Ball State field hockey fell to Villanova 4-3 despite a small comeback in the fourth quarter, marking their 6th regular season loss in a row counting the five-game skid at the end of last year.
In the first period, the Cardinals (0-1) were able to tie the game after the Wildcats (1-0) scored within five minutes of the period. However, the Wildcats went on a scoring streak and looked to pull away with the game. Led by senior forward Amanda Middleton, Villanova knocked in four unanswered goals going into the fourth period; with Middleton scoring two of the four goals.
Despite letting in four goals, Ball State senior goalie Hannah Johnston made a number of saves throughout the game, including a crucial penalty shot save in the second period.
“Hannah’s phenomenal. She plays with her instincts and she makes big plays for us,” head coach Caitlin Walsh said. “I think she had a great game but I would never want to see her take so many shots or penalty corners again.”
Jonhston had 16 saves throughout the contest on 31 total shots from Villanova.
As the game was coming to a close with little time on the clock and still down 4-1, it seemed hopeless for the Cardinals to find any sort of life. However, it only took 28 seconds for the Cardinals to make it a one-score game with about three minutes in the game.
“Obviously when we went down four to one, it could have been really easy for them to kind of hold their heads down and let the game get away,” Walsh said. “But I am really proud of how they fought til the end. I think it is a testament to the entire team, they trusted in each other and worked hard together to try and pull through with the comeback.”
Sophomore forward Fluer Knopert led the Cardinals with two goals on the day, including one of the two goals in the comeback attempt. Knopert is coming off a 2022 First Team Mid-American Conference and All-MAC Freshman Team season. Knopert looks to continue to be a vocal leader not only on the offensive end but the entire team.
“She is a very crafty forward,” Walsh said. “She’s definitely someone that we can rely on and is someone who will take the shot when she knows she has it…. She knew her chances today and took advantage of them so a very strong player and someone we can look to.”
Ball State will continue its road trip as they travel to Bethlehem, Pa. to take on Lehigh on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m.