Underdog Ball State takes on Kent State in MAC Tournament
Ball State field hockey (8-10, 3-3 MAC) is relishing its opportunity as the underdog in this year’s Mid-American Conference Tournament.
“We have nothing to lose,” head coach Christy Longacre said. “I hope the girls realize that. We’re the underdogs, like we’ve been all season. But if the girls play as well as they can, they can beat anybody.”’
MAC Tournament Bracket:
No. 1 Kent State vs. No. 4 Ball State 11:30 a.m. Nov. 5
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Longwood 2:00 p.m. Nov. 5
The Cardinals haven’t made the MAC tournament since 2011, before anyone on the current roster enrolled at Ball State. Senior forward Lexi Kavanaugh said it’s great to finally make it to the tournament, and being the fourth seed will have its advantages.
“It’s such a huge relief to finally be here,” she said. “It definitely helps not having the pressure of being first, we don’t have a lot of pressure on us. We just want to go out and kill it and see how far we can go. We definitely don’t want to end it here.”
The Cardinals will have their hands full with Kent State (12-6, 6-0 MAC), their first round opponent and the regular season conference champion.
Kent State led the MAC in goals scored (22), shots (125), and assists (19) during conference play. They also had the best goals against average (1.62) in the MAC overall.
Ball State will also have to deal with Kent State’s attacking duo of Allison Harmatz and Jessica Nesbitt who led the MAC in goals and assists, respectively, during conference play.
The Cardinals lost 3-1 in their last matchup with the Golden Flashes. In that game, Harmatz scored a goal and Nesbitt added an assist.
“We can’t allow their forwards to receive easily,” Longacre said. “That’s what hurt us last time. We can’t give them too much room on the ball.”
Another advantage for Kent State is that the tournament will held on their home field, though Ball State opened its season with 11 straight games away from Muncie.
Kavanaugh said being on the road isn’t the tough part, but navigating on Kent State’s rippling, old turf is the challenge.
“Their turf is a lot different than ours and they know it better,” she said. “The trickiest thing about playing them the first time was trying to figure out their turf, but having played at their field we understand what we’re up against.”
Ball State's tournament game will begin 11:30 a.m. Nov. 4 in Kent, Ohio.
The winner of this game will face the winner of No. 2 Miami (11-7, 5-1 MAC) against No. 3 Longwood (9-8, 3-3 MAC) in the MAC Championship game Nov. 5.