Despite rainy weather, head coach Josh Rife heard no complaints from his players, and their focus showed in the way they played. Ball State (2-1-1) defeated Northern Illinois (1-3) 2-0 in its second home victory of the season.
“The weather is what it is. Both teams have to play in it,” Rife said. “It never came up once with this group, which I’m proud of them for. The group said, 'Hey, let's worry about what we can control, and hopefully get a great result, and that's what they did today.'”
Senior midfielder Melissa Diceman scored on a penalty kick attempt to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead at the 21:31 mark in the first half. Not only was it the first successful penalty kick of the season for Ball State, but it was also the first career goal for Diceman.
Despite her achievement, Diceman did not let up. At the 58:39 mark in the second half, she scored again from the lower right side of the goal off an assist from junior defender Lexy Smith. This would be all the Cardinals needed in the scoring department for the day. Rife was ecstatic for Diceman on her career day.
“Melissa does a great job of following up a play and running through it,” Rife said. “I’m really happy for Melissa. I think she's had to overcome a fair amount of adversity in her college career with different injuries for her to be playing as well as she is right now, really happy for her.”
The Cardinals totaled 16 shots, while the Huskies only managed to produce one. Despite only scoring two goals, Rife was pleased with the offensive progression and the opportunities they created.
“Both goals, I really think they were a product of us creating a little bit of our luck,” Rife said. We're digging, focusing a little bit more each game, which puts us in a good spot.”
Ball State held Northern Illinois to zero shots on the goal in 90 minutes of play. Rife credits the aggression of senior defender Emily Simmons, junior defender Lexie Smith, senior defender/ midfielder Shelby Keane and the rest of the defensive unit for their showing.
“It's very cliche, but when you score goals and don't give up goals, you're going to win a lot of games,” Rife said. “The whole crew plays with a certain amount of toughness. They just lock in for all 90 minutes of the game. They have all had different moments to step in and really contribute in a big way.”
The Cardinals return to the field Sunday, March 21, on the road against Eastern Michigan (3-1). The match will begin at 1 p.m.