Ball State quarterback Riley Neal looks for a receiver downfield in a 30-20 loss to Indiana at Memorial Field on Sept. 10. Neal and the Cardinals fell to 1-1 as their late comeback attempt fell short. DN Photo // Grace Hollars
Weekend in Athletics
Most Ball State athletics teams spent the last couple weeks on the road, but Family Weekend will feature home games for football, women's volleyball and soccer.
Cross country and field hockey, however, will hit the road again.
Friday, Sept. 16
10 a.m. Women's volleyball vs. UNC-Greensboro (Worthen Arena)
3 p.m. Cross country in Indiana Intercollegiate Championships (Bloomington)
5 p.m. Soccer vs. Morehead State (Briner Sports Complex)
8 p.m. Women's volleyball vs. Valparaiso
Saturday, Sept. 17
11 a.m. Field hockey vs. Penn State (Iowa City, Iowa)
3 p.m. Football vs. Eastern Kentucky (Scheumann Stadium)
6 p.m. Women's volleyball vs. Ohio State
Sunday, Sept. 18
2 p.m. Field hockey vs. Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa)
Ball State head football coach Mike Neu knows a thing or two about the quarterback position. He was a four-year starter at Ball State from 1990-93, and his last job was with the New Orleans Saints, where he coached Drew Brees.
So when sophomore quarterback Riley Neal threw three interceptions in the first two games of the season, Neu's experience told him not to worry.
"[Neal] just needs to settle down," Neu said. "Last year when he played as a true freshman, there probably wasn't a lot expected of him. You're out there playing just having fun, letting it fly, ... Fast forward to your sophomore year and there's an offseason of buildup and anticipation ... Well, when you want something so bad, sometimes you go out and play a little tighter than you would if you were relaxed."
Consistency will be the goal for women's volleyball when the Cardinals (2-9) host the Active Ankle Challenge Sept. 16 and 17.
Head coach Kelli Miller said it's the reason why the Cardinals lost their first nine games.
“One match will look great, and one will be very average," she said. "This is one thing we have been consistently talking about. We need to keep a consistent level of play and consistent energy so that we don’t have to hope that things happen — we want to know that we can make things happen."
Junior goalkeeper Alyssa Heintschel started all 20 of the Cardinals' soccer games last season, leading the team to the Mid-American Conference regular season title.
But it wasn't enough to keep head coach Craig Roberts from bringing in Tristin Stuteville, a junior transfer from Saint Louis University, to compete for the starting job.
Heintschel said she knew Stuteville was "the real deal."
“I knew she was just as talented [as me], just as hardworking, you know?” Heintschel said. “She has all of these great qualities that she can bring to the team as well so I knew I had my work cut out for me.”
When the Cardinals toe the starting line in Bloomington Sept. 16, they’ll get a chance to see where they stand in the hierarchy of Indiana cross country.
With runners from Indiana, Indiana State, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue lining up next to Ball State in the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships, distance coach Raynee DeGrio said the Cardinals need a strong showing.
“We’re trying to build one of the top programs in the state,” she said. “Doing well in meets like this is indicative of where we’re at with that. There’s a lot of really good talent in the state and a lot of really good programs. We certainly want to be one of them, and I think we’re on our way to doing that.”
Ball State is off to a 4-2 start and will take on two Big Ten opponents in Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend.
On Sept. 17, the Cardinals play Penn State at 11 a.m. followed by a Sept. 18 matchup with Iowa at 2 p.m.