BOBBY JOHNSON | STAFF REPORTER
Entering her final collegiate game, senior defender Stephanie Kaylor realized only 90 minutes remained in her soccer career at Butler. She said she wanted to avoid crying and instead aspired to end her career on a happy note.
Her plan played out just as expected.
“The win over Marquette to end my career was amazing,” Kaylor said. “It was an amazing game to end my career on.”
The Butler women’s soccer team wrapped up its season with a victory over defending Big East champion Marquette University. The win left the team just out of reach of the Big East tournament.
Junior midfielder Sophia Maccagnone said the team will have to use this as more motivation for next season.
“The hardest part was knowing that we deserve to be there after everything we have put in,” Maccagnone said. “And since it was so close, it makes it harder. But it just adds fuel to the fire for next year.”
The team, which finished the season 3-4-2 in conference play and 9-8-2 overall, strung together a five-game winning streak four games into the season. They allowed only four goals and shutout their opponents three times during that stretch.
The streak was snapped with a loss to Villanova University at the start of conference play, which proved to be the deciding game for the final spot in the Big East tournament. Butler and Villanova both finished conference play with 11 points, but the Wildcats were awarded the last spot because of their midseason win over the Bulldogs.
“The toughest thing of not getting into the tournament is knowing that, if we got a result against Villanova, we would have been in,” Kaylor said. “Literally just one little mistake on our part and it cost us a tournament spot.”
The team then lost three of their next four conference games before finishing the season 2-0-2. Senior forward Elise Kotsakis said the turnaround started previous to their game versus DePaul University.
“We had a big moment when we turned our season around before the DePaul game,” Kotsakis said. “We got together and had a talk about changes we needed to make to have success.”
The season was a positive wake-up call” for the team in the sense that it shwed them how good they can be, Maccagnone said.
“We proved we can compete with every single team and that we are one of the best,” Maccagnone said. “But, as a team, we just need to be even stronger physically and mentally in order to stay ahead.”
Kaylor said the recurring theme for the team was to continue to strive for improvement and find ways to win games.
“We were a great team, but some results just didn’t go our way,” she said. “So after that, we turned everything into just figuring out how to win close games and how to improve our team in the process of all that.”
The team will lose five seniors, including both Kotsakis, who earned All-Big East second team honors, and Kaylor, one of the team’s best defenders. However, All-Big East first-team member Maccagnone said she expects the team to compete for a spot near the top of the conference next year.
“Our goal is to make the tournament and win the championships, so that is still the goal,” Maccagnone said. “Obviously we have huge shoes to fill with our senior class leaving. But they left a legacy of hard work and confidence that I know our team can continue and channel in order to be even stronger.”