Butler Grizzlies soccer falls in tough game against Salt Lake CC

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
The Butler Grizzlies' Kim McAlpine (25) goes up for a corner header in the first half of the game against Salt Lake on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The Grizzlies fell, 2-0 at Daytona State College, the host of the NJCAA Soccer national tournament

DAYTON BEACH, Florida — An 83rd minute goal by Salt Lake's Cecilia Norman gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead and for the Butler Grizzlies, dropped them in the second match of pool D group play.

The Grizzlies are now 1-1 in group play and now have to wait the fate of the Iowa Western-Salt Lake match on Wednesday night to see if they can move onto the national semifinals that start on Friday. 

It's going to be tough. 

"The second goal was a killer," Butler head coach Adam Hunter said. "I saw some heads hang after the second goal and I told them we're in a tournament. This is a pool game. At that point, you know, the way they responded I thought we kind of snap back pick their heads up."

The 1-0 loss would have put Butler into better position but Norman's goal in the 83rd minute was a backbreaker. Butler was already +1 in the goal differential. They now stand -1 with no more games remaining. 

For Butler, they have to wait for Iowa Western, who is-1 as well to play Salt Lake, who's +2. It's unknown if Butler is going to be able to make it out of the group due to Butler's -1 scenario. The tiebreakers are head-to-head and if all three teams tie, it comes down to goal differential. 

The options are very limited. 

it appeared Butler was going to battle the Bruins to a draw as they played solid defense. However, after a scoreless first half, the legs of playing two nights in a row wore on Butler. they struggled to get to balls as quick as Salt Lake, who had the night off and eventually, it bit them. 

"It's the team that's not on the back to back has a distinct advantage," Hunter said. "You know that you're going to hit a wall at some point and we tried to keep the legs a little bit fresh in the first half. We played a lot of kids."

Still, the fresher team came out with more pep in their step as they finally struck gold in the 49th minute when Aly Starbuck put Salt Lake (15-3-1) up 1-0. 

That wasn't the backbreaker. It was the second goal, the worst possible outcome for the Grizzlies that was the back breaker. 

Butler lost Kim McAlpine with an injury after she collided with a teammate and as some would say, lady luck wasn't on the side of the Grizzlies. 

"When your 20-goal scorer goes down and you need a goal desperately, things just get a little bit harder," Hunter said. "But you know sports, it's like life. That's why we play on a team because when one person goes down, you hope another player can step up. It just didn't happen for us tonight."

The Grizzlies are 18-5-1 on the season and will watch patiently 

"We need some good fortune tomorrow," Hunter said. "What that will look like... I don't know."

For Hunter, if they move on our not, he's proud of his team.

"We've battled all season and win or loss, I love this team," Hunter said. "I'm proud of what we accomplished this season."

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.