Women’s soccer earned its first win of the season, defeating Miami (Ohio), 5-2, Sept. 3.
The Bulldogs (1-4) wasted no time getting the early advantage as sophomore Katie Griswold scored two goals within the opening 13 minutes of play.
Griswold’s—and Butler’s—first goal of the season came in the sixth minute after a Redhawk defender slipped and lost possession. Griswold took the ball and beat the keeper on a breakaway.
Just seven minutes later, Griswold recorded another goal. This time, it was with some help from her teammates.
Sophomore Rachael Melendez and freshman Jackie Hafele set Griswold up for a goal in the 13th minute.
The Bulldogs added to their lead before halftime when Melendez scored on a direct kick in the game’s 28th minute to put Butler up 3-0.
Team depth played a factor for the Bulldogs as they went five deep off the bench in the first half.
Freshmen Ali Backscheider, Rachel Sklarski and Anna Dolezal all saw playing time in the first half, as did sophomores Claire Milam and Heather Keiser.
Backscheider and Milam recorded 36 and 42 minutes, respectively.
Butler head coach Tari St. John commented on the important role of her team’s bench.
“Not only is it important for them to get playing time and learn how to win a game,” she said, “but to be able to come back out in the second half with the starters having fresh legs is key.
“It’s not just about getting them minutes off the bench. They are playing a role for this team.”
St. John’s strategy worked.
After being relieved by Backscheider in the first half, Griswold added yet another goal in the 51st minute.
The goal, her third on the day, marked a hat trick for Griswold.
Four minutes later, the Redhawks got on the board, as senior Rachel Byron successfully converted a penalty kick, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to three.
The onslaught of goals died down and the score remained unchanged until Butler’s Melendez connected on a pass from freshman Anna Ventimiglia to stretch the lead to four.
The goal marked Melendez’s second on the day.
A case of too little, too late for the Redhawks, Miami junior Sarah Dessfelt netted a goal in the 85th minute to make the score 5-2.
The Bulldogs celebrated as the final buzzer sounded, marking the squad’s first win of the year.
“I think it’s a reflection of the process we have endured and the four defeats we have started off with,” St. John said. “We have learned so many lessons.
“I always knew it was coming with this team. When you start seven freshmen on average, you are going to have some growing pains.
“There are moments of greatness and it was fun to finally see them put it together.”
The game featured impressive individual performances, most notably from Griswold and Melendez, St. John said.
“You saw something special from Katie Griswold in the form of goals,” St. John said. “She does so many other things for us, but the most important thing she can do is score goals and she did that today with a hat trick.”
Griswold was named Horizon League Women’s Soccer Athlete of the Week for Sept. 6.
Melendez contributed two goals of her own for the Bulldogs and assisted on a third.
“Melendez plays like a senior,” St. John said. “She is so savvy.”
Another side story for the Bulldogs was freshman goalkeeper Julie Burton getting her first career start.
Olivia Walter, Butler’s junior goalie, received a red card versus Indiana, rendering her ineligible. Consequently, freshman Julie Burton was thrust into the starting position against Miami.
While Burton said she felt some nerves during the Indiana game, her teammates and coaches helped put her at ease going into her first start.
“All week in practice, the coaches were talking to me and Olivia was really helpful,” Burton said. “Everyone is such a great teammate. They don’t make you feel nervous for games.”
Burton had a strong performance, saving four of Miami’s five on-target shots.
After four straight losses, the Bulldogs were able to put the pieces together to knock off Miami.
The season, like St. John’s squad, is extremely young. The Bulldogs have 13 matches remaining before the Horizon League Championship Tournament starts Oct. 31.
Butler will conclude its four-game homestand Friday when they take on the St. Louis Billikens is at 5 p.m.