After a strong start to the season, the Ball State soccer team (10-2-2, 5-0-1 in MAC) only has five Mid-American Conference games left in the regular season.
The Cardinals play Bowling Green (7-7, 2-4 in MAC) and Toledo (6-7-1, 1-4-1 in MAC) this week. Both teams are in the bottom half of the MAC rankings.
For its first game against Bowling Green, the Cardinals will have to stop the Falcons' tri-force of attackers. Junior forward Skylar Fleak leads the team with six goals. She is followed by freshman defender Maureen Kennedy and redshirt sophomore midfielder Erica Hubert, each with four goals. The three account for 82 percent of the team's total goals (14 goals out of 17 goals).
Head coach Craig Roberts emphasized the importance of each player stepping up and doing their part to stop the Falcons' goal-scoring tandem.
“I think that individually at every position, we will have a lot more responsibilities," Roberts said. "Whether you’re a goalkeeper or a defender, it’s all what you do individually, taking care of your responsibilities. If each individual on the team does the job at hand, then everything should work in our favor.”
Roberts said he is still seeing the team improve day to day.
“Our focus will be on improving on what we did last week. Offense will come into play in respect to capitalizing on opportunities we’ve created. We’re working hard and getting better at [capitalizing on opportunities]," Roberts said. "We’re not peaking prior to the tournament, which is good. We’re in a good position, and we’re just constantly improving, which is what I want to have happen."
Toledo is a physical team. The Rockets rank first in the MAC in both fouls and yellow cards.
“They are a very strong team, so you can anticipate a strength component within that game," Roberts said. "But sometimes, teams do get cards and referees do look at those cards early on, and they keep a tight leash on them."
Toledo brings two talented players to the attacking side of the ball. Senior forward Kierston Johnson has six goals in 14 outings this season. Junior midfielder Isa Echeverri, a Colombian national team player, has three goals and one assist over her 12 starts this season.
“I think [Johnson] is a talented player; we will definitely need to keep a close eye on her. But also [Echeverri] has to feed her the ball," Roberts said, "so I think it will be a twofold component."
The team will host Bowling Green at 4 p.m. Oct. 14 and Toledo at 2 p.m. Oct. 16.