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Victoria Jacobs and the Cardinals host two MAC games this weekend.
Photo by: Courtney Metzger, Hawaii Media Source
Soccer Home For Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State soccer team is back home this weekend to continue Mid-American Conference play with a pair of games at the Briner Sports Complex.

The Cardinals will square off with Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. Friday and Western Michigan at 1 p.m. Sunday as the conference portion of the schedule reaches the midway point.

Sunday's game will be carried live on Sports Link Radio 91.3 FM WCRD with the broadcast also streamed on the live events page of

Ball State (5-4-3, 2-1-1 MAC) went on the road in MAC play for the first time last weekend, dropping a 2-0 decision at Kent State and then earning a 1-1 draw at Ohio. The Cardinals are third in the MAC West standings and own the league's fourth-best conference record overall, behind only Miami University (4-0-0), Eastern Michigan (4-0-0) and Central Michigan (3-1-0).

Sophomore forward Nicole Pembleton scored her third goal of the season to secure the draw for Ball State Sunday at Ohio. She leads the Cardinals with seven total points and is tied with fellow sophomore Jasmine Moses for the team lead in goals. Sophomore defender Pavla Benyrova owns five points with one goal and three assists.

Defensively, Ball State features an experienced back line that has done a good job of limiting opponents' chances. The Cardinals are surrendering fewer than 10 shots per game on average and have allowed only three opponents to score more than one goal. Senior goalkeeper Aubrey Buehler has played all but 33 minutes between the posts for Ball State and owns a 1.20 goals against average and 43 saves.

Eastern Michigan (7-3-1, 4-0-0 MAC) is one of only two unbeaten, untied teams through two weekends of MAC play. Miami University is the other. The Eagles have allowed only one goal through four MAC games and are coming off home wins last weekend over Bowling Green, 2-1, and Central Michigan, 2-0.

Eastern Michigan features both the reigning MAC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week in sophomore forward Angela Vultaggio and freshman goalkeeper Jenna O'Dell. Vultaggio leads EMU and ranks fourth in the MAC with 15 points (five goals, five assists), while teammate Cara Cutaia is fifth in the league with 14 points (four goals, six assists). O'Dell leads the league in both saves (69) and save percentage (.863).

Western Michigan (5-5-2, 1-1-2 MAC) has played some defensive battles with their four league games featuring a total of just two combined goals. The Broncos played Toledo and Northern Illinois to scoreless draws in the opening weekend of MAC play. WMU then split a pair of 1-0 decisions last weekend, falling to Central Michigan and defeating Bowling Green.

Sophomore midfielder Rachel Chaney leads Western Michigan with four goals on the season, while Diana Dedvukaj, Aubrey Sudomier and Kylie Nylen have each scored twice. Junior goalkeeper Michelle Watson has played every minute between the posts for the Broncos and owns a 0.88 goals against average with a .718 save percentage.

Eastern Michigan holds a slim 6-5-2 advantage in the all-time series with Ball State. The Eagles have won the past three meetings, including a 5-1 win last year in Ypsilanti, Mich. Prior to those three games, Ball State lost only one of the previous eight meetings.               

Ball State trails the all-time series with Western Michigan by a narrow 6-8-2 margin. The Broncos earned a pair of victories over the Cardinals last season in Kalamazoo, Mich., winning the regular season matchup by a 3-1 score and defeating Ball State in the MAC Tournament, 1-0.

Sophomore forward Nicole Pembleton has played a part in four Ball State goals this season, and all four of them have helped to decide the outcomes of games. Most recently, she scored the game-tying goal in Ball State's 1-1 draw Sunday at Ohio.

Pembleton's first collegiate goal was the game-winner in the second overtime Aug. 26 against Xavier. She assisted on the game-winning goal Sept. 2 against IPFW and then scored the game-tying goal Sept. 7 at Hawai'i to help Ball State earn a 1-1 draw.

Sophomore forward Jasmine Moses has scored three goals in the past six games. After being held scoreless through the first six contests, the 2011 MAC All-Freshman Team selection scored her first goal of the season Sept. 8 against Detroit. She has since added goals Sept. 16 against Butler and Sept. 23 against Akron.

All three of Moses' goals have come in the first 10 minutes of those games. She scored seven goals last season and already ranks 10th in school history with 10 goals for her career.

The first career goals for junior midfielder Michelle Blok and sophomore midfielder Cailey Starck helped Ball State to its two wins in the opening weekend of MAC play. Blok scored the game-tying goal Sept. 21 in the eventual victory over Buffalo, and Starck scored the game-winner two days last against Akron from 30 yards out in the 82nd minute. Blok assisted on Starck's goal.

After surrendering three goals in its season opener at Marshall, Ball State has allowed just 12 goals over its past 11 games. That stretch includes a Sept. 2 shutout of IPFW and eight games in which the Cardinals have held their opponent to exactly one goal. Butler and Kent State are the only teams since the season opener to score more than one goal on Ball State.

Ball State has given itself more scoring opportunities than its opponents this season, out-shooting them by a combined total of 191-117. The Cardinals have logged more shots than their opponent in 10 of their 12 games, including a season-high 30 shots in their most recent contest against Ohio. The Cardinals out-shot the Bobcats 30-13 in that game for their largest margin of the season.

Pavla Benyrova was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 24 after helping Ball State to a 2-0 start to league play.       

Benyrova scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick Sept. 21 against Buffalo and assisted on another goal in the Sept. 23 win over Akron. Her strong defensive play in both games provided Ball State's opponents virtually no chances on her side of the field. She anchored a back line that surrendered just nine shots on goal for the weekend.

Senior goalkeeper Aubrey Buehler's shutout against IPFW on Sept. 2 was the 13th of her career. It was her eighth since transferring to Ball State after playing her freshman year at UT Martin. Buehler ranks fourth in school history in wins (18) and saves (137).

Senior defender Brigit Reder is tied for seventh on Ball State's all-time goals scored list with 11 in her career. She also ranks 14th on the Cardinals' list for career points with 25 (11 goals, three assists).

Senior defender Skylar Chew was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Week by the league office and the MAC Player of the Week by College Sports Madness after the season's second weekend. She scored one goal and assisted on another in the Ball State Tournament (Aug. 24-26) while helping the Cardinals limit their opponents to just 10 shots on goal over two games.

College Sports Madness named its Preseason All-Mid-American Conference teams in August, and Ball State was well-represented with three selections. Senior defender Brigit Reder was selected to the 13-member first team, while sophomore forward Jasmine Moses was recognized on the 13-member second team. Additionally, freshman midfielder/defender Kaila Mack was picked as the league's preseason Freshman of the Year.

BSU is coming off a 9-9-3 campaign last year as the Cardinals improved for the second consecutive season under head coach Craig Roberts. This year's team is much more experienced with the return of 21 letterwinners and eight starters from a year ago.

Leading scorer Brigit Reder returns for her senior year following an all-conference junior season in which she totaled 16 points and led all Mid-American Conference defenders with seven goals. Sophomore forward Jasmine Moses also scored seven goals for the Cardinals last season in her rookie campaign, but Reder and Moses are just two of a total of 14 returning BSU players who tallied points last year.

Ball State also features a pair of experienced goalkeepers in senior Aubrey Buehler and junior Layne Schramm. Buehler started 19 games in 2011 and posted a 1.30 goals against average.

The Cardinals are in their third season under the direction of head coach Craig Roberts. The program won just four games a year prior to Roberts' arrival but managed seven wins in his first season in 2010 and then improved to 9-9-3 in 2011.

Last year's team won seven games in an eight-game stretch in the middle of the season despite fielding a roster with a combined 18 freshmen and sophomores.

Ball State was chosen fourth in the Mid-American Conference West Division in the annual preseason poll of the league's head coaches. The Cardinals will look to improve on that prediction like they did a year ago when they were picked sixth in the preseason poll but finished fourth with a league record of 4-5-2.

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