YPSILANTI, Mich. -- The Ball State soccer team went on the road Friday and did something only one other team has done all season, shut out Eastern Michigan.
In a key Mid-American Conference matchup of the league’s highest scoring team versus its top defensive squad, it was defense that won out. Victoria Jacobs scored a first-half goal and the Cardinals held on for a 1-0 victory at Scicluna Field.
The win halted Eastern Michigan’s winning streak at six games and drew Ball State (9-3-1, 4-1 MAC) even with the Eagles (7-5-1, 4-1 MAC) in the conference standings.
Both teams sit just behind Western Michigan, which is 4-0-1 in the MAC after playing Miami University to a draw Friday. Ball State will get its shot at the league-leading Broncos on Sunday with a visit to Kalamazoo for a 1 p.m. contest.
“I was very pleased with the way our girls carried out the game plan today,” Ball State coach Craig Roberts said. “We were prepared for what they were doing tactically, and our girls followed the instruction and were able to adjust. Eastern Michigan definitely has an outstanding forward line. It was really a battle of two giants, and we got the upper hand.”
The Cardinals’ goal came off a free kick in the 29th minute of play. Leah Mattingly crossed a pass into the box, where Jacobs met the ball with her head and sent it past Eastern Michigan goalkeeper Megan McCabe. It was the third goal of the year for Jacobs, and it came on one of only six combined shots on goal between the teams all afternoon.
Ball State went into the break leading 1-0, but Eastern Michigan cranked up its attack in the second half. After not seriously challenging Ball State goalkeeper Layne Schramm through the first 45 minutes, the Eagles forced her to make three saves over the final 45 and also saw a scoring chance from Bianca Rossi hit the crossbar.
In the end, none of the Eastern Michigan challenges were successful. An Eagles team that had scored 22 goals during its six-game winning streak was shut out for just the second time all year and the first time since Indiana did it to them more than a month ago.
“We sustained their attack,” Roberts said. “They pushed hard in the second half trying to get a goal. I was pleased with the consistency of our depth and the ability of each player who went in to carry out their responsibility. We still have a lot of young players out there, and they were able to contend with Eastern Michigan’s talented forward line without being fazed by it.”
Ball State became the only team outside of the Big Ten Conference to defeat Eastern Michigan so far this year. The Eagles’ previous four losses had all come against Big Ten teams, two of which were ranked, and all by one goal.
With nine wins now, Ball State has already surpassed its win total from last year with six regular-season games still remaining. The Cardinals continue to maintain the best overall record in the league.
Friday’s shutout was the seventh of the season by Ball State, which entered the game ranked 16th in the country in goals against average. Schramm posted her fourth shutout of the year in just seven starts, while teammate Brooke Dennis owns the other three shutouts for the Cardinals.