TOPEKA, Kan. - For the sixth consecutive season, Butler soccer advances to the NJCAA National Tournament after winning the Region VI title with a 4-1 victory over Johnson County on Friday at Hummer Park.
The second-ranked Grizzlies (20-2-0) set a school record with their 20th consecutive win, breaking the mark set by the 2012 team. With the victory, Butler wins the regional title for the fifth straight season and seventh overall in the program's history. Three of the Grizzlies' last four championship wins have come against the Cavaliers.
Butler jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the midway point of the first half, with freshman midfielder Katie Hartman scoring two of the goals.
Sophomore forward Colleen Howland put the Grizzlies up with the opening goal less than three minutes into the contest. Howland scored with the right foot just outside the six-yard box.
Hartman followed with consecutive goals at the 13th and 24th minute - both from 20 yards out. The first goal came on a right-footed blast from the outside right corner of the box that went over Johnson keeper Mengyu Li. Hartman came back from the same distance towards the top of the box to give Butler a 3-0 lead.
The Cavaliers got on the scoreboard in the 36th minute when a deflected shot off Butler keeper Jami Reichenberger landed right to Johnson's Sydney Foster, who scored into the left side of the net.
In the 62nd minute, Butler added an insurance goal on a Lauren Allan penalty kick. The opportunity was set up when Howland was pulled down by the jersey in the box. Allan's kick was partially blocked, but crossed the line on a backspin before Li could secure the save.
Butler will await national tournament seeding before participating in pool play, which begins on Nov. 14 in Melbourne, Fla. The Grizzlies are expected to be one of the top seeds in the 12-team field.
NOTES: Butler improves to 19-6-1 all-time against Johnson County and have won 13 straight against the Cavaliers. The Grizzlies are now 7-1 vs. Johnson in postseason play, including a 4-1 mark in Region VI title games... Butler is 7-3 all-time in Region VI title appearances.