The Ball State soccer team has made defense its priority, and it has put the Cardinals in position to compete for a top seed in the Mid-American Conference tournament.

At the halfway point of MAC play, Ball State currently sits at 3-3 in the conference.

Ball State defeated Kent State 1-0 on Sunday, shutting out an opponent for the sixth time this season. 

“The girls had been competing against some of the tough competition lately and come up just short,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “Today, they played physical, stuck to the game plan and looked like champions out there."

The shutout went to freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Heintschel, who made her first collegiate start.

“We decided to give Alyssa the start, and she really played tremendously, as she has all season,” Roberts said.

Heintschel and sophomore Brooke Dennis, Ball State's regular goalkeeper, have been the anchors at the back end of the Cardinals' defense.

Dennis and Heintschel have combined for 71 saves on the year, a save percentage of .855. The pair has lifted Ball State into the top three in save percentage in the MAC.

Dennis said at the beginning of the season, one of her goals was to post shutouts in half of Ball State's matches. So far, she is on track, with just under half of the games being shutouts.

The shutouts aren’t occurring just at home either. The Cardinals have four shutouts at Briner Sports Complex, but the most recent performance was on the road. 

The defense has been able to stand tall no matter what kind of environment it is put into, as it also shut out Green Bay on the road on Aug. 24 and Delaware at a neutral site on Sept. 12.

If the defense remains tough, Ball State could have the chance to return to MAC championship game. 

Ball State reached the MAC championship match last season with a strong defense and a goalkeeper in Layne Schramm, who was ranked ranked in the top 50 in the nation. 

Though last year’s performance does put a lot of pressure on the defense to help Ball State return to the championship game, the Cardinals have performed well and look to improve as conference play continues.

Upcoming Matches

Date: Opponent: Location: Time:
10/17 Western Michigan Muncie, IN 4:00 p.m.
10/19 Northern Illinois Muncie, IN 2:00 p.m.
10/24 Buffalo Buffalo, NY 5:00 p.m.
10/26 Akron Akron, OH 12:00 p.m.
10/30 Miami Muncie, IN 3:00 p.m.