Butler soccer opens season with 3-1 win over NOK-Tonkawa

Butler soccer celebrates a first-half goal during Thursday's 3-1 season-opening win over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa. (Randy Smith/Butler CC Athletics)

Butler soccer kicked off their 2019 season with a dominating 3-1 victory over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa Thursday night at El Dorado's BG Products Veterans Sporst Complex.

The Grizzlies came out aggressive in the first half putting the pressure on the Mavericks offensively. Freshman forward Alyssa Stewart scored the first goal of the season, blasting a 30-yard left-footed shot over Tonkawa goalkeeper Madeline Kindred and into the upper-left corner of the goal at the 10:25 mark in the first half.

Butler continued to apply the pressure on the offensive side of the ball with another goal in the 33rd minute. Kourtnee Davis made a cross pass from the far corner to the 18-yard box to Brittan Murray, who stepped in front of a Tonkawa defender and chipped the ball up and under the crossbar for the goal.

Tonkawa's only shot on goal of the night resulted in a score for the Mavericks when Maddie Cochran skied a shot from nearly 40 yards out with under two minutes left in the first half. Cochran had a deflected ball fall near her feet, then booted a rainbow right-footed shot just over the outstretched arms of Grizzly goalkeeper Lexi Winkle. The shot would be the first and only shot the Mavericks got on the Butler goal.

Much of the same aggressive play by the Butler offense continued in the second half, as the Grizzlies had nine shots while holding the Mavericks without a shot in the final 45 minutes. 

Butler added its third and final goal of the evening in the 62nd minute, following a Mavericks foul which resulted in a Maizi Garwood free kick from the near sideline. Garwood assisted on a perfect shot towards the center of the box to a crashing Sandra Thiman, who headed the ball from 10 yards out and past Kindred for a 3-1 Grizzly advantage.

The Grizzlies finished the night with 16 total shots with nine shots on goal, while Tonkawa managed just one shot on goal. For Butler, Winkle and reserve keeper Angie Ojeda split time evenly in the contest, trading places in goal at halftime. 

Butler's win makes two straight over Tonkawa, after the Mavericks handed the Grizzlies a 3-2 season-opening home loss to start the 2017 season. 

The Grizzlies (1-0-0 overall) return to action this weekend with two non-conference neutral-site games to be played in Noble, Okla., at Noble High School. Butler will face Seminole State, Okla., on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., then take on No. 19 Hill, Texas in a 1:00 p.m. kickoff on Sunday. The Grizzlies ended Hill's season last year in Cleburne, Texas, with a 2-0 win in the Plains District Championship, allowing Butler to qualify for the NJCAA National Tournament.

Both games will be video streamed online at http://team1sports.com/ButlerGrizzlies.

NOTES: Butler improved to 14-4-1 overall all-time against Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa. Thursday's win makes two straight for Butler over Tonkawa, after the Mavericks handed the Grizzlies a 3-2 season-opening home loss to start the 2017 season and snap a Grizzly eight-game winning streak in the series. Butler won lastt year's road meeting in Tonkawa by a 4-0 score... Saturday's match against Seminole State will be the first time Butler has faced the Trojans, while the Grizzlies are 1-0-0 against Hill.