CLEBURNE, Texas — Butler soccer advanced to the NJCAA Plains District title game with a 5-0 semifinal victory over Rose State (Okla.) on Friday at The Depot at Cleburne Station.
Freshman forward Elise Leidersten scored a goal and had two assists, while freshman midfielder Sadie Samenus added a goal and an assist to help the 11th-ranked Grizzlies (17-4-0 overall) to Saturday's championship game. Butler will face No. 18 Hill (Texas) in the title match at 4:00 p.m. for a automatic berth to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Butler did not take long to get on the scoreboard, as Leidersten assisted on a Paige Achey goal just less than three minutes into the contest. Melonie Baca gained possession of the ball near the midfield circle and passed upfield to Leidersten, who then found Achey open to the left. Achey edged past two defenders to receive the ball, then beat Raiders goalkeeper Adrianna Schroeder for her 20th goal of the season.
The Grizzlies went up 2-0 in the 28th minute off a free kick set piece just outside the penalty box. As Butler ran misdirection with two decoys, Leidersten passed to her left to an open Achey, who then found Thiman centered in front of the goal for an easy tap-in score.
Kaylee Swanson scored her first goal of the season just before halftime after intercepting a Rose State pass, then booting the ball from 25 yards out into the upper right-corner of the goal for a 3-0 Butler lead.
Butler added two late second-half goals from Samenus and Leidersten to pull away from the Raiders.
In the 78th minute, Rose State headed out a Brooklyn Barclay corner kick right to an open Samenus just inside the 18-yard box. With a raised right foot, Samenus alertly hit the deflection back inside the right post.
Leidersten capped the scoring with her team-high 24th goal of the season came in the 85th minute. Samenus assisted on the play after moving into the penalty area by sending a ball to Leidersten. Centered in front of the 6-yard goal box, Leidersten made a right-footed one-touch shot that was deflected upwards by Schroeder and into the net.
The Grizzlies outshot Hill 13-5 in the contest, while Butler goalkeepers Bethany Reeves and Lexi Winkle combined on the shutout. Reeves made her 21st start of the season, while Reeves subbed into the contest late in the second half with Butler holding a three-goal lead.
Butler will now turn their focus to Region V winner Hill for the right to advance to the national tournament, which will be held in Foley, Ala., on Nov. 12-17. Hill (13-1-0 overall) edged Barton by a 3-2 score in Friday's other semifinal match.
NOTES: Butler improves to 5-0-0 overall all-time against Rose State and registered its first victory over the Raiders in postseason play... The Grizzlies are now 2-2-1 overall in district postseason play... Achey matched her goal count from her 2015 All-American season. After a two-year hiatus and a return to the Grizzlies, Achey now has 40 career goals and is four goals away from tying Alyssa Miller (2011-12) for fifth all-time on the Butler career leaderboard. Heading into Friday's match, Achey was tied with Brittney Lawrence (2013-14) for sixth place.