Ball State played 90 minutes of all-around dominant team soccer today, leading them past Buffalo 5-0.
With this win, the Cardinals advance to 6-5-2 on the season, with their Mid-American Conference (MAC) record improving to 4-0-2. With Western Michigan's tie earlier today, they now sit at No. 2 in the conference.
This match marked the first time Ball State and Buffalo have met since the Cardinals fell to the Bulls last year in the MAC championship.
Head coach Josh Rife said today that the prior loss and the feeling it caused have not been forgotten by the team.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it [the win] felt good,” Rife said, “They’re still a fantastic team and they’re still currently defending champs… It was our day today, a really good performance [from] start to finish.”
The Cardinals scored three of their five goals in the first half. Two of these scores came from senior forward Avery Fenchel, her seventh and eighth on the season.
“I think just going back there [Buffalo] for some revenge, there was a lot of emotion put into this game,” Fenchel said. “Just getting the win today was extra special in that sense and also because of the performance we put together.”
Fenchel’s offensive success was matched by junior forward Lexi Fraley, who also scored two goals in the match, and by sophomore forward Emily Roper, who scored one goal herself.
“Everyone’s lifting each other up and we’ve had everyone be able to contribute,” said Fenchel, “I think just the depth of our team is really good for our success in the long run.”
The Cardinals’ offensive attack was too much for the Bulls defensively, but Buffalo's offensive efforts could not come to fruition either due to Ball State's defense.
Junior goalkeeper Bethany Moser tied her career and season high in saves with nine during today's shutout. This is her fifth shutout match in which she played all 90 minutes.
“Today was kind of a revenge game,” Moser said, “Just because it was Buffalo made it even sweeter. It was nice to get the shutout, but even better to bury them.”
Rife is immensely proud of Moser and her play this season.
“Your expectation for your keeper is to make the routine saves and a few times a match come up with a big save to keep you in it,” Rife said, “There were a couple of moments [today] where she made big game-changing saves… I think Bethany did just a fantastic job.”
Rife is also proud of the rest of his team and the success they’ve had in recent weeks, being able to stay undefeated in MAC play. Along with this, he’s proud of how they’ve been able to shake up the conference and ‘wake up’ some of their opposition.
“The goal doesn't change… I think a game like this wakes a lot of people up,” Rife said, “The MAC is so tight and tough, none of that matters, you got to show up and play on the date. Games like this alert a lot of people about us.”
This win puts Ball State one step closer to achieving its goal of winning the MAC championship, and Moser said while moving up in the MAC is rewarding, it is also nerve-racking.
“Every time you move up in the standings your target gets bigger,” Moser said, “Every team wants to play you like it’s their championship game. It’s really nice to see all of our hard work come to fruition with these results.”
Ball State plays Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. against Akron, Ohio.
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