Butler falls in national semifinals; season ends at 21-3

Butler falls in national semifinals; season ends at 21-3

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Butler soccer team saw its season come to an end with a 2-0 loss to Iowa Central on Friday in the semifinals of the NJCAA National Tournament Titan Soccer Complex.

Butler finishes third place at nationals for the second time in the past three seasons. Butler was also among the final four teams in the nation in 2013. The Grizzlies end the year with a 21-3 record. 

Both Iowa Central goals came in the second half and both off the foot of  Brazilian forward Tamara Queiroz. She scored in the 54th minute and then knocked in a free kick with five minutes to play for the final margin.

Butler had what could have been a penalty kick when Colleen Howland was tripped inside the box with 11 minutes to play. No foul was called and no penalty kick awarded

Iowa Central outshot Butler 17-5, with 11 shots on goal. Butler keeper Jami Reichenberger made nine saves in the contest, which is a season high. Her previous high was six in three different matches against Northern Oklahoma, Navarro and Schoolcraft.

"If we ran into somebody better than us, so be it," Butler coach Adam Hunter said. "And this happens and they're better than us, that's just life. It's just the way the game goes. Iowa Central was clearly better than we were tonight.

"I just told our kids it will sting a little bit but walk out with your heads up because two national tournaments, conference championship, final four. There's nothing to be ashamed about." 

Third seed Iowa Central (18-1) will play nationally No. 1-ranked, tournament top seed and host Eastern Florida (17-0) for the national title on Saturday.

"Amazing team we played against," Iowa Central coach Christiane Lessa said of Butler after the match. "All the respect, all the credit for them. Completely difficult to break through their defense."

Butler tied the 2011 and 2013 teams for the second-most wins in a season with 21, only behind the 2012 team that was 22-3. The Grizzlies won 17 straight matches between a loss to Navarro in Texas and the loss to Iowa Central in Florida.

The trip to nationals was the fifth straight for Butler, which is now 6-5-2 in national tournaments, with multple wins in the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.