After a 2-16 finish last season, tying the second-worst finish in program history, Ball State Field Hockey is working for a comeback season.
Head coach Stephanie Bernthal said recruitment is key to bouncing back as the team welcomes nine freshmen to the roster.
“As we were recruiting them, the big thing was seeing how they were as a fit for where we were going,” Bernthal said. “Every one of them chose Ball State because they wanted to be a part of us turning this team around.”
Along with the nine freshmen coming onto the roster, the team hasn't seen much change from last season as all but three seniors will be returning to the field. Bernthal said familiarity has developed into a strong team chemistry.
“When we came back last semester, we started intentionally doing things off the field and throughout our training to get this leadership group ready,” Bernthal said. “They got the whole group here two weeks before we had to report to train without it being mandated by me.”
A traditionally strong defense and an aggressive offense will also be key to the team's success this season. Bernthal said one of the team's goals was to prevent opponents from scoring as much. Last year, the Cardinals sufficed 75 goals.
“We want to concede less goals, we want to be more aggressive on offense since we have always been a really defensive team and put them together," Bernthal said. "In addition, we want to shoot for winning MAC. We want to be one of those first two seeds for the tournament, and we always want to be a .500 team or better."
While their first official match of the season isn't until Aug. 31, the team believes they're already seeing improvement from last season.
"We have a fitter team this year," Bernthal said. "They’ve grown in strength, they’ve grown in speed, they’re better athletes, they’re better hockey players and concepts were built."