Western Michigan (5-11, 3-6 MAC) was able to score two goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to defeat Ball State (4-9-2, 2-5-2 MAC) 2-0.
“I don’t think it was an accurate box score,” head coach Josh Rife said. “I felt like we played well. I thought we were good, but, unfortunately, in critical moments, we haven’t been good enough. I’m never, never questioning the effort, the quality, of how we’re trying to play. I’m probably disappointed that most of it gets lost in the result, some of the things this group does.”
After 34 minutes of scoreless action, the Broncos broke the tie when fifth-year forward Bailey Korhorn dished the ball off to senior forward Morgan Otteson, who snuck the ball into the back of the net. Eight minutes later, Western Michigan doubled their score when junior forward Reagan Wisser found sophomore midfielder Jenna Blackburn for the goal.
“As a coach, it falls on me," Rife said. "I have to continue to look and figure out, ‘What are the things we need to be doing better?’ How can we, as a coaching staff, put our kids in better scenarios, create better environments for them to be more successful? What can we be doing differently to prepare them for different levels of success?’”
Ball State had the advantage over Western Michigan in both shots, 12-11, and shots on goal, 10-7, but none of their attempts yielded points. Broncos fifth-year goalkeeper Maggie Rogers saved all 10 of Ball State’s shots on goal. Cardinals senior goalkeeper Alex DeRuvo had five saves.
“We had lots of chances," senior midfielder Taitana Mason said. "Their goalkeeper [Maggie Rogers] came up big for them. Mason led all Ball State attackers with three shots on goal. When Western [Michigan] had its chances, they put it away. The goalkeeper played the game of her life. We weren’t kicking toward her, we were aiming toward the corners. She just kept getting her fingers on them, pushing them over the net, making big saves. We were trying to do our job, and put our best effort forward, but the goalkeeper just continued to come up big for them.”
Rife and his team now know that they are in an unfavorable situation. Ball State would have to win its final two games against Northern Illinois and Miami to have a shot at the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
“We got to take shots with the intent to score,” Rife said. “We feel snakebitten right now. We are taking shots, but I don’t know how much belief is in them sometimes. We’re making decisions and we’re taking shots, but are we hitting them confidently? There’s a big difference between a player who’s playing confident versus a player who’s playing reserved.”
Ball State will play its second-to-last game of the season on Sunday, Oct 24 against Northern Illinois at Briner Sports Complex for Senior Day. The match will start at 2 p.m.
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