Ball State had the 2-1 lead at the 73:48 mark of the contest at Briners Sports Complex, but the Cardinals were looking for one more to ensure the victory.
Enter freshman forward Annika Klauss.
After stealing the ball from the Miami defender, she was able to have a clear shot at her opponent's goal. She drained the kick, which was the first goal of her collegiate career.
“I was like, ‘I just gotta put it in because we gotta win this first MAC (Mid-American Conference) game,” Klauss said. “Right when I got to the defender, I was like, ‘you're getting tackled and I'm winning.”
With the score from Klauss, the Cardinals took their first MAC win, defeating Miami (OH) 3-1.
“Getting the win helps give some confidence, which I like,” Ball State head coach Josh Rife said. “This group has been working hard, and I think it was a little unfortunate to not get some different results in the non-conference [schedule].”
Ball State opened their third home match of the season with defensive pressure against the Redhawks. That allowed senior forward Avery Fenchel to give the Cardinals the lead with a goal in the 11th minute.
“The first five minutes are crucial for us,” Fenchel said. “I think just starting the half off strong [helped]. We've been working on runs in the box. I knew where [sophomore forward Delaney Caldwell] was gonna play the ball and it was just able to finish it for us.”
While the Cardinals were ferocious on defense, their offense was no different. Ball State had 10 shots at the goal during the first half. They finished with 15, and Miami finished with 12 attempts.
“In all MAC games, you want to be on the front foot,” Fenchel said. “Just being able to be on the attack takes the pressure off of our defense and allows for us to have a lot of chances [to score].”
Besides one Miami goal and a ball that left the field and hit a red truck on McGalliard, the action looked very similar to the first half. While junior midfielder Kaitlyn Fraser added the other goal for the Cardinals, the Ball State defense continued to hold down the RedHawks.
The win continues the undefeated home record for the Cardinals, which is something that is at the top of their priorities.
“We got to make sure we're capitalizing on defending our home territory,” Rife said. “We talked about it today. Like, ‘hey, we did what we're supposed to do on defending the home territory.’ Now, can we go pick up bonus games on the road.”
Last season, Ball State went 6-1-4 in the MAC. To find success in the conference once again, the Cardinals need to continue the momentum.
“We have dealt with a little adversity,” Klauss said. “...We just gotta come together and don't let [certain moments] bring us apart in games. We had a couple of moments today where it kind of got messy, but we just gotta lock in.”
The Cardinals will continue in conference play as they face Eastern Michigan Sunday, Sep. 24 at 1 p.m.
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