KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Ball State soccer team dropped a battle of Mid-American Conference leaders Sunday with a 2-1 road loss to Western Michigan.
The Cardinals lost for just the second time in the past eight games to fall to 9-4-1 (4-2 MAC). The Broncos remained unbeaten in conference play, improving their record to 7-3-3 (5-0-1 MAC) and running their unbeaten streak to eight straight.
Ali Russo accounted for both Western Michigan goals on the day, including one in the fifth minute of play that gave the Broncos an early advantage.
“They came out strong, but we made some changes that allowed us to back into the game,” Ball State coach Craig Roberts said. “We started to press them a little bit, and I thought we generated some very good offensive play at times. It was a hard-fought game that we’ll learn from. Western Michigan is a good team, and hopefully we’ll get another chance at them.”
Ball State found the scoreboard in the closing minute of the first half when a shot from Leah Mattingly deflected off a Western Michigan defender and into the net for what was ruled an own goal.
The game then remained tied until the 80th minute when Russo managed to score again for what proved to be the game winner. It was just the second time all year Ball State allowed more than one goal in a game.
The Cardinals, which shut out Eastern Michigan two days ago, finished with a split of two games on their challenging weekend trip to the state of Michigan. Both opponents entered the weekend a perfect 4-0 in league play.
Eastern Michigan suffered an overtime loss Sunday to Miami University, leaving Ball State and EMU tied for second place in the MAC West Division standings behind Western Michigan.
Ball State will now return to Muncie to host Toledo on Friday and Northern Illinois on Sunday. The NIU game will serve as Senior Day for the Cardinals.