ZACH HORRALL | STAFF REPORTER
The Butler University women’s soccer team played their best when so much was on the line, defeating Xavier University 2-1 and putting an end to the regular season on Friday, Oct. 30 at the Butler Bowl.
“It was a pretty dominant performance from start to end,” co-head coach Rob Alman said. “I thought we executed the game plan exactly how we wanted to. We looked very dangerous with a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on. I’m very happy.”
It was senior night for the Bulldogs. Honored before the game alongside their families were Sophia Maccagnone, Randi DeLong, Mackenzie Hopkins, Natalie Nusinow, Paige Johnson, Kim Janitz, Laura Luther and Addison Schaar
Also on the line was where they would play in the opening round of the Big East tournament. A win meant they would play at home against Marquette University, a loss meant they would play at Marquette and a tie meant they would have to wait to see how Providence College did in their game.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made senior day so special!! Shows how much you care & we all appreciated it ? #SQUAD
— Sophie Maccagnone (@Soph_Macc) October 31, 2015
Xavier was the first team to put a number on the scoreboard. In minute 16, sophomore midfielder Skylar Groth scored the goal with an assist from sophomore forward Kenadie Carlson. Alman gave credit where credit was due to Xavier on their goal scored.
“We got hit with one counter in the first half, which, credit to them, it was a really good counter,” he said.
Butler responded just minutes later in minute 34 as freshman forward Halle Stelbasky scored a goal to force the game into a 1-1 tie. Stelbasky was assisted on the goal by freshman forward Paige Monaghan.
Not much later, Stelbasky would be taken out of the game with what looked to be a knee injury. Stelbasky went down hard, and coach Tari St. John rushed to her side along with one of the athletic trainers. The two eventually helped her limp off the field. She only played 10 minutes of the game. Stelbasky’s condition is currently unknown.
The first half saw little competition from Xavier. The Bulldogs played a strong offense and defense, while the Musketeers played a good game defensively, but not as much did not do as well on the offensive side, even with the goal scored.
At halftime, Xavier had just one shot and one shot on goal, both of which came from Groth’s goal. Butler was able to put seven shots on the board and three shots on goal. Monaghan, Stelbasky and senior midfielder Sophia Maccagnone led the way for Butler all with two shots and one shot on goal for each player. Sophomore defender Christy Chou also had one shot for the Bulldogs. Xavier’s junior goalkeeper Rachel Piccus had two saves and Butler’s goalkeeper, sophomore Madison Card, had no saves.
Butler came out for the second half even stronger than they were in the first half. The Bulldogs dominated Marquette offensively, hardly allowing the Musketeers to have time on offense.
In minute 73, freshman midfielder Jamison Midgley, who subbed in for the injured Stelbasky, scored Butler’s second goal of the game. Junior midfielder Serina Kashimoto passed the ball to Midgley, who then shot from 20 yards out to make the goal.
“Coming in was rough, because I came in for Halle,” she said. “That definitely was not the way I’d ever want to come in. … Sometimes you have a gut feeling, and I felt like we were going to score. We kept getting the connections.”
The goal was special for Midgley. It was her first goal in her collegiate career as a Bulldog.
“It’s the first goal of my career,” she said. “That’s really exciting. It’s weird. It’s a different transition from high school, but it’s one of the most special [goals] that I’ve probably ever scored and ever will score in my life; to win for my seniors on senior night, score my first goal, win at home and then to play Marquette at home [in the Big East tournament].”
“Our defense played so tough,” Maccagnone said “Shannon back there, she outplayed it and had a very strong game. Her and Serina kept it very, very tight and they were able to get that force right back.”
Senior midfielder Randi DeLong said offense was the team’s concern during practice this week, not defense.
“We actually worked on offense all week,” she said. “Our defense is pretty solid already. So today, we focused on our defense being more offensive. I think that is where the strength comes from.”
— Butler Athletics (@ButlerAthletics) October 31, 2015
With the win, Butler secured the No. 4 seed in the Big East Conference. Also with the win, they are guaranteed to play Marquette in the first round of the Big East tournament. The game will take place this Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.