Ball State field hockey found itself on defense quite a lot at the Miami Invitational this weekend.
After starting the season 2-0 with wins over St. Louis and Ohio, the Cardinals were out-shot 32-8 in a pair of 2-1 losses to No. 16 Boston University and UMass-Lowell in Oxford, Ohio.
"We were on the back-foot for the entire game on Saturday," Ball State head coach Christy Longacre said. "We were so defensive minded, so we talked [that night about] being on the front-foot and attacking them, scoring and getting scoring opportunities and getting corners [on Sunday]. That's what we were really going for."
Freshman goalkeeper Grace Chavez was the bright spot on Ball State's back line. She made four saves in Saturday's loss to Boston and was credited with six, but really made around ten, against the River Hawks.
"I just scream my head off the whole time [the other team is attacking]. I think [communication] is one of the most important factors on the field, just communicating with everybody because you just have to be all-in in that aspect or you're going to break down completely."
Chavez has made an impact in her first four NCAA-level games, as she's only allowed four goals and has made 15 saves.
"I think [my transition to college play] has been pretty OK," Chavez said. "I could have played better but considering we won two games last weekend and we played a top 20 team this weekend and we kept them to two goals, I think that was pretty good."
The Cardinals also surrendered over two dozen penalty corners to their opponents in Oxford. Ball State survived mostly unscathed by the opposing team's chances on the corners, but it showed that teams were getting several chances to find the net against the Cardinals.
"Communication from the back [is key], telling my defense where girls are that they need to be marking up on," Chavez said.
This weekend, Ball State will stay on the road with a pair of games in Pennsylvania against LaSalle and Lehigh. The Explorers come in at 2-1 on the season with wins over LIU-Brooklyn and Lehigh and a 3-1 loss to Appalachian State.
"We definitely have to start working together as a team because this weekend we couldn't do that well," Chavez said. "But last weekend was really great, so I just don't really know [what happened in Oxford]."
LaSalle out-shot LIU-Brooklyn and Appalachian State in those three games, giving up 17 shots and 11 penalty corners to Lehigh.
"[In close games] we need to just keep possession of the ball and play our game," Longacre said. "Keeping the ball outside, especially when we have a 1-0 lead there's no reason to be forcing it into the middle. Just keeping [the ball] on our stick and in our attacking 50 so we don't really have to worry about them scoring."
Lehigh is 1-3 on the season, with its lone win also coming against LIU-Brooklyn. Lehigh was badly beaten in 4-0 loss to Ohio State, only getting in one shot as the Buckeyes tallied 27. The Mountain Hawks are 1-2 in games where they out-shoot their opponents.
"We just need to show up, both games [next weekend]," Longacre said. "We didn't show up in the first half enough [this weekend], and I was a little disappointed on that. Attacking early and scoring early, I think that's what we did really well last weekend and I think we were comfortable and confident when we did that."
The Cardinals take the turf again on at 1 p.m. Friday against LaSalle and play Lehigh at noon Sunday.