Ball State soccer looked to have seized the momentum early after jumping out to a 1-0 lead within 10 minutes, but Toledo fought back for a 2-1 overtime victory to end Ball State’s season and advance to the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed with the result and I felt we battled well, we took the lead and got off to a great start,” head coach Craig Roberts said. “We were pretty consistent throughout the game, it was a good fight for both teams. They gave a free kick which I didn’t think should be a free kick but it resulted in a goal and the end of the season.”

The Cardinals wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as junior midfielder Paula Guerrero sent a free kick into the 18-yard box from 35 yards out, deflecting off Rockets goalkeeper Madison Perrin to the foot of senior midfielder Allison Abbe for a quick goal, Abbe’s second of the season.

Ball State stayed aggressive but couldn’t find another goal as neither team was able to establish clear control of the game after the early score.

“As far as battling and competing, I felt the girls did a tremendous job,” Roberts said. “The outstanding seniors who are on this team contributed amazingly over the last four years.”

In the 40th minute, Toledo’s Chiara Paradiso fired a dangerous free kick from 35 yards away toward the back of the net, but senior goalkeeper Alyssa Heintschel was able to knock it out of harm’s way for a corner kick.

Toledo scored its equalizer 11 minutes into the second half. The Ball State backline was beat on the left side, as a Toledo player sent a ball across the 18-yard box and Toledo junior midfielder Alena Sidwell found an opening to get past Heintschel and tie the game 1-1 in the 56th minute.

Senior midfielder Lucy Walton tried to answer with a goal of her own in the 64th minute after she found some space to rip a shot, but it sailed on her and went over the net for a goal kick.

Toledo began to attack the Ball State defense after getting its equalizer. In the 68th minute, freshman forward Sophia Lewis fired a strike at Heintschel, who deflected the ball right to sophomore forward Kelsey Kraft, whose header sailed just wide.

Heintschel again had to make a diving save in the 88th minute to help send the game into overtime after Toledo had a dangerous free kick opportunity sent into the box and shot toward her for the final suspenseful moment of regulation.

Sophomore forward Sam Kambol looked to end the game in the 96th minute. She fired a solid free kick on frame, but Perrin was there for another Toledo save.

In the second overtime period Toledo was able to seal the game. In the 107th minute, senior defender Chiara Paradiso sent a free kick toward Heintschel, who was able to make another save, but the shot was rebounded and sent into the back of the net to end Ball State’s season and send Toledo to the MAC Tournament championship.

“The reality hasn’t set in for [the seniors], it won’t set in for a while,” Roberts said. “Everybody’s deeply disappointed but as I’ve told them, as a coach I’m here to give them support and provide them with the best experiences I can. Unfortunately, in this case I can’t change the situation and I can’t coach out of the situation, we just all have to deal with it and move forward from it. 

They understand that it’s the end, but they know I’m immensely proud of them and Ball State as a university should be proud of everything they’ve contributed both on and off the field, they’re going to be very hard to replace.”

Ball State finished the game with a 13-12 shot advantage, but faced a rare 10-2 deficit on corner kicks. Heintschel made five saves in the final game of her record-breaking career.

Ball State finishes the season with an 11-7-3 record, winning a third straight MAC West Division championship and recording 10 or more wins for the fifth straight year.

“I told them after the game that if I had the opportunity to coach any other team in the MAC I’d choose Ball State every time," Roberts said. "I’m so proud of what they achieved again this season. “They wanted to produce their own identity and be their own team and I felt that by the end of the season they showed qualities that are different than any other team that we’ve coached here at Ball State.”

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