Butler Grizzlies soccer struggles in road loss to Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa Lady Mavericks

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Butler sophomore midfielder Morgan Houston heads upfield while being defended by Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa defender Amaka Etumudor during the Grizzlies' 3-2 loss at Tonkawa on Wednesday.

TONKAWA, Oklahoma — You cannot say the Grizzlies lost on Wednesday afternoon due to a lack of trying; it was more of a lack of goals. 

Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa's Cory Torres hit a shot in the 70th minute as the Lady Mavericks upset No. 11 Butler, 3-2.

The loss dropped Butler to 1-2 on the season.

"Haven't composure in front of the goal and they just want to hit the ball hard at the goal and not given much thought to it," Butler head coach Adam Hunter said. "At this level, that's just not good enough."

For Butler, a large portion of their roster are freshman, 14 of the 23 players who have seen significant playing time, are freshman. Meaning, only three months ago they were playing in high school and it's still a different level when you move to the NJCAA level. 

NOC-Tonkawa took advantage of their experience, where they have a couple of third-year players on their roster, including Torres, who hit the game winner.

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To coach Hunter, Butler wasn't prepared when they walked off the bus and it rolled into warm ups and into the game where Milica Bulatovic split two and picked up the through ball behind the back line. It led to the easy goal 31 seconds into the match.

"I've been around long enough to see when a team's not ready to compete," Hunter said. "I told if this is what you're going to give our opponent, you're going to be down a goal in the first 10 minutes and sure enough it was."

For the youth on this team, maybe the high ranking and the bullseye on your back of being Butler 

"I definitely don't think we were ready for what came at us for our first road game from a college freshmen perspective," Hunter said.

The Grizzlies, who were preseason No. 11 and picked to win the KJCCC East has faced a really tough schedule and these experiences can only build up to moments later in the year when they remember being down. 

Freshman Yossi Villagrana answered back for Butler in the 23rd minute, right out of the water break. She took a deflection, cut through two defenders and send a rocket to the upper-90 and to equalize the match.

Bulatovic collected her second goal of the game and fourth of the year when a low shot deflected off the keeper, Ashton Conley, and Bulatovic sent home the easy rebound in the 48th minute. 

Conley, who was starting in place of Kyrah Klumpp, is a sophomore who played for Butler basketball season, as well as the soccer team. She was seeing her first game action of the season and had made some solid saves.

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Conley did stop a penalty kick on a questionable call in the 33rd minute to keep the match level. She then made a nice 1-on-1 save right before the half ended. 

Low shots are tough for keepers and the Lady Mavs made Butler pay.

When asked why he made the keeper change after Klumpp had a clean sheet in the previous match, Hunter said it was about opportunities.

"Kryah [Klumpp] hasn't done anything wrong or performed poorly, we just felt like it was Ashton's [Conley] turn to go and so we gave her an opportunity today," Hunter said. 

Conley finished with five saves on seven shots on goal despite the loss. 

Butler sophomore forward Kim McAlpine battles for the ball against a Mavericks defender during the Grizzlies' 3-2 road loss at Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa on Wednesday. McAlpine was fouled on the play, which set up a penalty kick goal from teammate Iyanla Bailey Williams.

Butler equalized after Kim McAlpine was taken down in the box. Bailey Williams scored her second goal of the match on the penalty kick. However, it was Torres who had the final word four minutes later.

After a questionable call, Torres lined up a free kick from the far left side, sending it sailing over the head of Conley, who stands 5-10, for a shot that would have made Messi proud.

Butler would get the ball into the box but never could make the keeper work. They didn't take advantage of their free kick opportunities and when they were in the box, they were often sending shots way over the net or it was deflected away.

"We just missed our opportunities tonight," Hunter said.

There were a lot of them. In all, Butler had 22 total shots, with nine being on net. Six of those opportunities came in the second half. 

Butler is left to regroup as they host Emporia State in a scrimmage on Sunday at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.

"We'll get to work on our set pieces and our depth through experience," Hunter said. "We'll work on finishing, finishing, finishing, finishing."

They will then host sixth-ranked Seminole State (OK) (1-0) at home on Tuesday before heading to Wyoming for a tournament. 

NOC-Tonkawa 3, Butler 2

Butler—1;1-2

Tonk.—1;2;-3

1' - Tonkawa: Milica Bulatovic (Chloe Wilkins assist).

23' - Yossi Villagrana

48' - Tonkawa: Milica Bulatovic

63' - Bailey Williams (PK)

67' - Cory Torres (free kick)

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.