MUNCIE, Ind. -- Kent State handed the Ball State soccer team its first home loss of the season and snapped the Cardinals’ four-game unbeaten streak Friday.
In a game featuring two of the top defensive teams in the Mid-American Conference, the Golden Flashes rode an early goal from Jessacca Gironda to a 1-0 win at the Briner Sports Complex. In the process, they dealt Ball State its first conference loss.
The Cardinals dropped to 7-3-1 (2-1 MAC), while Kent State improved to 7-4 (2-1 MAC). Ball State will be home again Sunday to host Ohio at 1 p.m. Live stats and streaming audio from Sports Link Radio on WCRD will be available at ballstatesports.com.
Gironda, who was coming off a hat trick in Kent State’s most recent game, scored Friday as part of a steady offensive attack by the Golden Flashes early in the game. She took a pass from teammate Jenna Hellstrom in the right side of the box, then turned and fired the ball into the left side of the net for what proved to be the game’s only score.
The goal came in the 11th minute and was the only one allowed by Ball State keeper Layne Schramm, who entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in save percentage.
“We just didn’t come out at the start to the level we can perform, and we need to take a lesson from that,” Ball State coach Craig Roberts said. “We have a young team and we learn from our losses very well. We’ll take a valuable lesson from this one and improve.”
Kent State registered eight of its 11 shots in the first half of the game before Ball State went on the offensive over the final 45 minutes. The Cardinals posted 10 shots in the second half to three for the Golden Flashes as they furiously searched for the equalizer.
Two of Ball State’s best chances came in the last 15 minutes. The first came when Maimee Morris found Madison Oyer for a header in front of the net, but the header sailed over the crossbar. The second came when Starck lofted a pass into the box to Morris, who turned and fired a shot that was headed for the corner of the net before being deflected at the last second by Kent State goalkeeper Stephanie Senn.
“We fought hard to get the goal back,” Roberts said. “I thought we deserved to get it back, but we didn’t. But you have to take care of business when you have an opportunity to score, and we fell short. I didn’t think we executed our set plays as well as we could, and we need to be more consistent in that area.”
Senn finished with eight saves in the game, including five in the second half, in shutting out a Ball State team that had not lost since Sept. 13.
Oyer and Starck led Ball State with three shots and two shots on goal each. The Cardinals out-shot Kent State for the game by a 15-11 margin, and the teams were even in corner kicks with seven apiece.