SOCCER: Team gears up for final non-conference match

The Daily News

Before each of Ball State’s seven games, head coach Craig Roberts has stressed that win or loss, what is important is getting ready for conference play.

Though that will remain true for the last match of the Cardinals non-conference schedule, Roberts couldn’t help but sound eager to travel to IUPUI.

“We’ve been looking forward to this game,” Roberts said. “We haven’t forgotten the result of last year and how disappointed we were.”

IUPUI came into the Briner Sports Complex last season and handed Ball State a 1-0 defeat in a match in the Cardinals outshot the Jaguars 17-6.

While Ball State hopes for a different result, it will use different integral parts. Nine of the Cardinals’ 11 starters are no longer on the roster, and a large number of key rotational players this season did not see action in the match last year.

One of those players is junior Cailey Starck, who is apart of the backline for Ball State that has started each game together and logged a conference leading four shutouts.

“We have a lot of trust in each other,” the right back said. “We really trust each other, and we know we are always going to cover each other because we keep talking as much as we can.”

IUPUI touts mediocre offensive numbers, with six goals in seven games, but that doesn’t mean much to the MAC’s second best scoring defense.

“[The game] last year is still fresh in our minds,” Roberts said. “We need to maintain our playing standards.”

Outside of the four defenders, only two other Cardinals have started each game. And that level of parity extends to Ball State’s attack, going up a sound defensive team that has only surrendered five goals this season.

“We’re going to throw a variety of attacks at them and hopefully break them down and let us get in behind them,” Roberts said.

Ball State has utilized a number of different offensive tactics already this season, including bringing an outside defender into the attacking third of the field.

Starck is third on the team in shots with 10, and her counter part, left back freshman Leah Mattingly has six.

IUPUI will not only have to deal with copious number of attacking strategies Roberts will employ, but also the numerous personnel options Roberts has at his disposal.

Seven different Cardinals have scored this season, and 19 of the 24 players with field time have taken a shot.

Exploiting its depth has been a central tenet for Ball State’s successes this year, and is one of the keys for it to tidy up right before conference play.

“We have good depth on our bench,” Starck said. “We just have to make sure we are using it and adapting to who is on the field.”

After thinking about avenging a loss to a rival or preparing for conference play, Roberts said above all else, it is just another match.

“IUPUI is a well coached team that is going to give 100 percent effort,” he said. “It’s just our job to try to break them down and get on the end of things.”


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