Junior Midfielder Emily Scott attempts to kick the ball away from Northern Illinois University on Oct. 30, 2017 at Briner Sports Complex. Terence K. Lightning Jr. // DN File
Ball State soccer hungry for MAC title, NCAA tournament
After a double overtime loss to Toledo in the 2017 Mid-American Conference tournament, the Cardinals return to the field with goals of winning the MAC championship and a first ever NCAA tournament bid.
“The girls are going to put their experience from the past couple years into the play this year,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “We definitely feel like we have a missing link of the story. I feel like we have been on the verge of doing that the past couple years, and we just need to get around that last corner to finish the story.”
This season’s captains are seniors Tristan Stuteville, Lauren Roll and Taylor Pooley. Stuteville held a 0.40 goals against average and maintained a save percentage of .895 last season, including a shutout against Akron. Roll was second in scoring on the team last season with four goals and was a finalist for the NCAA HERO of the Week award. Pooley logged in 1,821 minutes in her sophomore campaign and was a part of a Cardinals defensive unit ranked 25th in goals against average in 2016. According to Roberts, he believes the trio has what it takes to bring the team a MAC Championship.
Aug 24 - @Eastern Kentucky 4 p.m.
Aug 26 - @Morehead State 2 p.m.
“The captains will ensure there is a high level of competitiveness within practice and will also be exemplary both on and off the field for the team,” Roberts said. “As we explained to them, it is very lonely in regards to leadership roles, but good teams need individuals that are accepting of that loneliness at the top and can do the right thing and be a good example to follow. I think all of them will do that this year.”
In the last few seasons, Ball State soccer has grown quickly and efficiently. Since 2013, the Cardinals have had 10+ wins and less than seven losses each season. This includes back-to-back MAC regular season championships in 2015 and 2016. The Cardinals are looking to continue this upward trend.
“In the last five years, the program has evolved by bettering every season; either they have more wins or finished in a better place in the tournament,” Roberts said. “The next logical step would be to win the MAC tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament. That is the next step we need to take in order to make the program go forward.”
With confidence for success and strong veteran leadership, the Cardinals are aiming to make history this season.
“I think that this team is very excited and very ambitious, and I think that we have a lot of good, young talent coming in and it has already impacted the team,” Roberts said. “I think everybody is channeling their experience and their determination. We have already bonded very quickly and we are very close. I think the future is very bright for us.”
Ball State is 1-0 after taking down Purdue Fort Wayne 2-1 on the road Friday.
The Cardinals will face off against Eastern Kentucky Friday before taking on Morehead State on Sunday.