In her first year as head coach, Christy Longacre led Ball State field hockey to its first Mid-American Conference Tournament since 2011, one season after the Cardinals lost all six of their conference games.

But her biggest accomplishment might be returning a family culture back to the team.

Longacre won't take the credit, however, because that’s her style. Instead, she said the seniors were responsible.

“They’ve made this team a family again,” she said. “They’ve made each other important and backed each other up and believed in each other. That’s what’s been missing for a couple of years now.”

Ball State went 2-16 (0-6 MAC) last season, and Longacre's squad didn't take long to surpass that win total, starting the season 3-0.

This season hasn’t been easy for Ball State, which finished the regular season 8-10 (3-3 MAC). But senior midfielder Mikayla Mooney said Longacre’s flexible coaching style and knowledge of her team has helped that culture change.

“She knows each and every one of her players so she knows how to adjust her coaching style,” Mooney said. “She knows all our strengths and weaknesses. She just knows how to make sure things get done, but also when to have fun, too.”

Senior midfielder Morgan Nash said Longacre’s energy and relationship with her players brought the team’s confidence back. It also doesn't hurt that Longacre was an assistant coach with the Cardinals for three seasons before taking over as head coach.

“Her positivity with all of us really motivates us to work hard for her,” she said. “Having her be with us for the past four years and the only one who’s really stuck with us since our freshman year, we definitely want to do this for her. We definitely look up to her.”

Longacre said the team chemistry is something that needed to be fixed when she took over — but she still won't take the credit.

“What they’ve done with this team is great,” she said. “Being a team on the field is important, but being off the field is even more so. They’ve made everyone feel super important and that’s what it’s all about.”