AKRON, Ohio -- Twice in its previous three games, the Ball State soccer team broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the final five minutes of overtime to win. Sunday at Akron, the Cardinals wasted almost no time finding the scoreboard.
The Cardinals continued their trademark defensive prowess to make that result hold the rest of the way, posting a 2-0 road victory at Cub Cadet Field for their second shutout in the opening weekend of Mid-American Conference play.
It was the team’s sixth shutout of the season, three each for goalkeepers Brooke Dennis and Layne Schramm, as the Cardinals improved their conference-best record to 7-2-1 (2-0-0 MAC). Akron, which was coming off a win over defending league champion Miami University, dropped to 4-4-2 (1-1-0 MAC).
Ball State is off to a 2-0 start to MAC play for the second consecutive season, and the Cardinals’ record through 10 games is the best since the 2006 team started 7-1-2. The Cardinals were one of four MAC West teams to win their first two conference games this weekend, joining Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan.
Dennis, a freshman, was in goal for Sunday’s victory. The Ball State back line allowed only three shots on goal the entire game, but Dennis was there to stop all of them. The Cardinals successfully limited Akron’s duo of Sarah Sivic and Lani Smith, which entered the game with a combined seven goals on the year, by holding them to two shot attempts each.
“We defended Akron well,” Ball State head coach Craig Roberts said. “They changed their tactics in the second half, but we stayed composed and absorbed what they were throwing at us. It was a very good defensive back line performance. Akron has a very good forward line, but we contained it.”
Offensively, Jacobs put the Cardinals on the board early. Cailey Starck fed a corner kick into the box and Jacobs was there to head it into the net for her second goal of the season.
Ninteen minutes later, Wendlandt took a lead pass from Madison Oyer and found herself on a breakaway. She beat Akron keeper Alex Luevano-Harden one-on-one to give the Cardinals a two-goal advantage. It was the fourth goal of the year for Wendlandt, a freshman from Fort Wayne, who leads the team in scoring.
“We came out and played very well in the first half,” Roberts said. “We had a game plan going in, and the girls implemented it very well. We knew we would get some opportunities, and we took advantage of them.”
Ball State has now outscored its opponents by a 17-5 count on the season, having posted shutouts in more than half of its games. The Cardinals, which entered the weekend as the MAC’s top defensive team statistically, improved their goals against average to 0.47.
Sunday’s game was the last in a stretch of five straight on the road for Ball State, which will now return to the Briner Sports Complex. The Cardinals host Kent State at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Ohio at 1 p.m. Sunday to continue league play.