Three takeaways from Butler soccer's 1-0 victory over Iowa Western in NJCAA Tournament
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — It's an upset in terms of seeding but if you know the type of schedule the Butler Grizzlies have played this season, you're not surprised they beat Iowa Western.
They will now turn around and play fifth-seeded Salt Lake Community College at 4 p.m. CST. If they win that match, they will advance to the national semifinals on Friday, with an opponent to be named later.
A loss could put their advancement into jeopardy and would have to wait and see who wins between Salt Lake and Iowa Western on Wednesday. They would need Iowa Western to win 1-0 or on penalty kicks to move on.
For those who are surprised, we're going to share three things that led to the Butler victory
Using the wings
Butler did a really good job of using the width of the pitch to attack Iowa Western. Butler has the talent to go inside or out, they were comfortable it seemed to get the ball out on the wings and attack, setting up a cross.
While Natalie Amaya didn't start the match, she made her mark throughout the match. She used her quickness to punish the Reiver right back time and time again. The freshman from Maize South HS was officially credited for the goal, her seventh of the season.
That's what eventually led to the goal and that's also what led to other opportunities for Butler. They had some counter opportunities in the second half that were created down the outside.
Sure, when you get a shut out, you're going to praise the defense but it was how it was done for Butler that set the tone early and led to the victory.
Despite the nerves from both teams to start the match, it was Butler's defense that was fully engaged early on. They kept Iowa Western out of the penalty box for much of the first half, not allowing a shot inside the box before the halftime whistle.
While there were things to fix, such as clearing the ball properly and not kicking it back to the opposing team, Butler did a good job of bending but not breaking as Iowa Western appeared to be throwing everything they had at the Grizzlies.
While Iowa Western kept running a strike to the top of the box, it was the Grizzlies' back line that made sure it was for naught. In the end, the Grizzlies came out unscathed and picked up a clean sheet to boot.
With that defense is Kyrah Klumpp. The freshman goal keeper was a rock wall in net, stopping every shot that came her way. While she only had four official saves, it felt like many more.
Being physical but not too physical
Butler was called for a lot of fouls but no cards on Monday night and as the match wore on, it felt as if the physicality of the match wore on Iowa Western. Despite what some think, soccer is a physical sport. There's going to be contact and fouls. It's about how hard or dangerous the foul is.
The Grizzlies played the ball, made fouls, it used their aggressiveness to poke the ball free, limit opportunities and create counter attacks. Sometimes they were called for a foul but the official let some go, despite Butler being called for 15 fouls and Western only six. You play until the official says no and that's what Butler did on Monday night.
The aggressiveness isn't anything new for Butler. They've been called for more fouls in 14 of their 23 matches. If you look at their four losses, three of them you could say the opponent was the aggressor as Butler lost the foul fight.
There were some tough free kicks given right out of the box but it goes back to our other point, the defense did their job and kept the Reivers off the scoreboard.