Women’s soccer drops first MAC contest
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 19:11
The women’s soccer team’s offensive prowess has improved of late, but crucial mistakes late in games have been the squad’s downfall.
A late penalty kick provided the momentum for Ball State (4-3-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) to take control as the Bulls (2-6-1, 0-1 MAC) suffered their first MAC defeat of the season with a 2-1 loss on Friday at the Briner Sports Complex in Muncie, Ind.
Like many of their losses during this season, the deciding blow occurred late – in the 80th minute. A Buffalo challenge in the penalty box proved to be too harsh in the eyes of the referee.
It proved to be a critical challenge, as Ball State’s Pavla Benyrova knocked home the resulting penalty kick past junior goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon. It was Benyrova’s first goal of the season.
It was the culmination of a wild stretch that saw two goals in the span of four minutes – both by the Cardinals.
“There were some rough calls,” said head coach Michael Thomas. “We were playing great soccer before we scored. And we shut off a little bit. We just have to keep doing things that were making us successful instead of going into a bunker.”
The Bulls managed to put up a fight early and had a chance to take an early lead. In the eighth minute, Bulls freshman defender Kassidy Kidd gained possession of the ball and attempted to sneak in the first shot, but it deflected off the heels of the Cardinals’ goalkeeper, Aubrey Buehler.
Sloppy offensive play led to many UB turnovers, especially during the first half, allowing the Cardinals to rack up four opportunities to score the lead off goal of the game.
The Bulls headed into the second half with a more promising offensive attack. Sophomore midfielder Courtney Mann, assisted by junior defender Natalie Jurisevic, got Buffalo in control, scoring the first goal on a rebound off the goalkeeper.
This gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead – one that only lasted for 20 minutes.
“Courtney Mann scored a great goal today,” Thomas said. “It’s her first goal in her collegiate career.”
The Bulls tried to work up another score after the goal, but the Cardinals persisted to put a great amount of offensive pressure, leaving them with no choice but to focus their attention down on the defensive end. Unable to counter the Cardinals’ attack, the Bulls fell into a tie in the 75th minute. Ball State’s Michelle Blok scored a goal on a rebound off the crossbar.
The energy gained by the first goal only grew for Ball State, as it quickly answered with the aforementioned penalty kick about five minutes later.
The last 10 minutes of the game wasn’t enough time for the Bulls to put another one in the goal. The Bulls fired a total of nine shots, netting one goal, while the Cardinals had 10.
Buffalo has played only one home game since Aug. 23 – a 1-0 Senior Day loss against Niagara (4-4). The Bulls have only won one game during this seven-game stretch – a victory against Robert Morris (0-9-2, 0-0-1 Northeast Conference) at the Niagara Tournament. In the five losses (Buffalo tied St. Bonaventure), the Bulls have scored a total of only four goals – two of them coming in the last two games.
That last stat is what Thomas focused on as he tried to keep things in perspective.
“I think the team did well after a long trip on the road,” Thomas said. “We played well and we scored a goal. We have to take care of the details and start finishing up these games.”
Buffalo has only one more challenge on the road before coming home – a Sunday match against Miami Ohio (7-2, 1-0 MAC) for the Bulls’ second MAC game of the season. Game time is set for 1 p.m.