After battling for 90 minutes, Ball State lost its match against Northern Illinois 1-0. This is the Cardinals’ first Mid-American Conference (MAC) loss of the season.
Coming into this match as the number one seed in the conference, Ball State will inevitably fall after this result, as its record is now 5-1-3, 7-6-3 overall.
The game-winning goal came in the 89th minute for the Huskies, as the Cardinals came close but were unable to come out of this one with a draw.
“I mean, it happens. We just weren't disciplined for the full 90,” junior goalkeeper Bethany Moser said. “I think that's something we've been harping on. Just do your job for 90 minutes, and hope that things take care of themselves. I think NIU did that today, we didn't, and they capitalized off of it.”
The Huskies dominated ball control in this match, only allowing the Cardinals one shot in the first half and just two in the second. Along with this, Northern Illinois only gave up one corner kick.
This is the first time the Cardinals have been shutout since early September. This also marks NIUs’ first win against Ball State since 2017.
Moser was a reliable presence for the Cardinals today, just falling short in the last moments of the match after facing 23 shots and nine corner kicks.
“I think, obviously, everybody’s frustrated,” head coach Josh Rife said. “It’s a loss…We can’t do anything to change it. We can feel sorry for ourselves and keep our heads down or we can say, ‘It happened, how are we going to respond?’”
Junior defender Maya Millis also touched on this frustration after the match, but like Rife, said they have to keep moving forward.
“With every season, there is going to be highs and lows and controversy,” Millis said. “It's not the end of the world, and we have to bounce back. We have a big game on Sunday to look forward to, these types of things happen.”
Ball State returns home Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. to play Bowling Green (7-5-2, 5-1-2 MAC). It is the Cardinals’ second to last match of the regular season with the MAC Championship tournament beginning Oct. 29.
Rife said there is urgency with the remaining two games, but the Cardinals’ goal and mentality has not changed.
“I don’t believe in making a bigger deal of things than they are. If we treat every game as I said, expecting to win, then our mentality shouldn't change a lot,” Rife said. “How do we go back to things that we know we can do well, how do we go do those things right?”
Millis also mentioned how the team this year differs from last in terms of depth. Millis said because of this, everyone has to step up to win.
Moser echoed this, speaking on the importance of the Cardinals’ mindset heading into what could potentially be the final games of this season. Only the top six teams make it into the MAC tournament, with only a slim margin separating the top seven programs as the standings currently sit.
“This is the point where people need to make the decision if they’re going to do their role, come into their role, and really put everything that they have out there,” Moser said. “We could be out of [the championship tournament], so right now, people only technically have two more games this season. We don’t have anything secured right now.”