After an 8-1 loss to open its season, the Ball State field hockey team was looking for answers.

Head coach Beth Maddox said improvement would require a collective belief in the team’s system. 

None believed that more than forward Lexi Kavanaugh. 

The freshman was a bright spot in Sunday’s match against James Madison as she scored Ball State’s only goal. 

Maddox said the team was unsure of itself in the one-sided contest.   

“We need to work smarter and if we do those things, the results will be much different,” Maddox said. “If we play scared and fight the system, we will lose.”

The Cardinals were outshot 32-8 in the loss. Kavanaugh and junior midfielder Tarel Teach led the Cardinals as they combined for four shots. 

Ball State bounced back Monday when it took on Appalachian State. As a team, the Cardinals put up 17 shots with 9 on goal against the Mountaineers. 

Kavanaugh alone managed six shots, and provided Ball State with a much needed offensive lift. 

“Lexi has made a huge impact on our team,” Maddox said. “She fights hard and really wants to score. Today was a team effort, and she was able to capitalize because of it.” 

Ball State went on to win Monday’s match 2-0. Junior Tori Widrick scored in the ninth minute to give the Cardinals an early advantage. 

Appalachian State earned 10 penalty corners and put up 21 shots, but never capitalized on offense.  

After making 14 saves on Sunday, sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Henley earned 11 more to hold the Mountaineers scoreless. 

The Cardinals accomplished a defensive shutout just once in 2012 by way of a 3-0 victory over Bellarmine in the season finale.  

Kavanaugh added Ball State’s second goal in the 58th minute. Sophomore Bethany Han assisted on a scoring shot to the right side of the goal.   

The step up for Kavanaugh and the Cardinals against Appalachian State led to a 1-1 record. Maddox said it won’t be the team’s last, though. 

“We will work really hard this week,” she said. “Our plan is to continue to improve and move forward.”