NOBLE, Okla. – Butler sophomore defender Sandra Thiman headed in a game-winning goal in the 73rd minute to help the eighth-ranked Grizzlies defeat No. 19 Hill (Texas) on Sunday afternoon at Noble High School.
The win helped Butler (2-1 overall) rebound following a 1-0 loss to Seminole State, Okla., on Saturday at the same site.
Thiman's header gave the Grizzlies its first win over an NJCAA-ranked squad this season. The goal came after Hill was called for a tripping foul near the far sideline. Scotland freshman midfielder Rachel Wolecki hit a 25-yard free kick into the box, where Thiman headed the ball downwards past Hill goalkeeper Juliana Gomez and into the goal.
"I just ran to get the ball," said Thiman about the game-winner. "We've had some really good free kicks and corner kicks (this season), so just to a get a head on it and win it, it means a lot."
Butler will attempt to build off of Sunday's momentum into a key matchup with No. 4 Eastern Florida State, which will be played Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Wichita's Stryker Complex. The matchup is part of a three-day, eight-team Classic featuring some of the top NJCAA women's soccer programs – including six national tournament qualifiers from last year.
All eight teams will be in action on Saturday, kicking off at noon with Laramie County (Wyo.) against Lewis & Clark (Ill). Rose State (Okla.) and Iowa Western face at 2:30 p.m., then Navarro (Texas) and Hutchinson play at 5:00 p.m.
On Sunday, Laramie battles Iowa Western at noon, then Rose State and Hutchinson square off at 2:30 p.m. The classic finishes up Monday with two games starting both at 9:00 a.m., with Butler playing Lewis & Clark, who handed the Grizzlies one of the two pool play losses at the NJCAA tournament last season. Eastern Florida State will face Navarro in the other matchup.
#8 Butler 2, #19 Hill 1 – Sunday
Both Grizzly goals against Hill came via the international flavor, as Wolecki opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a 30-yard strike. Wolecki hit the ball off the right post, then deflected off the back of Hill keeper Juliana Gomez – who initially dove to save the ball before it hit the post – and into the net. Emily Breault assisted on the goal.
Hill's Jami Anderson scored five minutes later to even the match at 1-1 on a breakaway goal off a feed from Damaris Cruz, who slotted the ball past a pair of Butler defenders. Anderson got the ball before a diving attempt from goalkeeper Lexi Winkle, then hit a sliding shot 10 yards on an open net.
The game remained tied until the 73rd minute, when Thiman headed in the eventual game-winning goal. Thiman now has two goals on the season, both headers of set pieces.
Butler outshot Hill 13-8 and had more shots on goal (10-4) than the Rebels. Grizzly goalkeeper Lexi Winkle and reserve keeper Angie Ojeda each played one half of action, with both keepers making two saves each.
Saturday's win over Hill moves Butler 2-0 all-time against the Rebels. The Grizzlies defeated Hill in last year's NJCAA Plains District Championship in Cleburne, Texas by a 2-0 score, which allowed Butler to advance to the national tournament.
Seminole State 1, Butler 0 - Saturday
Seminole's Amaya Grace scored the lone goal Saturday on a penalty kick in the 83rd minute to hand Butler its first loss of the season. Grace's penalty goal came after Grizzly freshman Karter Corini was whistled for an errant handball in the box.
The Trojans controlled the game for most of the duration, as they outshot Butler by a wide 18-5 margin. Seminole had just five shots on goal to Butler's 3.
Grizzly goalkeeper Lexi Winkle played the full 90 minutes and made four saves on five shots.
Sunday's meeting was the first time Butler and Seminole State has faced off.