Morris' Goal, Tough Defense Down MAC West Leader EMU
MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State soccer team handed Eastern Michigan its first conference loss of the season Friday with a 1-0 victory on a cold, wet afternoon at the Briner Sports Complex.
Eastern Michigan had won all four of its previous Mid-American Conference contests. But Maimee Morris' second-half goal propelled the Cardinals to a shutout win over an Eagles team that had out-scored its MAC opponents by an 8-1 margin entering the game. EMU also featured two of the top goal scorers in the league.
"I was very pleased with the way the girls carried out our game plan today," Ball State coach Craig Roberts said. "Eastern Michigan is obviously a very good team. I felt this was the best performance we have had so far this season."
Ball State -- wearing pink jerseys in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- improved to 6-4-3 overall and 3-1-1 in MAC play. It also cut into the West Division lead of Eastern Michigan, which fell to 7-4-1 overall and 4-1-0 in the league.
The Cardinals will continue their home weekend Sunday when they host another division foe, Western Michigan, for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Ball State's effort defensively Friday prevented Eastern Michigan from generating hardly any promising scoring opportunities. The Cardinals limited the Eagles to five shots for the game, all of which came after halftime. At the break, Ball State held an 11-0 lead in shots.
The Cardinals came close on several of those first-half looks with senior midfielder Alyssa Ables finding the post once and sophomore forward Jasmine Moses forcing a pair of tough saves from Eastern Michigan keeper Jenna O'Dell.
In the 72nd minute, Morris broke the scoreless drought for what proved to be the game-winner. She sent a ball with her left foot from the top of the box that glanced just off the fingertips of O'Dell and into the top of the net. It was the first goal of the season for the junior midfielder from England.
"I've been trying to shoot and trying to score all season, so when the ball came to me I turned and gave it a shot," Morris said. "I'm not left-footed, so that was a bonus.
"Last year, we didn't play as well as we should have against Eastern Michigan and dropped a big game. Today was all about kind of getting that back and proving to that we can do great things."
The Ball State defense continued to hold strong after Morris' goal. Eastern Michigan managed a few late looks, but Cardinals goalkeeper Aubrey Buehler made the plays when they came to her to preserve the shutout. She came out of the net to secure a dangerous cross and also made a pair of saves in the closing minutes.
The shutout was the second of the season for Ball State and for Buehler. The senior from Waukesha, Wisc., and former transfer now owns 14 shutouts in her collegiate career and nine as a Cardinal.
"Before we came out today, we challenged our back line and made sure they knew they were competing against the top forward line in the MAC right now," Roberts said. "We wanted to see how they would match up, and they did a great job."
Ball State held the Eastern Michigan duo of Angela Vultaggio and Cara Cutaia to a combined two shots on the afternoon. The pair had accounted for 10 goals in the Eagles' first 11 games.
Offensively, Moses led Ball State with five of the Cardinals' 18 shots, while Morris and freshman forward Morgan Whitfield recorded four shots each. Ball State put seven of its shots on frame, and O'Dell made six saves for Eastern Michigan.