For the first time since dropping its Mid-American Conference opener Sept. 27, Ball State (11-4, 5-2 MAC) was shut out in a 1-0 loss to Toledo (5-10, 2-5 MAC) Friday. The game saw Ball State’s five-game MAC win streak come to a close and was the first road conference loss for the Cardinals since a 1-0 defeat at Kent State Sept. 28, 2018.
Outshooting the Rockets 7-2 in the second half, head coach Josh Rife said the Cardinals had plenty of momentum on offense but ultimately were not successful in finding the back of the net. Heading into Friday's game, the Rockets had been shut out in five of their last six contests.
“[Toledo] capitalized on their chance, which we weren’t able to do,” Rife said. “I thought we created enough, and we had enough possession. I think it’s a little unfortunate not to get at least one [goal], but credit to [the Rockets].”
While the Cardinals have seen plenty of success this season in MAC play, Rife said he hopes for improved starts in the first half going forward.
“One of our strengths is depth,” Rife said. “We have enough depth that we can just go and go, so I think we can build in games that way, but I think we’d like to start a little better in matches. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, which is good, but I’d like to see us have a little more composure.”
In the first half, the Rockets outshot the Cardinals, 7-1, but three saves from graduate student goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville kept the game scoreless through the first 45 minutes.
Early in the second half, Ball State saw a glimmer of hope with two shots from senior midfielder Peighton Cook before Rockets’ redshirt sophomore forward Anita Mancini gave Toledo a 1-0 lead. Mancini’s goal was all the Rockets ultimately needed, giving them their second win in MAC play.
Through their last five regular-season contests, the Cardinals have struggled against the Rockets, holding an 0-4-1 record. Ball State has not defeated Toledo since a 3-0 shutout at home Oct. 5, 2014.
Concluding their three-game road trip, the Cardinals will be back in action Sunday at Bowling Green in a rematch of the 2018 MAC Championship. The game will also end the Cardinals’ stretch of five road contests through six games. Rife said he has high expectations and is paying little attention to the game’s “rematch” aspect.
“We’ve been on the road a lot, but no one plays their entire season at home,” Rife said. “It’s always part [of the game]. I think that we have a great group of seniors and leadership. Yes, on paper [Sunday’s game] is a rematch, but the reality is these are two great teams.”