SOCCER: Ball State returns to form at Navy Tournament
The Ball State soccer team entered the Navy Tournament looking to regain its momentum.
After starting the season with two consecutive wins, the Cardinals were 0-1-1 in the next two matches.
“There are a lot of things I’ve seen I like, but I’ve also seen a lot I’m not happy with and that we really need to work on,” head coach Craig Roberts said.
Due to its match on Sept. 5 against Valparaiso being canceled, Ball State had two weeks to prepare for the tournament.
“Each position worked on something different every day,” sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Dennis said. “We did things like running, footwork, positioning on the field and, of course, worked on many things as a team in scrimmages.”
In Ball State's first match of the tournament against Delaware, it appeared as if the extra practice was helping.
At least defensively.
Deep into the second half, the score remained locked at zero, with both sides unable to find a crack in its opponent's defense.
It wasn't until the match's 65th minute, when Ball State's Leah Mattingly scored off a penalty kick, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
Dennis continued her stellar play, recording her third shut-out in five games to begin the season.
"Teamwork was something I pushed a lot before the tournament and remaining together until the end." Roberts said.
Ball State's second opponent, Navy, presented an entirely different challenge,
Having already defeated a James Madison squad that was ranked in the Top 25 earlier in the year, the Midshipmen entered the tournament playing with confidence.
They remained tied at the half, when Roberts made the decision replace Dennis in goal with freshman Alyssa Heintschel. In her first collegiate appearance, Heintschel was impressive, saving five shots and not allowing a goal during the second half or either overtime period as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Roberts said Heintschel had been playing phenomenally in practice, and he wanted her to gain some experience before conference play began.
"[The entire team] played really well this weekend against competition that is a step up from previous games this year," Roberts said. "It had the same feeling of the MAC Tournament, and gave the girls a great preview of what that will be like and the level of competition we will play down the road."