Ball State field hockey is ready to prove itself in MAC play
It will only take one win for Ball State field hockey (5-7, 0-1 MAC) to finish with a better Mid-American Conference record than it did last season.
The Cardinals finished the 2015 season 0-6 in the MAC (2-16 overall), and first-year head coach Christy Longacre has been looking forward to the team's first conference win since Oct. 11, 2014.
“That’s been our main focus,” she said. “Every game leading up to our MAC games has been about improving.”
BSU MAC Schedule:
October 9 vs Longwood
October 13 vs Ohio
October 21 at Missouri State
October 23 vs Miami
October 28 at Central Michigan
1. Kent State 3-0
2. Miami 2-0
3. Ohio 1-0
4. Ball State 0-1
5. Missouri State 0-1
6. Longwood 0-1
7. Central Michigan 0-3
Ball State is in the upper half of the conference in most defensive categories this season. The defense ranks third in the MAC in goals against average, goals allowed per game and saves per game. The Cardinals are also second in total saves.
Through 12 games, the Cardinals have been outshot 198-77, a 121-shot difference. Longacre said her team needs to convert more on its limited chances.
"We need to be getting something every time we get into the attacking 25,” Longacre said.
Ball State is in the bottom half of the MAC in most offensive categories, coming in second to last in scoring average, shots and goals scored per game. With only 6.41 shots per game, senior forward Lexi Kavanaugh said it's frustrating that less than half of the Cardinals' shots (49.4 percent) have been on goal.
“You just replay it over and over in your head,” she said. “You think ‘I could’ve done this or that.'”
After dropping their first game of the conference season to defending champion, Kent State (7-5; 3-0 MAC), the Cardinals turn their attention to Longwood (6-5; 0-1 MAC) — a team they’ve never beaten in MAC play.
“They’re dangerous,” Longacre said. “They have dangerous forwards, and they play together for the full 70 minutes.”
Longwood’s leading scorers, junior forward Edel Nyland and sophomore forward Leonie Verstraete, are both in the top five for goals, assists and shots in the MAC.
Sophomore midfielder Anya Eicher said she wants to show the rest of the conference that Ball State is no pushover.
“We’ve got something to prove to all of them,” she said. “We’re not the same team as last year. We know we can come back from tough losses, and we know we can bring it to some really good teams.”
With three teams in the top 50 of the NCAA RPI rankings, the Cardinals will face some tough opposition in the MAC. But freshman midfielder Hillary Scott said the team is ready for the challenge.
“It’s tough but we know what we need to work on,” she said. “We want to work hard for each other and prove to each other and everyone else that we can do it."