Butler Grizzlies soccer picks up first conference win in shutout over Kansas City Kansas CC

Lionel Tipton
Bulter's Kim McAlpine

EL DORADO – Denied her second goal of the season when Kansas City Kansas goalkeeper Leah Williams made a save, Butler sophomore Natalie Amaya didn’t have long to wait for another opportunity.

And when that chance arose just 4:08 later, Amaya left no doubt, taking a crisp pass from freshman Kenzee Godwin and putting it past Williams to close the scoring in the 12th-ranked Grizzlies’ 3-0 triumph Wednesday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.

“That pass was perfect,” Amaya said afterward. “I would have been embarrassed if I had missed it. I had to make it, because the cross was so perfect. She set me up perfectly; I had to make it.”

The victory evened Butler’s record at 3-3-1 in their Jayhawk League opener, with another league match to follow Saturday at home against Hutchinson.

Grizzlies coach Adam Hunter said it was nice to get Amaya’s goal, which provided some breathing room against KCK (1-2).

“I think it took the stress out of the game a little bit for the kids,” he said. “KCK, the defending East champs, it’s good to get a win against them, get the three points (in) our first conference game.”

Strangely enough, Amaya’s first attempt ended up being put into the net off the rebound by sophomore Kim McAlpine, McAlpine’s second of the season. Butler’s opening goal came on a penalty kick by Iyanla Bailey Williams – her team-leading fourth goal of the young season. As a team, the Grizzlies have now scored 13 to just eight for their opponents.

So far, so good, Amaya said.

“I think we’ve all been working together greatly,” she said.

Hunter said it was great to see the two second-half goals, after only holding a 1-0 halftime lead.

“We were underperforming a little bit (after the first half) with only a one-goal lead, off a penalty no less,” he said. “I think everybody was expecting we’d be playing better, so getting those goals helped us to relax.”

Butler’s schedule has been challenging, to say the least. The Grizzlies have had nonconference matches against top-ranked and defending national champion Tyler (Texas), No. 6 Seminole (Okla.) State, No. 7 Laramie (Wyo.) County, No. 11 Rose (Okla.) State and No. 16 Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa. They fell to Tyler, Tonkawa and Seminole State but defeated Rose State and tied Laramie.

And now, it’s time for the business of conference play, and a shutout victory over the defending Jayhawk East champion Blue Devils is a great way to start.

Even though sophomores provided the offense, freshman goalkeeper Kyrah Klumpp played into the 77th minute before she was relieved by sophomore Sharon Ngbuini, who completed the shutout. Klumpp improved to 2-2-1 on the season and saved all four shots on goal she faced.

“Kyrah’s playing pretty good here,” Hunter said. “She had a good game against Laramie, when we tied, 2-2. “

Blending an experienced group of sophomores who qualified for the NJCAA Division I tournament with a touted group of freshmen is not always the easiest thing, but Amaya said she felt the group really began to mesh during the Sept 4-5 trip to Wyoming, when the Grizzlies shut out Casper, 3-0, and forged a 2-2 tie with Laramie.

“Our incoming freshmen have a lot of talent,” Amaya said. “I feel like after (the) Wyoming (trip), we just kind of clicked and really hung out a lot. That trip was kind of a good way for us to all bond.”

But they still can blend some more, Hunter said.

“I think it’s an ongoing process,” he said. “I think each game that we get under our belt, we become more of a cohesive unit. But I think that the group kind of hit it off straightaway.”

Playing such tough competition to begin the season should benefit Butler in league play, Amaya said.

“(Facing) the top teams, we’ve been having to go to a higher level,” she said. “It will pay off.”

It doesn’t hurt to be adding freshmen who piled up accolades during their high school careers.

“I think we’ve got a lot of local kids who were very decorated their senior year,” Hunter said. “That’s kind of behind them now, and they’re trying to learn how to become college players.”

No. 13 Butler CC 3, Kansas City Kansas CC 0

KCK;0;0—0

Butler;1;2—3

Goals

13' — Butler, Bailey Williams (penalty kick)

51' — Butler, McAlpine (unassisted)

55' — Butler, Amaya (Godwin)

Saves

KCK – Williams, 7 shots, 4 saves; S. Lopez, 1 shot, 1 save. Butler – Klumpp, 4 shots, 4 saves; S. Ngibuini, no shots, no saves.