After a first-round exit in the MAC Tournament in their 2022-23 campaign, Ball State Field Hockey came to its first practice of the season with fire in its eyes. Sticking to the team motto: Play fast, play forward, play together.
“We're keeping that team mentality of playing hard and playing for each other,” head coach Caitlin Walsh said. “Our motto is play fast, play forward, play together. So I think just sticking to our identity, and coming out strong each and every game.”
Walsh said the team came in with a lot of energy in practice for the upcoming season. She said they have quite a few returners and are ready to go.
“You can tell they have put in the work and are hungry for this year,” Walsh said. “So I am super excited.”
Last year was Walsh’s first season as head coach of the Cardinals, and she said she learned a lot from her first year.
“I think just understanding the team better (on what she learned in her first year), I think now knowing our vision, our goals and kind of where we want this program to go,” Walsh said. “I think the team is on board with it. Having that experience and being able to take it to that next level.”
Walsh said the team has set the bar high for themselves, making it a standard to get into the MAC tournament. She also said the challenging non-conference schedule is going to help the Cardinals prepare for the MAC tournament.
Senior Goalie Hannah Johnston said that after the MAC tournament loss last year, the team has been more open-minded and brought a new level of excitement to this season.
Johnston said she is focusing on building her strength back up after being out last season due to injury. The return from injury will also be her senior season as a Cardinal
“Coming from my freshman year, since from day one, building those relationships has been what's helped me on the field the most,” Johnston said. “I can put my trust in them, I know them as my teammate. They are the best, I know I can trust them, so that's the most important.”
Sophomore forward Fluer Knopert is coming off an All-MAC and Freshman First-team and is expected to be a key player for Ball State again this year. She said learned how to better position herself and make more effective passes coming out of her first and highly awarded first year at Ball State.
Knopert is striving not only to be named to the first team again but wants to see her teammates on it as well.
“I think we have a really good team this year, and I think we're gonna get a ring this year,” Knopert said. “I mean it is ring season. So I just hope that we can do that.”
Knopert said the team came eager to compete this season. Even with the first practice being rusty, she said the team is pushing each other to do better and reach for higher results than last year.
“I am so excited for the rest of the season,” Johnston said. “Everyone's looking so good, the rust is coming off. It is looking really good.”