Written By: Mick Tidrow | @mick_tidrow17
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Ball State Field Hockey will have a major opponent coming Sunday when the Big Ten Iowa Hawkeyes make their way to Muncie for a showdown on ESPN3.
The Cardinals are looking to get their second win on the season as they stand at 1-8 (0-0 in MAC). Ball State dropped its match Saturday to the Ohio Bobcats 4-2. The Hawkeyes come in after a loss Friday at Indiana, 3-1 after they had a four-game winning streak.
Ball State, under first-year head coach Sally Northcroft, is looking to win its first game of the season against a Big Ten opponent, as they have dropped all four games this season (0-4) vs. Big Ten teams. The Cardinals have played close matches with power conference teams this year, showing improvement under Northcroft. Sunday could be a statement win.
“We have nothing to lose in this game, but everything to prove to ourselves what we have and how tough we can be mentally,” Northcroft said. “This team is ready to do big things. We just need to pull it all together.”
Mick’s 3 Things To Watch Sunday:
- Can Ball State open up space up front and create quality shot attempts vs. a stingy defense?
On the season, the Cardinals offense has only attempted 66 shots and scored 13 goals. With the pressure defenses have applied on them, the Cards have not been able to break out in the scoring department this season. Junior forward Lexi Kavanaugh is leading the team with five goals and 12 points. She has been able to find the back of the cage by creating open shots and shaking defenders on the run. If the Cardinals can get out in space and get one-on-one match-ups down the field, while creating pressure against the Iowa defense, it will open up the passing lanes and Ball State can get easier shot attempts.
2. Does Ball State play up-tempo and the style of Big-Ten teams? Or do they slow things down and control the pace of play?
In the Cardinals previous match vs. Ohio, the Bobcats’ fast pace and their forwards were able to beat the Cardinals one-on-one. The pressure and speed applied on Ball State forced situations they were not comfortable in. This led to four goals being scored by Ohio. When the Cardinals’ offense slowed the paced and controlled the tempo, they were able to find the back of the cage on two occasions. The Ball State offense and defense so far this season has benefited from slowing the pace and forcing opposing teams to play their style of field hockey.
3. Look for the Cardinals to attempt to create more penalty shot chances.
This season, the Cardinals have shot only 42 penalty corners all season. They have allowed 85 penalties inside the circle including 12 Saturday vs. the Bobcats. This has not allowed the offense to get more high-quality shot chances. Penalty shots put a defense in a tough situation, and if the Cardinals can apply that pressure to the Iowa defense, it will keep the Hawkeyes defense on their toes and force them to be more effective.
The Cardinals have the team chemistry and the emotion to stay in every game and compete. Sunday will provide another opportunity. Game time is slated for Noon EST on ESPN3. You can watch the game on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app.