Cardinals hand Bowling Green first conference loss in MAC Championship rematch
Ball State Soccer (9-5-2, 6-2 MAC) got revenge from last season’s Mid-American Conference Championship game where it lost to Bowling Green (9-5-2, 7-1 MAC) in overtime. This time around, the Cardinals came out on top in double overtime, 1-0.
“I told the girls before that there is a lot of that history they would want to play to, but these are two different teams with some of the girls graduating. But to the team, it meant a lot,” head coach Josh Rife said. “At the end of the day, it is the top team in the conference, and we have to win against them and that is what feels great.”
Junior midfielder Nicky Potts' goal in the 100th minute gave the Cardinals the win and snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Falcons. Defensively, graduate student goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville made eight saves, picking up her seventh shutout of the season.
“It was a great consensus effort,” Rife said. “I think both teams are tough and gritty, so I am just proud of our kids. Whether it was our goalkeeper or our defenders, it was just a collective defensive effort across the entire field.”
Another player who had an impact but didn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet was junior defender Emily Simmons, who was key in the Cardinals' defensive performance Sunday. Senior forward Sam Kambol also put pressure on the opposing defense, recording three shots on the day, two of which were on goal.
“I thought Emily Simmons had a great match, and I thought she did really well this afternoon,” Rife said. “Sam Kambol is a kid who I know is frustrated and hasn't been showing up on the stat line, but you can’t quantify what her impact and play has been for us in the last five or six games.”
This loss for Bowling Green is its first in conference and closes the gap between first and second place in the MAC standings. Ball State faces Kent State Thursday and Ohio Sunday. Both the Golden Flashes and Bobcats sit in the middle of the MAC standings, looking to break into the top tier.
“I hope our group is feeling confident, as they should,” Rife said. “Bowling Green is a very good team, and there is a reason they are at the top of the league right now. They are well-organized and well-coached. We will probably need help in the conference, but this win should give us confidence for the rest of the regular-season schedule.”