By Cleary Percy
Sakiko Manabe and Giselle Nash each scored once for the Butler Grizzlies women’s soccer team, as on Friday night, 18th-ranked Grizzlies knocked out the 16th-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons in the first round of the Region 6 Tournament.
The goals for the Grizzlies came in the nine minute and 76th minutes.
Blue Dragon coach Sammy Lane believes the team was stunned by the early goal from Butler.
“It took us 15 or 20 minutes to recover from it, if it were a boxing match, they hit us and almost knocked us out,” Lane said.
The goal came on a strong shot from Manabe that was taken from the left side of the pitch. It came in low and careened toward the opposite corner of the net, and freshman goalkeeper Karsyn Slowather was unable to keep it out.
After the Blue Dragons conceded the early goal, Lane made multiple substitutions in both the 16th and 28th minutes.
In the 32nd minute, the Blue Dragons were given a free kick on a foul by Butler. Sophomore Jada Wyatt took the free kick, but unfortunately for the Blue Dragons, it streaked above the goal.
Throughout most of the first half, Butler was pressuring almost every touch made by the Blue Dragons. It stymied the Hutchinson offense, but for the last 15 minutes of the half momentum switched, and the Grizzlies began to find themselves being pressured in their own zone.
The major chance to equalize came around the 43rd minute, when Butler gave the ball away and Hutchinson found themselves with one of their few opportunities in the game.
Katharina Marx stole the ball from Butler’s Harlie Wilson and flew down the right wing. She dumped the ball off to Maren Lackey, who lightly passed it to Destiny Hoy. Hoy fired a shot from a few steps outside the box to the Butler keeper’s right side. The initial shot was saved but rebounded away from the goalkeeper, and Lackey and a Butler defender raced to get control of the ball which was directly in front of the keeper. Lackey attempted to put the ball in the back of the net but was denied once again by Carla Apodaca, the Grizzlies goalkeeper.
The second half was back and forth, but in the 76th minute, a long cross inside the box by Butler’s Emma Kolbe was headed past Slowather by Nash to put the Grizzlies up 2-0, and was a nail in the coffin to the Blue Dragons comeback hopes.
Butler would finish the shutout of Hutchinson to improve to 10-5-5, and advance to the next round of the Region 6 Tournament. The Blue Dragons finished the 2023 season with a record of 12-5-3.
Lane’s message to the graduating sophomores after the game was an uplifting one.
“There were a lot of tears and stuff like that, I just tried to tell them … tears are for funerals,” Lane said.
Lane thanked the sophomores for their contributions to the team this year, and noted how talented this year’s class was.