0
Despite losing nine seniors, 2013 looks more like a reloading year than a rebuilding one for the Ball State soccer team.
Fresh faces to the roster fueled Ball State to a decisive 3-0 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay, bringing the Cardinals to 2-0 on the season.
“Everybody thought we were going to be bad this year, and there were a lot of questions to how we’d react,” freshman goalkeeper Brooke Dennis said after recording a clean sheet in her first collegiate start. “But I think everyone has done a great job transitioning, and we play really well together.”
Senior goalkeeper Layne Schramm secured a 2-1 victory for Ball State on Friday against Northern Iowa, but head coach Craig Roberts gave Dennis the nod for Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Dennis saw action early with a simple collapse dive for one of her four saves. After a few pickups coming off her line, she looked sure handed.
“The first few shots are always the most important because they help you settle down,” Dennis said. “I felt more confident after I held the first few cleanly.”
Dennis’ confidence was key for her, as she was forced several times to come off her line and break up searching through balls from the Phoenix to keep the first half gridlocked.
As in the first game, the Cardinals could not muster many threats in the first half. The field looked congested, as both teams’ back lines held fast.
But halftime gave Ball State a jolt, like Friday’s match.
“We went into the half knowing it was a pretty balanced game,” Roberts said. “We looked to get a little more joy on the outsides and really start to stretch them.”
In the 61st minute, sophomore winger Kalynn Flanagan found some of that joy breaking down the left side. As she crossed the 18-yard box, Flanagan ignored cries from the stands to shoot and laid off a pass to freshman striker Kelsey Wendlandt, who tapped in her first collegiate goal from inside 10 yards.
After this goal, a rocket off the post Friday and a goal in Ball State’s exhibition match, Wendlandt has shown herself to be a spark of instant offense off the bench, and one of the newcomers that is making a positive impact.
“Coach [Roberts] always tells me to attack the goal,” she said. “I know when I come in, that’s my job: attack and finish.”
That goal prompted an offensive onslaught from Ball State. The Cardinals quadrupled their shots from the first half, and controlled the ball for a majority of the second half.
Junior defender Victoria Jacobs, one of two players to play all 180 minutes of Ball State’s two games, blasted another goal into the top shelf off a corner two minutes later. Sophomore Erin Greeley put in Ball State’s third and final goal off another attack generated from the wing.
“We’re really happy about how good the team is looking this year,” Dennis said. “We’re really excited.