Panthers pummel Bulldogs for tournament title

The Butler women’s soccer team saw its season end Sunday in the championship match of the 2010 Horizon League Women’s Soccer Tournament, falling to Milwaukee, 5-0.

Panthers’ (12-6-2, 6-2 HL) junior Sarah Hagen, the Horizon League Player of the Year, scored two goals and assisted on another to spark a huge second half for the Panthers.

Hagen scored three goals during Milwaukee’s two tournament matches and was named tournament MVP for her efforts. She finished the regular season tied for third in the nation in goals scored (18) and fifth in points per game (2.10).

The Panthers capitalized on a Butler mistake in the 31st minute to take the lead. Butler junior goalkeeper Olivia Walter lost her grip as she attempted to gather a ball and Milwaukee freshman Sara Stern fired the ball into the net.

Up 1-0 on the Bulldogs after the break, Hagen took a pass from Stern in the 51st minute to extend the Panthers lead to two goals.

Moments later, sophomore Helen Steinhauser scored to make it 3-0, and sophomore Meghan Elvington added another to extend the Panther lead to four. Hagen sealed the victory with Milwaukee’s fifth goal in the 75th minute.

The loss was the Bulldogs’ first in five matches. Butler, which started the season 2-7, won five of its final six matches to tie with Milwaukee for first place in the Horizon League for the first time since 1996.

Despite her team falling just short of an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, head coach Tari St. John said she enjoyed the season.

“It’s so easy to lose sight of what was accomplished during the season and during conference play,” St. John said. “What a ride. What a season.

“The resilience they demonstrated after non-conference and getting themselves to the final hopefully overrides the feeling they have right now.”

St. John was named the 2010 Horizon League Coach of the Year after leading her Bulldogs to a first-place tie. In order to even make it to the final on Sunday, the Bulldogs first had to knock off the Detroit Titans.

Butler edged Detroit, 2-1, behind goals by sophomore Claire Milam and freshman Jackie Hafele.

Just before the half, Milam took a pass from Nikki  Hafele and beat keeper Nora Abolins to knot the game at 1-1.

The score remained deadlocked until the 83rd minute, when Jackie Hafele directed
a header into the left corner to give the Bulldogs the game-winning goal.

Although they finished second in the tournament, St. John said she viewed it as a learning experience.

“It was important for us to be here, to be in the championship game and get that championship experience,” St. John said.

Butler will lose three players to graduation this spring—defenders Sarah Phelps and Cara Burchett and goalkeeper Olivia Walter, who recorded 68 saves and six shutouts this season.

Among the returners for the Bulldogs will be Jackie Hafele and sophomore Katie Griswold, who were both named to the All-Horizon League First Team. Hafele won Horizon League Newcomer of the Year after finishing her freshman year with three goals and five assists.