“I’ve never been so happy to score a goal for a team before.”
Those were the words of junior midfielder Nicky Potts, whose overtime goal gave Ball State Soccer (7-3,1-1 MAC) a 3-2 win over Eastern Michigan (1-7-2, 0-2 MAC) Sunday. The victory was the Cardinals’ first Mid-American Conference win of the season.
Head coach Josh Rife said he was impressed with his team’s grit and energy after Friday’s 1-0 loss to Central Michigan.
“I don’t care what anybody’s record is,” Rife said. “When you come into conference play, every game is going to be tough. Eastern Michigan is a great team, and every game is going to be a grind.”
The Cardinals faced a 1-0 deficit early in the first half, with redshirt junior Sabrina McNeill recording her second of the season for Eastern Michigan. Although the goal was McNeill’s only time finding the back of the net Sunday, she remained a force for the Eagles, taking seven shots in the game.
Later in the first half, Ball State tied the game with goals from sophomore midfielder/defender Sammi Corcoran and Potts, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead at halftime. Corcoran’s goal was the first of her Ball State career, and Rife said it was well-deserved.
“She came in fit, she takes care of herself, and she prioritizes,” Rife said. “She trains hard every day. I’m really proud of her that she got a goal today, and I think it’s a small reflection of all the work she does on the field.”
During halftime, heavy rain began falling after a drizzle in the first. However, it did not slow Eastern Michigan down, as Eagles’ sophomore defender Sarah Ash tied the game at two. While the rain eventually stopped, neither team could find the back of the net, as the Cardinals went to overtime for the first time in 2019.
The Eagles began halftime up 2-0 in shots, but Potts’ goal ultimately gave Ball State the edge at 96:47 into the game.
“We worked really hard as a team, and I’m glad we got the win in overtime,” Potts said. “It showed how hard we’ve been working.”
The Cardinals saw another strong effort in net from graduate student goalkeeper Tristen Stuteville. The Eagles ultimately outshot the Cardinals 15-11, but Stuteville said her team’s defense played tremendously despite the rainy weather.
“I think it was a game under some tough circumstances,” Stuteville said. “I think we faced some adversity today, but just like Coach Rife said, good teams find a way to win. With the [weather] conditions in mind, I think [my defense] made some good tackles and had a good day.”
Ball State heads on a two-game road trip later this week, taking on Akron Friday and Buffalo next Sunday.