SOCCER: Team makes road trip to Colorado

The Daily News

Starting with the program’s best record since 2005 (4-1) does not satisfy Ball State head soccer coach Craig Roberts.

The team’s success this early in the season may make some complacent, but Roberts has no plans to coast through the last three games of the non-conference schedule.

“We need to make sure we’re improving each game,” Roberts said. “I don’t want us to stay stagnant and not move forward.”

Colorado College and Air Force are on the docket this weekend for Ball State, and pose learning curves for the Cardinals, starting with their geographic location.

“I think our biggest challenge this weekend will be the environmental conditions, not necessarily the opponent,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be a very good test for us to see how mature we are and how we deal with things.”

Both programs play on fields around 6,000 feet above sea level, compared to the Briner Sports Complex that sits at just below 1,000 feet. With only a few days to try and acclimatize, the dramatic change in elevation is sure to fatigue Ball State players faster and force them to use more time to recover.

The Cardinals have a slight advantage over most teams that travel to the Rocky Mountain state, being that they already utilize their bench in mass quantities. Sixteen players have participated in every game this season, and 22 have played in four of the five.

“I preach to the girls, it’s not about the starting 11, it’s about the consistency of the team,” Roberts said. “Everybody has to be able to produce the game plan.”

Each starting lineup for Ball State this year has been different. The trend looks to continue as Roberts said he will probably elect to start some of the more seasoned players in an effort to let his youth-laden team settle into the new surroundings.

Before this weekend, the farthest Ball State had traveled to play a game was the hour and a half trip up I-69 to take on IPFW. The Cardinals will have to trek over 1,000 miles just to get to Colorado College on Friday, but Roberts thinks his team will be able adapt fairly quickly.

“All the girls have been traveling for years with their club teams,” Roberts said. “It’s one of the reasons they were recruited.”

Roberts said this trip will also help prepare the girls for their first conference game against Buffalo, about two weeks and 500 miles away.

“Everything we’re doing prior to conference play is in preparation for when conference time comes about,” Roberts said.

Once Ball State finally arrives it will have to deal with two solid, hardworking and physical teams.

Colorado College is 2-3 this season, but all of its losses were close games to quality opponents. The Tigers lost 1-2 in overtime to No. 20 Denver 1-2, 0-1 to Colorado that has four votes to be ranked and 1-3 to No. 25 Marquette.

While Air Force is only 1-3-1 for the year, the Falcons embody a blue-collar style of play, already racking up 47 fouls to Ball State’s 34.

“We’re more concerned with our tactics in these non-conference games, so that we can tweak our performances and our game and what we can do better,” Roberts said. “It’s about what we can do.”

Roberts said his keys for success this weekend are good game management from his players and coaching staff, converting opportunities and coming out of the gates strong.

“Even if we come out of the weekend with a loss, if we improve where we need to then we’re heading in the right direction, as far as I’m concerned for the preparation of conference play,” Roberts said. 


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