In what graduate student goalkeeper Tristen Stuteville described as “a small check-in to our ultimate destination,” Ball State Soccer (3-0-0, 0-0 MAC) was able to hold off Illinois State (1-2-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley) in a 1-0 victory Thursday. 

Not only did the Cardinals extend their unbeaten streak to 12-0-2 over their past 14 games, but Stuteville extended her season-opening shutout streak with the win. Having played all 270 minutes for Ball State this season, Stuteville said she is pleased with her success but credits her team’s defense for helping her succeed.

“I have a great group of girls in front of me,” Stuteville said. “They’re going to do everything they can to keep the ball out of the net, and I’m going to do the exact same thing. We believe in each other, and we know where we want to be to get the job done.”

Head coach Josh Rife said he is fortunate to keep Stuteville for another season. In Thursday’s victory, Stuteville made four saves, all in the second half.

“She’s done a great job of making every moment count,” Rife said. “As a leader, I think she’s been great.”

For the Cardinals, the first half was reminiscent of the opening 45 minutes in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Marquette. The Cardinals led 5-0 in shots attempted after the first half, but the Redbirds’ defense was too much for Ball State to find the back of the net early on.

Sophomore defender Grace Alsop keeps ahold of the ball Aug. 28, at Briner Sports Complex. Ball State Soccer defeated lllinois State, 1-0. Rebecca Slezak, DN

Illinois State’s offense came out stronger in the second half with five shots through the first 15 minutes. Both defenses continued to keep up with one another until the 83:59 mark in the second when junior midfielder/forward Tatiana Hawkins-Dabney notched her second goal of the season. Hawkins-Dabney’s goal was ultimately all the Cardinals needed to keep their unbeaten streak alive.

In addition to her goal, Hawkins-Dabney also recorded three shots in the game, two on goal, after entering as a substitution. 

“It was kind of an ugly game, but I’m glad we got the outcome we were looking for,” Hawkins-Dabney said. “When I was going in [the game], the coaches told me to make an impact. I felt like either I had to assist or pick up the other girls because we were all getting frustrated, and we just needed that one goal to set us off.”

Senior midfielder Julia Elvbo dribbles the ball during the game Aug. 28, 2019, at Briner Sports Complex.  Ball State defeated Illinois State, 1-0. Rebecca Slezak,DN

Hawkins-Dabney sat out all of 2018 due to transferring from South Florida. With two goals through three games this season, she said she is feeling energized as the season continues. 

“We’ve been working so hard,” Hawkins-Dabney said. “We are definitely a relentless team. No matter how hard the other team is beating up on us or what the score is looking like, we are fighting until the end and always looking to get that point.”

The Cardinals will conclude their four-game homestand Sunday vs. Loyola-Chicago at 1 p.m. 

Contact Connor Smith with any comments at or on Twitter @cnsmithbsu.