Returning to Briner Sports Complex for only its second home game this October, graduate student goalkeeper Tristin Stuteville recorded a season-high 14 saves in Ball State Soccer’s (13-4, 7-2 MAC) 3-2 victory over Kent State (5-8-3, 3-4-2 MAC) Thursday.
The Golden Flashes outshot the Cardinals, 25-12. Stuteville said she was proud of her efforts but credited the Golden Flashes’ attack. A combined 16 of Kent State’s shots came from junior midfielder Vital Kats and junior forward Cameron Shedenhelm, both of whom are in the top 10 in Mid-American Conference scoring leaders.
“[Kent State] is a dynamic team,” Stuteville said. “They always bring something different to the table to us. For us, it’s just managing the players on the opposition, following the game plan, trusting our coaches and trusting each other.”
With the win, Stuteville now has 71 saves on the season, eclipsing last year’s total of 70.
“The great thing about good players is that they come out in big moments,” head coach Josh Rife said. “Tristin’s been doing that, and I like to think that we’ve been making it as exciting for her, but credit to the other teams for coming out with good game plans and making us work.”
This month, the Cardinals have played five games on the road compared to only two at home. Ball State went 4-1 in those games, but Rife said he was happy to be back in Muncie.
“[The game] almost felt like an away game since we haven’t been at home,” Rife said, “so I think there’s some familiarity that we missed early on in the game. But then again, the girls responded, and I’m proud of their efforts.”
The Cardinals jumped out to a quick start on offense in the first half. The Cardinals got on the board just over two minutes into the game off an own goal by the Golden Flashes, followed by junior midfielder Nicky Potts recording her team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 14th minute.
“[Potts] has just been consistent,” Rife said. “She shows up and does it, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that.”
However, the Golden Flashes responded to the 2-0 deficit in the 22nd minute with Shedenhelm netting one in. Stuteville said this goal was a wake-up call for the rest of her team.
“It was unfortunate,” Stuteville said. “I read the situation correctly, and I knew where she was going. Unfortunately, I just slipped to the top of the box, and my defenders were just a little late.”
Taking a 2-1 lead into the second half, Ball State sophomore defender Lizzie Philbin scored her second goal of the season to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead in the 63rd minute. The Golden Flashes’ sophomore defender Tianna Harris scored in the 73rd minute to narrow the Cardinals' lead to one, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to tie the game.
Ball State will be back in action against Ohio for its final home game of the regular season Sunday. As postseason play draws near, the Cardinals are looking to break the all-time attendance record at Briner Sports Complex of 808 fans for Sunday’s game.
“We want to make sure we send these ladies out on a high note,” Rife said, “but every game in the MAC is tough. We know we’re going to get everybody’s best games, and we’re just going to focus on what we can do better in our next game.”