MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State soccer team, seeded sixth in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, will travel to face third-seeded Central Michigan in Sunday’s quarterfinal round.
The game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the CMU Soccer Complex, comes exactly one week after the teams met on the same field in Ball State’s final road game of the regular season. The Chippewas emerged with a 1-0, double-overtime win in that matchup.
Ball State (10-6-3) finished with a 5-4-2 mark in conference play after a 3-2 loss Thursday to defending league champion Miami University. The Cardinals featured the top statistical defense in the MAC throughout the year, ending the regular season with a 0.84 goals against average.
Victoria Jacobs, who has helped to anchor the Ball State defensive unit all season, also leads the team in goals after scoring her fifth of the year against the RedHawks. Michelle Blok and Kelsey Wendlandt have both scored four goals, while Nicole Pembleton and Elaina Musleh own three each.
Central Michigan (8-10-1) came on strong with an 8-3 league record after starting with a challenging non-conference schedule full of teams from power conferences. The Chippewas are also stingy on defense, allowing just six goals in 11 league games to tie Miami for the fewest surrendered in the MAC.
The defenses ruled the day in the first matchup between Ball State and Central Michigan with the game going scoreless into the second overtime. The teams were headed for a draw before a late miscue from the Cardinals led to the game-winner from Central Michigan’s Nicole Samuel in the 104th minute.
Laura Gosse leads the Chippewas offensively with five goals on the season, while Grace LaBrecque owns a 0.75 goals against average between the posts. LaBrecque, along with Ball State’s goalkeeping tandem of Layne Schramm and Brooke Dennis, ranks among the top keepers in the MAC.
The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the semifinals next weekend at the site of the top remaining seed. Sunday’s other first-round matchups include (8) Ohio at (1) Eastern Michigan, (7) Northern Illinois at (2) Miami, and (5) Kent State at (4) Western Michigan. The Ball State-Central Michigan winner will play the Miami-Northern Illinois winner.
The tournament champion will earn the MAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Miami claimed the title last season, while Central Michigan received an NCAA at-large bid after reaching the championship game.