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Women’s soccer outlasts Ball State to win MAC Tournament

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Falcon players hold up the MAC Tournament Championship trophy.

Women’s soccer defeated Ball State in sudden death penalty kicks yesterday to take the MAC Tournament Championship and punch their ticket to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament.

The match began well for the Falcons, who controlled the majority of possession. Neither side, however, was getting many chances; only one shot each midway through the half. In the 27th minute, Nikki Cox was taken down, and Falcons’ defender Maureen Kennedy stepped up to take the kick. Kennedy knocked the ball into the back of the net, changing the score to 1-0 in favor of the Falcons. The rest of the half left the score at 1-0.

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The second half started off with the Cardinals in the front foot, with Ball State looking ready to tie the score up. There were a couple times the Cardinals almost got the ball in the back of the net, but their goal came in the 55th minute. The play started with a corner kick and turned into many people trying to get the ball into the net. The side referee signaled the ball had fully passed the goal line from one of these kicks, which tied the match up at 1-1. The remainder of the half saw the Falcons gain some of the momentum back, almost taking the lead. However, they couldn’t quite get the golden chance they needed, and the second half ended at 1-1.

Overtime was more of the same with the Falcons having much of the possession and chances. They were not able to capitalize on any of these chances, and the game went to penalty kicks. The Falcons and Cardinals both played to a 4-4 draw in the first five penalty shooters, which led to sudden-death penalty kicks. Ball State started by missing the goal entirely, leading to the Falcons bringing in Elisa Baron for their first chance in sudden death. Baron expertly slotted the ball into the back of the net, giving the Falcons the win and the MAC Tournament Championship.

The team has been a force the whole season, only losing one match in the MAC during the entirety of the season, and with that comes a lot of hopes to win bigger and better things later in the season. Coach Matt Fannon talked about his feelings on winning the tournament.

“We dominated the game, and I was incredibly impressed and proud of the performance as much if not more so than the result because the girls really stuck to the game plan and they did really well,” he said.

The Falcons were the better team for the majority of the match, and with that comes time where the game is unpredictable. Fannon commented on some of these points in the match.

“The first 20 minutes of the second half it was all Ball State, wasn’t it, and I think when they scored they certainly had the momentum, and they were all over us for a portion, but I think we were very clearly the better team in the first half,” he said. “When you’re pushing and pushing and don’t get a goal, it can often hurt you emotionally.

“After that, I think our schedule this year and what we’ve done and what we’ve just been through as a team this year prepared us for the moment to not get too down on ourselves emotionally and let us ourselves get into pens and make sure that we were just able to focus on what we were doing rather than the emotions of ‘oh man, we didn’t score.’”

The Falcons were also thorough in being able to close out the match like they had most of the season. This match may have went longer than the matches the rest of the season, but Fannon talked about how what they did in training helped them during the match.

“We’ve been practicing pens for a bunch of weeks now and honestly, we’ve just been smashing them top ends left and right, so I wasn’t too worried,” He said. “At one point, we were 3-1 down, and I may not have been quite as confident at that moment. But overall, I think that we’ve spent a lot of time working on our composure and being calm, and I think that probably shown through in the end.”

The Falcons were able to win the MAC Tournament Championship after going into the tournament as the first seed. It has not been decided yet which team the Falcons will play.

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