Alsop shines in Cardinals season-opening win over Eastern Illinois
Taking only one shot and not recoding a single point last season, sophomore defender Grace Alsop wanted to prove she was ready to take a step forward. On Friday she did just that.
Alsop's three goals boosted Ball State Soccer (1-0, 0-0 MAC) to a 6-0 win over Eastern Illinois (0-1, 0-0 OVC). Her hat trick was the first for a Ball State player since former junior defender Brigit Reder accomplished the feat in 2011.
The Cardinals extended their unbeaten streak to 10-0-2 over their past 12 games, and the team’s six goals were the most in program history since defeating Purdue Fort Wayne, 6-0, in 2005.
“It was complete shock,” Alsop said. “I come from being a defender to having more of an attacking role. I’ve been trying to get out more, and it was just the perfect opportunity.”
Head coach Josh Rife said Alsop has grown in several areas of her all-around game during the offseason and tonight’s performance was a result of her continuous dedication
“[Alsop’s] a very hard worker,” Rife said. “I think she has pretty good vision, and she puts herself in good spots. She reads the game well and allows herself to be in dangerous areas.”
Alsop opened the scoring for the Cardinals at 16:42 into the first half, with the assist coming from sophomore midfielder Kerrigan Johnson. Sophomore forward Tatiana Mason also scored in the first, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead at the half.
Early into the second half, Alsop would score her second of the game to extend Ball State’s lead to three. Senior midfielder Julia Elvbo also found the back of the net before Alsop recorded her hat trick at 68:33 into the game.
“We’re not very direct,” Alsop said, “but we like to find short, little passes and go from there.”
Junior midfielderTatiana Hawkins-Dawney provided some extra spark for the Cardinals to give Ball State its sixth and final goal of the night at 80:29 in the second.
The Cardinals outshot the Panthers, 19-5, with graduate student goalkeeper Tristen Stuteville stopping the only one shot on goal.
“[Tonight] kind of showed where we could be in the future,” Alsop said. “We have a lot more to grow, we have a lot more games, and we could really win it all this year. We’re seeded No. 2, but we can definitely get No. 1”
The game was also head coach Josh Rife’s first-ever win as head coach of the Cardinals. Rife said he was impressed with his team’s chemistry, but there are still many small areas he wants to see his players develop.
“I think defensively, our press can be a little sharper,” Rife said. “I think sometimes we’re a little late in moments, but fortunately, it didn’t hurt us today. My mind’s already shifted to the next game, but I’m proud of the girls and their hard work.”
The Cardinals will be back in action Sunday vs. Marquette at 1 p.m.