Ball State soccer MAC tournament preview
Ball State soccer will go into the Mid-American Conference tournament ranked as the No. 1 seed. The Cardinals finished with a 14-3-2 overall record, finishing with a 10-1 conference record.
Behind head coach Craig Roberts, the team has dominated opponents all season long. They have scored 35 goals between 11 different players, all while giving up only 13 goals in 19 games.
Coming into the tournament, Ball State is the favorite but not by much. The MAC has had a tight race from the beginning of the season; here is how the Cardinals should match up throughout the next week.
Quarterfinals – Nov. 1 vs. No. 8 Akron at 1 p.m.
Akron barely made it into the conference tournament, tying for fourth place in the East Division along with Bowling Green and Ohio who all shared a 3-8 conference record. Akron has not had the best season up to this point, with the 6-12-1 overall record explaining their eight seed.
Ball State only beat Akron 1-0 this season, but during the game Ball State 11 shots on goal. Akron didn’t even take a shot.
This first round surely favors the Cardinals, and if they win, they will have secured home field advantage for the remainder of the tournament.
Semifinals – Nov. 6 vs. No. 4 Kent State/No. 5 Miami (Ohio) TBA
If the Cardinals move past the low-ranked Akron Zips, they will either face off against Kent State (11-6-2) or Miami (10-7-1), both of which are better opponents, finishing second and third in the MAC East Division, respectively.
While Kent State comes into the first round as the favorite, moving past Miami will serve to be difficult. The Red-Hawks knocked off the Golden Eagles 1-0 earlier this season, so this match will be interesting.
Head-to-head, Ball State has beaten both of these teams, beating Kent State 3-0 at Briner Sports Complex. They knocked off Miami 1-0 on the road, a game which secured the Cardinals the MAC Regular Season championship.
Championship – Nov. 8 vs. Game 6 Winner TBA
It is impossible to predict the other half of the tournament's bracket, but the favorites are No. 2 Western Michigan (11-3-4) and No. 3 Buffalo (11-6-2).
Both of these teams have sent Ball State into overtime. The Cardinals were able to overcome the game against Buffalo in a 1-0 victory for their last home game of the season. Ball State has only lost one conference match all season, and that was during a 1-2 double-overtime loss on the road against Western Michigan. If the Cardinals and Broncos face off against one another, it will be a different atmosphere, since the Cardinals will be at home.
Ball State has the best record going into this tournament and, being the highest-ranked seed, it will have home field advantage throughout the tournament if it wins its first-round match.
Throughout the history of Cardinal soccer, the team has yet to walk away with a MAC tournament championship, but this year may prove to be different. Between the dominant performance during the season, their undefeated regular season home record and single conference loss, the Cardinals will look to walk away with an automatic National Collegiate Athletic Association bid, which comes with the championship.