On a gloomy day, the Cardinals ended their 2023 season with a shutout loss in East Lansing Michigan to the Spartans 4-0. The loss marks their second consecutive road loss and their third loss in four games to end the season.
Following a shootout win against Indiana, the Cardinals came into this matchup with another test from the Big Ten Conference, this time featuring a Michigan State team that came into the matchup on a seven-game losing streak as well as Mid-American Conference (MAC) losses to both Kent State and Miami (OH).
Although Ball State was eliminated from postseason contention a week ago, The Cardinals hoped to finish the season strong and add another loss to the Spartans losing streak on their senior day, however, it became a defensive struggle for the Cardinals to manage from the start.
“We knew it would be a winnable game and we knew we just had to play our hockey,” head coach Caitlin Walsh said. “To be fair I do feel like we played a good 60 minutes of Ball State field hockey, [but] the score did not reflect that.”
In the first quarter, the Spartans came out of the gates with their sticks hot, knocking in two early goals of the hands of midfielders Lulu Fulton, and Ellie Rutherford. The Cardinals gave up four shots while only getting three.
In the second and third, the score remained the same as the Cardinals struggled to get any offense going only registering one shot in the two frames. At the same time, the Spartans ramped up the offense registering four shots and earning six penalty corners on Ball State. The Cardinals did not earn any corners and were in a defensive battle for the two frames.
The defensive battle kept up in the final quarter with the Cardinals surrendering two more goals on five shots in the quarter as the Spartans blanked Ball State on offense and did not allow the Cardinals to take a single shot en route to their victory.
With the loss, the Cardinals’ season has come to an end with no MAC Tournament in their midst as Ball State ends their regular season with a record of 7-10 marking the 23rd consecutive year where Ball State has ended the regular season with ten or more losses. Despite the losing record, the Cardinals will have a lot to look forward to in the offseason as they will have most of their seniors - Hannah Johnston, Emma Hilton, Rachel Bohn, and Micheala Graney - returning for a fifth year next season.
“I think it is just extra motivation moving through spring and into fall,” Walsh said. “We are returning most of our team, even though we have quite a few seniors, quite a few of them are coming back and taking their fifth year so I am excited about that. So it is just getting back to the basics.”
Contact Dane Massey with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danemassey22.