The Grizzlies open the season with a #11 pre-season ranking from the NJCAA and NSCAA. Prior to opening the season with the Butler Classic on August 26 vs Iowa Western and August 28 vs Laramie County, the Grizzlies took on three NCAA DII institutions. Butler played host to Emporia State before traveling to Ft Hays State University and Newman University.
In the opening match vs Emporia State, the Grizzlies allowed an ESU first half corner-kick be the deciding play in a 1-0 loss to the Hornets. Although the Grizzlies held the majority of possession and created a handful of dangerous chances, they were unable to find the back of the net to equalize.
The Grizzlies second match saw them travel to Ft Hays State University to take on the first year program at their brand new FHSU Soccer Complex. The teams played to a 1-1 draw before the match was called with 22 minutes left to play due to lightning in the area. Abby Ponce, a freshman from Oxnard, Calif., had Butler's goal. Cindy Benitez, who was a two-time All-American at Butler before transferring to Fort Hays State, scored the only goal for the Tigers. Benitez is one of six former Grizzlies (Kacy Hale, Gina Hernandez, Sade Humphrey, Ortensia Alcantara and Denise Banuelos) playing for Fort Hays this season.
The final match of the pre-season had the Grizzlies travel to Coach Hunter's Alma Matar to take on the Newman University Jets. The team was able to pull out a 2-0 victory on a strong second half performance. The Grizzlies received goals from two freshmen, Stephanie Bonilla (Dallas, TX) and Alyssa Miller (Thornton, CO). Mel Nuessen and Aisling Dyer combined in goal to record the clean sheet.
"Our goals in this pre-season were to give every player a chance to showcase her individual abilities and take advantage of the opportunity to play, find the system of play we want for this team and see if we can execute it, and finally to see if we were good enough to go for results in the closing minutes of each match," explained Coach Adam Hunter. He summarized the pre-season by saying, "I think we were able to accomplish all three goals of the pre-season. The girls did a great job of trying to absorb what we are trying to teach, all while still bringing their own individual talents to the team. I feel that the caliber of opponents we played this pre-season will have our players prepared to open the season on August 26. In addition to our preparation, I think several of our kids were able to make names for themselves when talking to these universities as potential destinations after Butler."