Dan Ball enters his second year on the Bowling Green State University women's soccer staff, having helped the Falcons to one of the greatest seasons in program history in his initial year in Northwest Ohio. Ball, a native of Chatham, England, was hired in June of 2018 and, among other duties, works with the Falcons' goalkeepers.
"We are very excited to have Balley join our team," said BGSU head coach Matt Fannon at the time of Ball's hiring. "As a young goalkeeper coach he has already shown great success and growth in his abilities and will immediately challenge our 'keepers to improve. He is smart, ambitious and a winner, so will fit in well and help us all to grow. He is the perfect addition to our staff."
In Ball's first season with the program, BGSU won both the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament titles, tying the school record for overall wins and shattering the program mark for conference victories.
The 2018 Falcons went 14-5-3 overall and 10-1-0 in MAC regular-season play. BGSU captured the league regular-season crown for the second time in history, and won the league tournament title for the third time ever.
BGSU had a school-record five players named to the All-MAC First Team and the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association All-Ohio First Team in 2018. That quintet included seniors Morgan Abbitt and Erica Hubert and juniors Kathleen Duwve, Maureen Kennedy and Chelsee Washington.
Those same five players all were named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region Team. Hubert became the first player in BGSU history to be named to the all-region first team, while the other four Falcons were voted to the second team.
BG had those five all-region team members in 2018 after having a total of four in the first two-plus decades of the program.
In the classroom, still more records fell. BGSU had a school-record 12 student-athletes named to the Academic All-MAC Team in 2018, and four of those 12 student-athletes went on to be named MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes, tying for the highest total in the MAC. That group included Duwve, Kennedy, Washington and senior Elisa Baeron.
Three of those Falcons Duwve, Kennedy and Washington each were named to the USC Scholar All-Region Team, and Baeron was named an Academic All-American. Baeron was named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-America Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Baeron, who earned third-team honors, became just the second CoSIDA Academic All-America selection in program history.
Kennedy and Washington had joined Baeron on the Academic All-District Team, before Baeron went on to earn national honors.
On the pitch, the Falcons rolled through the rest of the conference en route to the 2018 titles.
BGSU broke the school records for most home wins in a season and most consecutive victories at home. The Falcons went 10-1-2 at Cochrane Stadium in 2018, breaking the previous single-season record of eight home victories (8-1-1 in 2008).
The Falcons captured nine-straight matches at Cochrane, breaking the mark of seven set by that 2008 team. The winning streak was snapped in the MAC Tournament's championship match, but BGSU takes an 11-match home unbeaten streak (9-0-2) into the 2019 campaign.
BGSU started the 2018 season with a 1-3-2 record before ending the non-conference portion of the schedule with a dominant 6-0 win over Youngstown State. Then, the Brown and Orange steamrolled their way through the MAC schedule, going 10-1-0. The Falcons won the first eight league matches before falling, 1-0, at Akron. BG outshot the Zips, 25-7, in that match, hitting the crossbar with a pair of shots, but nevertheless saw an overall nine-match win streak come to an end.
The Falcons bounced back in a big way, posting a 5-0 win at Buffalo to clinch the conference regular-season title. Then, BGSU proceeded to end the 2018 season for four consecutive opponents.
The Orange and Brown topped arch-rival Toledo, 2-1, to end the regular season. That result knocked the Rockets out of the MAC Tournament race. BG then dispatched Eastern Michigan and Ohio in the league tourney, before tying Ball State, 1-1, in the MAC Tournament final. BG trailed the Cardinals during most of the penalty-kick phase, but rallied back to advance past BSU and capture the league tourney crown.
The Falcons scored two or more goals in a match on 12 occasions in 2018, including 10 times in the 14 matches vs. MAC foes. BG allowed as many as two goals only twice, in a 2-0 loss at then-No. 15 Northwestern and a 4-1 setback at Penn State in the NCAA Championships.
Following that Northwestern match on Sept. 9, BGSU never trailed at any point in any game until Akron scored with just 1:41 left in the teams' contest on Oct. 18. BG went a total of 1008:19 nearly 17 hours of match time without finding themselves behind on the scoreboard.
BGSU led the league in a veritable plethora of categories in 2018. In MAC play, BG paced the league in goals, assists, points, shots, shot percentage, fewest goals allowed, shutouts and lowest goals-against average.
The Falcons had 30 players on the 2018 roster. Hubert was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, while Kennedy took home MAC Defensive-Player-of-the-Year honors. Washington was named the United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week on Sept. 25, and Abbitt and Duwve joined that trio on the All-MAC and all-region teams.
But, BG's success was the result of valuable contributions from a host of players on that 30-woman roster. Baeron was named MAC Tournament MVP after BGSU captured the title, and Nikki Cox, Nikhita Jacob and Jennifer Reyes joined Baeron on the MAC All-Tournament Team.
In 2018, BG scored 43 goals, tying the school record set the previous season. Four Falcons Hubert, Washington, Kennedy and Cox each had at least five goals and 19 points. Duwve was on a school-record pace for lowest GAA in a season prior to the NCAA Tournament match at PSU, and ended the year with a GAA of just 0.79.
Duwve had a miniscule GAA of 0.49 in MAC play, as she allowed only five goals in 927-plus minutes in league regular-season action, and had a saves percentage of .878. She led the MAC in GAA and saves pct., both overall and in MAC matches only.
Overall, Kennedy had 10 assists to tie Hubert for the team lead. The 2018 season marked the first time in program history that BG had two players with 10 assists each.
Ball joined Fannon's staff at BGSU after spending the previous two seasons at Concordia University in Seward, Neb. He served as graduate assistant goalkeeper coach for both the men's and women's program. Those two teams went a combined 57-18-8 over the last two seasons, as the men's team was 27-10-3 overall and 13-5 in Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) play under head coach Jason Weides, while Greg Henson's women's program went 30-8-5 overall and 16-3-1 in the league in that span.
At Concordia, Ball helped sophomore 'keeper Lindsey Carley earn GPAC Defensive Player of the Year accolades along with first-team all-league and all-region honors as the Bulldogs won the league title with a 9-0-1 record. During Ball's two seasons at the school, a total of four different goalkeepers in the two programs earned all-conference honors.
The women's program captured the 2017 league regular-season title after winning the conference tournament the previous year. The '17 women's team set program records for fewest goals conceded and most clean sheets. The coaching staff was named United Soccer Plains Region College Staff of the Year last fall.
The men's team set a school single-season record for wins in '17, going 16-3-1. Goalkeeper Jack Bennett, one of those four 'keepers to earn All-GPAC honors during Ball's tenure, ranked in the top 20 among all NAIA goalkeepers in goals-against average a year ago.
"I couldn't be more excited to start at BGSU," said Ball at the time of his hiring. "The opportunity to coach and be challenged at the Division-I level is one I'm incredibly grateful for. Coach Fannon has done great things in his short time at BG and the staff is young and hungry for success, as is our team. Both Matt and (assistant coach) Cian (McDonald) have been incredible in welcoming me and I'm looking forward to learning from them both."
A graduate of Milligan College in Johnson City, Tenn., Ball served as an assistant women's soccer coach at his alma mater from July of 2015 to May of 2016. He worked closely with the team's goalkeepers with the Buffaloes, and under his tutelage, junior 'keeper Charlotte Stephens earned all-conference honors.
Off the pitch, Ball served as International Student Liaison at Milligan, a position he proposed and created which was focused on improving the international student experience. He oversaw 43 international students and was the principle point of contact in the assimilation of international students.
Ball was a four-year starter during his undergraduate career at Milligan, helping the Buffaloes to two Appalachian Athletic Conference titles while earning all-conference recognition in each of his last three seasons. Ball was a two-time team captain for the program.
Ball earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a minor in English at Milligan. He received a Master's in Business Administration from Concordia in May of 2018.