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Michelle Blok ignited the Cardinals in the second half.
Photo by: Meghan Belanger
Blok Nets Two, Soccer Downs Northern Iowa in Opener
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MUNCIE, Ind. -- Michelle Blok scored two goals in a five-minute span Friday afternoon to propel the Ball State soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Northern Iowa at the Briner Sports Complex.

The Cardinals (1-0) limited the Panthers (0-1) to just four shots the entire game en route to the season-opening win. It was the first of two home games this weekend for Ball State, which will host Green Bay at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Despite an otherwise dominating first-half performance, Ball State trailed 1-0 at the break. The Cardinals had not allowed a single shot, with the exception of a Maggie Riley corner kick that managed to curl into the back of the net for Northern Iowa late in the half.

“We came out very strong and the girls possessed the ball very well,” Ball State coach Craig Roberts said. “We had complete performances from the majority of the team. I felt like we were very unfortunate to go into the half trailing, but the girls kept to the task at hand.”

After several near misses to start the game, Ball State wasted little time finding its scoring punch in the second half. That punch came in the form of Blok, a senior captain from Noblesville, Ind.

Less than three minutes after halftime, Blok managed to corral the ball just left of the top of the box. She placed a shot over the outstretched hand of Northern Iowa keeper Whitney Blunt and into the top left corner of the goal.

Then, in the 53rd minute, Blok found herself at nearly the same position on the field after a free kick delivered by Cailey Starck. This time, she hit a low, skidding shot that crept into the bottom left corner to give the Cardinals the lead.

“We knew we were playing well; we just hadn’t found the results yet,” Roberts said. “We started to push a little more centrally out of the back, and that enabled us to get our outside midfielders a little further forward. Consequently we could get the ball centered more as we attacked, and Michelle Blok was able to score as a result of that.”

Ball State continued to apply the pressure, forcing three more saves by Blunt on hard shots from Jasmine Moses, Courtney Chambers and Nicole Pembleton. While none of those managed to sneak in, Ball State was controlling the action. In the end, the Cardinals salted the game away by playing keep away from Northern Iowa in the closing minutes.

A total of 10 players made their Ball State debuts Friday, including four in the starting lineup: freshmen Leah Mattingly and Chay McNitt along with transfers Jenna Finke and Madison Oyer. Freshman Kelsey Wendlandt came off the bench to fire two shots, including one that hit the post, while newcomer Elaina Musleh led the team with three shots.

Layne Schramm played the entire 90 minutes in goal for Ball State, while Blunt and Nicole Postel split time at keeper for Northern Iowa.

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