Coming off a second-place finish in conference in 2014, Butler soccer was predicted to finish runner-up in the Jayhawk Conference, as the league's coaches poll was released Thursday.
Despite finishing second in conference play last season, Butler (16-5-3 overall, 9-1-1 KJCCC) still managed to win its third straight Region VI title and fifth overall in the program's history. The Grizzlies also advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament in Florida for the fourth consecutive year.
Last season's champion, Hutchinson, is the preseason favorite, followed by Butler, Johnson County and Barton.
The Grizzlies bring back 10 sophomores from last year's national qualifying squad, including four All-KJCCC second-team returnees – forwards Jaclyn Means and Rosa Urista-Chico; defenders Baylee Vaughn and Madison Zimmer. Also returning are midfielders Amy Strath, Dalia Fernandez, Sheree Molina and Erika Gurnsey, defender Emma Samenus and goalkeeper Paige LaBadie.
Butler opens the 2015 season at home with a pair of nationally-ranked opponents, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). The Grizzlies will host No. 3 Iowa Western, last year's national runner-up, on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m., then face No. 13 Laramie County on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 11 a.m.
Before the season opener, the Grizzlies will host a preseason scrimmage against Emporia State on Monday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.