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Lady Bisons on the road in Indiana this weekend
Courtney Williams
Courtney Williams

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lady Bisons soccer team heads to Indiana this weekend for two final tune-ups before the start of Atlantic Sun Conference play.

Friday afternoon at 3 the Lady Bisons will be in Muncie, Ind., to face Ball State. Sunday afternoon at 1 they will face IUPUI in Indianapolis.

The Lady Bisons, who have lost their last three games, enter the Ball State game with a 2-4 record. Ball State is 1-5 with all five losses on the road. They beat SIU-Edwardsville 3-2 Sunday in their home opener.

This will be the first time the Lady Bisons have met Ball State in women's soccer.

“We want to win every game we are playing, but our real goal is the Atlantic Sun Conference,” said Lady Bisons coach Jon Ireland. “We have two games to try to correct a lot of stuff and make sure we are all on the same page.

“We know what we need to do so we can go into conference games with some confidence. Our main goal this weekend is to cut down on some of the mistakes we have made in first few games and that we start seeing some improvement in some areas.”

The Lady Bisons will open the conference portion of the season Sept. 24 at Campbell.

“Once we get into the conference anything can happen,” said Ireland. “I think there is a lot more parity in the conference this year than ever before. The key is that we continue to get better and that we are prepared when we get into the conference.”

Ireland could start as many as eight freshmen in this weekend’s games. He refuses to let the youth of the team be an excuse for poor play.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are or what classification you are,” said Ireland. “When you are out there you have a job to do and you have to do it. Players have to understand that and take responsibility.”

Ireland admits there is a “huge” learning curve for the freshmen who have to make a number of adjustments in their lives in the transition to college. He knows that sometimes younger players might be reluctant to correct the play or attitude of a teammate, especially if the teammate is an upperclassman.

“The more that these freshmen play, the more confident they are going to get,” said Ireland. “That is the real key.

“They are going to make mistakes. And we let them know that is O.K. as long as we correct those mistakes. We don’t want to talk about the same problems week after week.”

Despite the youth and inexperience of the team Ireland likes the way the team is playing at this stage of the season despite the lack of goals being scored.

“We are going through some ups and downs, but without a doubt we are playing so much better as a team than we ever have,” said Ireland. “In terms of possession and the way we want to play they are doing everything. That is the encouraging thing.”

Ireland expects a strong challenge from Ball State, the Mid-America Conference champion in 2006 and 2007.

“Ball State has beaten some really good teams,” said Ireland. “They play very well at home. It is a step up in competition.

“IUPUI is also a very, very good team. What you want to do before starting the conference is to play two very, very good teams.”

The games in Indiana are a homecoming for freshmen Martika Powe, a midfielder, and Courtney Williams, a defender. Both played at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

The game can be heard at www.ballstatesports.com. Live stats will also be available.