Ball State soccer bounced back from its first home loss in almost three years with a convincing 3-0 win over Mid-American Conference opponent Eastern Michigan, a game in which Ball State had more goals than Eastern Michigan had shots.
“We learned from the situation where we’ve gone up a goal and not allowing teams to come back after you and making sure we close out,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “I was pleased to see us make our corrections and move forward.”
The Cardinals didn’t waste any time getting in the scoring column Friday, as junior midfielder Amanda Shaw sent a header into the back of the net just two minutes into the game after senior forward Allison Abbe sent in the Cardinals’ first corner of the day. The goal was Shaw’s third of the year, making her the fourth Cardinal to record at least three goals this season. Abbe’s assist was her fifth of the year, the most on the team.
“It was awesome coming back from injury and getting some minutes,” Shaw said. “It was exciting to get to come back and help out the team today. There was a great ball played in, [senior defender] Sam Mattlin did a great job blocking out the keeper for me and I just finished it. It was nice to score early and get to take a deep breath and play more composed.”
Although they were held scoreless for the next 71 minutes of action, the Cardinals continued to rack up the shot attempts and put consistent pressure on the Eagles defense.
The pressure and patience eventually paid off for Ball State. The Cardinals broke through in the 73rd minute when junior midfielder Alessandra Fistrovich fielded a throw-in from junior midfielder Emily Scott, turned and fired a shot from 10 yards out past Eagles goalkeeper Kaylin Williams for the team’s second goal of the day. The goal was her second of the season, and the assist for Scott was her second of the season.
“I saw Emily go in for the throw, and the team was telling me to run in,” Fistrovich said. “Luckily it deflected the right way so I just turned and whacked it, I saw it go over the goalkeeper’s hands and it felt great.”
Scott wasn’t finished contributing just yet. She and the Cardinals took just 10 minutes to add the finishing touches to their 3-0 victory. In the 83rd minute Scott received a pass from sophomore midfielder Peighton Cook, then ripped a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that curved just enough to deflect off the right post and into the net. Scott’s goal was her second of the season, and Cook’s assist gave her two this year.
“I think the second half was a much better performance,” Roberts said. “The first half I was not very happy with the performance that we put out, I felt that it was a really slow start for us. We addressed that at halftime and I think the game started to change when [freshman forward] Greer Glover went in, she showed a lot of dedication and commitment for the team and I think that was an inspiration to the other players on the team.”
Ball State dominated the shot distribution in the game, surrendering just two shots in the 90 minutes while they shot 16 times, seven of which were on goal.
“The positioning, stepping to the ball and the focus on covering the back, I felt that the girls did a really good job on that,” Roberts said. “I felt that we were reading the game at the correct parts and stepping in where we needed to. The part I was disappointed with was what we’d do when we’d win the ball, that needs to be better. In the second half we read the game, intercepted the ball and were finding players which caused trouble for the defense.”
Roberts also liked the versatility shown by the team today.
“It was a variety of individuals putting forward effort, each of the goals we produced were outstanding,” Roberts said. “It shows the versatility of this team that we can score from right, left, center, set pieces, we’re a threat on everything. The fact that it was balanced and we took care of the ball in the second half, produced more opportunities and converted on those opportunities was great, and with the composure of the team it was great to see the product.”
Senior Tristin Stuteville got the start at goalkeeper today, but did not find herself being tested much, as she saved the only shot Eastern Michigan was able to put on goal.
Ball State (7-6-2, 5-1-1 MAC) is back over .500 for the third time this season and maintained its lead of the MAC West Division with today’s win. The Cardinals will return to Briner Sports Complex Sunday for their final regular season home game against Central Michigan. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff.