Coming off a season-high 14 saves in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Kent State, graduate student goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville only needed to make five in Ball State’s (13-5, 8-2 MAC) 2-1 overtime victory over Ohio (10-7-1, 5-4-1 MAC) Sunday.
The win was significant in that it was her 36th of her career, good enough to break the record for all-time wins in Ball State Soccer history.
Stuteville said she had no idea she was approaching the record. The previous record was held by Alyssa Heintschel, who earned her 35th win in a 1-0 victory over Miami (Ohio) Oct. 26, 2017.
“I heard my name at the end of the game, but I didn’t know what for,” Stuteville said. “Lizzie [Philbin] came and gave me a giant hug, and I was like, ‘What is happening?’ It was so unexpected, but it was very exciting.”
Now in her fourth season with the Cardinals, Stuteville credits head coach Josh Rife and his coaching style in helping her succeed on the field. This season, Stuteville has played in all but 41:06 of her team’s minutes.
“I think Coach Rife has been an awesome addition for us, as well as [assistant coaches] Rich [Wall] and Katy [Etelman] on staff as well,” Stuteville said. “I think they just put a lot of belief in us, give us a lot of responsibility to carry out the game plan and allow us to take care of ourselves on and off the field.”
With the win, the Cardinals clinched home-field advantage in Mid-American Conference quarterfinal play Sunday, Nov. 3. Rife said Stuteville has played a major role in helping his team get to a favorable position but credits her defense as well.
“You look back at our season, and she’s kept us in a lot of games and has come up big,” Rife said. “What an amazing individual honor for her. As a team, there’s a lot of other people that have allowed this to happen. I’m happy for the group.”
Both teams ended the first 45 minutes Sunday tied at one, with sophomore midfielder Sarina Dirrig scoring first for the Bobcats followed by Cardinal senior midfielder Peighton Cook tying the game.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second half, resulting in overtime play for the fifth time in the last nine games for the Cardinals.
The Bobcats held a 10-5 lead in shots through regulation time, but junior midfielder Nicky Potts’ team-leading eighth goal in the 91st minute sealed the deal for Ball State in overtime. The Cardinals are now 5-0 this season in overtime games.
“Obviously, it gets really nerve-wracking toward the end,” Rife said. “I wish we could be a little cleaner at times, but this group has a lot of belief and a lot of experience. I’m happy for Nicky, and what she’s done for our team this year has been great.”
The goal added an extra layer of emotion for Potts, whose parents traveled from England to watch her play in Muncie.
“I looked straight at them in the crowd because they’ve never really seen me score live,” Potts said. “They jumped. I’ve never seen my mom jump before.”
Ball State has one last game before the MAC quarterfinals with a contest against Miami (Ohio) Thursday, Oct. 31 at 3 p.m.