With the bulk of the season in the fall, Ball State Soccer takes time in the spring to stay loose and work on its game.
Every August, the Cardinals face off against Mid-American Conference rivals as well as national competitors in hopes of winning a title. In 2018, Ball State claimed a bid to play in the MAC championship game against top-seeded Bowling Green. Despite staying close the whole game, the Cardinals fell to the Falcons on the fifth shot in a penalty kick shootout.
With a large senior class leaving last season, it came down to a younger group of leaders to push the team through spring.
“This team is very unique and we are trying to find our new identity,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “This group of individuals is a lot more unified. We have to reevaluate everything.”
As there are only a few games being held in the spring, the Cardinals have plenty of time to find their rhythm and come together as a team. Roberts said that he is trying to build an entire team of leaders where anyone can step up big for the Cardinals.
“In years past we have kind of looked at captains and individual leadership, but we have been a bit more focused on leadership throughout,” Roberts said. “We are really focused on addressing the entirety of the team and everybody has to hold the responsibility of being a team of leaders.”
Before the fierce competition rolls around August to November, junior Sam Kambol said she makes sure to use this time in the spring to have a good time and to truly enjoy the sport.
“We always say that the spring is here to develop more, but I think it is also a time to remember why we play soccer,” Kambol said. “While we are making improvements, we have fun while doing it.”
Ball State kicked off the short spring schedule by playing Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 23. The Cardinals seized a victory by winning 2-0. In her first career start in goal for the Cardinals, freshman Alex Deruvo recorded a full-game shutout.
The first home match of the season happened Mar. 23 when Ball State took on Grace College at the Briner Sports Complex. Deruvo notched another shutout when the Cardinals won 4-0.
“[The spring schedule] gives people who don’t play in the fall a really good chance to show what they can do,” Deruvo said. “Everyone earns their spots and right now I am trying to work my butt off just so I can get as much exposure as possible.”
This winning streak was short-lived as Eastern Illinois blew out Ball State with a 4-0 final in Muncie. However, Ball State bounced back and delivered yet another shutout against Indiana State at home on Sunday. The Cardinals limited the Sycamores to only two shots on goal through 80 minutes of play. Ball State came out on top 6-0.
“We are very delighted with the results of today,” Roberts said. “It was imperative that we grow and we learn a lot. The amount of production that we got out of today’s game was great.”