The Cardinals continued their spring season at the Briner Sports Complex by defeating Haiti for the second year in a row. The meeting last spring resulted in a 1-0 Ball State win.
Haiti is in the midst of training in the United States for 2015 World Cup qualifying. The team is No. 57 in the FIFA world rankings and No. 6 in the CONCACAF Region.
“The chance to play against a national team like Haiti is a great experience for us and makes us grow tremendously as a program and as a team,” Ball State head coach Craig Roberts said. “The fact that we were able to come out with another positive result is huge for us.”
Haiti was the first to find the scoreboard just more than 10 minutes into Sunday's game, earning a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box. Wisline Dolce lined up the kick and blasted it low and into the right corner of the net to give Haiti the early lead.
Ball State answered in the 21st minute with a goal from Pembleton. The senior-to-be outhustled Haiti players for a loose ball in the box and wound up one-on-one with goalkeeper Cynthia Chery, beating her to tie the game.
The Cardinals then struck again in the final five minutes of the first half. Ball State earned a free kick when Gabby Veldman was taken down outside the bottom left corner of the box. Leah Mattingly sent the ball in, and Chery was able to deflect the initial attempt from Victoria Jacobs at the far post. But Starck was there for the rebound and put it home to give Ball State a 2-1 advantage.
The Cardinals made that lead hold the rest of the way as the teams played scoreless in the second half. Ball State withstood six shots from Haiti after the break, including two more laser free kicks from Dolce, to preserve the victory.
“We are very pleased with the win,” Roberts said. “Haiti is a complete team. They have athletes with some great speed and tenacity, but I felt our girls stuck very well to our game plan.”
Brooke Dennis played the full 90 minutes in goal for the Cardinals, making a pair of saves and coming off her line to play a couple threatening crosses. Chery made two saves for Haiti.
Pembleton and Jenna Finke registered two shots each to lead Ball State, while Dolce topped all players with four attempts. Lindsay Zullo and Kensie Bobo added two shots each for Haiti.
With the win, Ball State improved to 3-0 in its spring season. The Cardinals have five games left and will return to action Saturday at the Briner Sports Complex. The action will start with a matchup against Olivet Nazarene at 1 p.m. and will conclude with a game against Ball State alumni at 3 p.m.
The Cardinals are building toward their traditional season in the fall. Last year, the team reached the championship game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time ever and finished with an 11-7-4 record for the program’s most wins since 2007.