In a must-win match to secure a top seed in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament, Ball State lost 2-1 to Bowling Green University.
This is the Cardinals’ first loss at home and became their second match of the week where they lost within the last minute. This result officially ends their chances for the MAC regular season title.
"If I’m going to be real honest, I feel terrible, furious,” Ball State head coach Josh Rife said. "When you lose back-to-back games in the last minute off of set pieces… I wouldn't be as mad if I didn't think we were a capable group, but when you give up those moments, it doesn't win you championships.”
Regardless of this, the Cardinals still have an opportunity to land in the MAC Tournament at the three or four spots, but will no longer be in the running to host a tournament match.
Ball State fought hard in the first half, matching Bowling Green's early goal with one of their own from sophomore midfield Emily Roper.
After this, maintaining possession continued to be an issue for the Cardinals until the second half. Here, possession was maintained in the defensive third and was pushed up for potential offensive opportunities.
“Our advantage was in the back,” Rife said. “To build from the back and break the other team's initial line of pressure is something we’re working on, but we have to continue to get better.”
Ball State’s offensive success today was found in set pieces. Roper is one of the Cardinals who was essential for Cardinal success. Today, she scored a goal from a free kick from her teammate, junior defender Alex McPhee.
While good looks for the Cardinals came from set pieces, on the other side of the pitch, the Falcons found luck there as well, getting their go-ahead goal off of a free kick.
“Getting another goal felt really good, but on the defensive side, we got to keep working on set pieces,” Roper said. “You win some, you lose some, and we kind of hurt ourselves today.”
Rife echoed this and spoke a little on what comes with giving up an easy look off a free kick, especially one with under a minute to go.
“It’s intense and it's tough… I think of late, it’s little moments that continue to get us and it's frustrating, Rife said.”
Freshman defender Audrey Goodyear was a difference-maker for the Cardinals. Enacting numerous key plays, Goodyear was able to help save potential Bowling Green opportunities when she became the last line of defense.
“I know I got to be there for my teammates, it’s all about support,” Goodyear said. “Everyone gets beat sometimes.”
This is Goodyear’s first year at Ball State, but even as a freshman, her presence and leadership on the pitch have not been disregarded by her team.
“It's obviously hard moving out of the back, but it is important to stay clean, stay positive, and stay strong,” Goodyear said.
Ball State's overall record falls to 7-7-3 while they stand at 5-2-3 in the MAC, which moves the Cardinals to fourth place in the conference.
With Bowling Green taking this one, the rivalry continues to brew between the two universities and the Cardinals are hoping to get a shot at revenge in the upcoming conference tournament.
Ball State's last game of the regular season is at home and will be played on Thursday, Oct. 26th at 3 p.m. against Central Michigan University.
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