In the last game of the regular season, Ball State won their match against Central Michigan University, 2-0.
This win secures the third seed in the conference for Ball State and home advantage for their quarter-final match this Sunday, October 29. At the time of this publication, the Cardinals are currently slated to face Ohio University in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
“The Mid-American Conference (MAC) is very unforgiving,” head coach Josh Rife said. “Today was no different, today was not easy by any means but again, credit to the ladies for being prepared, being focused and taking care of opportunities and chances when they got them.”
The Cardinals scored goals within the opening minutes of each half. Junior forward Lexi Fraley chipped both of these in, her 9th and 10th of the season respectively.
“The past couple of games have not been our best,” Fraley said. “We just really want to pick up the momentum and going into today was a big opportunity for us. I think we capitalized and took that so that we can go in with a great mindset, kind of peaking, into tournament play.”
Sophomore midfielder Tori Monaco was another offensive force for Ball State today, setting up Ball State's attack and creating opportunities. Along with this, Monaco showed up defensively, halting numerous offensive efforts from the Chippewas.
Alongside Monaco on the right wing was sophomore defender Sami Bird. In her second consecutive start, Bird continued to play key defensive minutes for the Cardinals. Today, Bird made a handful of important stops, clears, and blocked shots from opposing forwards.
“I’ve been out the past few games with an injury, so I think today was pretty big for my confidence," Bird said. “Just making a big presence and showing I can still do it.”
Junior keeper Bethany Moser recorded her third clean sheet of the season, picking up six saves in the process.
Headed into tournament play, the Cardinals are slated as the No. 4 seed after being the No. 1 seed just a few weeks ago. Bird says this is one of the things fueling their fire along with the fact they came up short last year in the MAC tournament.
“Obviously we lost last year in the championship, so I think it's just redemption on our mind,” Bird said. “I think that going into it, we just have a little bit more that we want. Just bringing more grit than other teams will be big for us.”
Redemption is not the only thing on the Cardinals’ minds, as Fraley spoke on how excited she is for tournament play to begin.
“It’s great to showcase who we are and put that into action,” Fraley said. “I mean it's win or go home, so there’s a lot on the line…I think we're really ready to go and it's exciting we have this opportunity.”
Rife said he could not be prouder of the performance today from the Cardinals, but he recognizes their job has yet to be completed.
“You lose, you go home right, You got to be focused, you got to keep everything in check,” Rife said. “You know, physically, mentally, emotionally that you've got to play with a certain edge but, you have got to make sure that it doesn't push you into mistakes.”
Ball State ends their regular season with a record of 8-7-3 and a record of 6-2-3 in the MAC. The MAC tournament begins Sunday, October 29, and concludes the following Sunday, November 5.
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