ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. – Butler soccer had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 road loss at Cowley in Tuesday's regular season finale.
Butler (11-5-1 overall, 7-4-1 conference) received game-tying goals in the second half from Maizi Garwood and Rachel Wolecki in the second half. Manuela Oliveira scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute for Cowley, who clinched its first Jayhawk East title outright with the victory.
With a third-place finish in the East, Butler has its lowest conference finish since 2010, as the Grizzlies have won seven of the last eight conference titles and had a runner-up finish in 2014.
Butler will turn its attention to the postseason, where they will head to Jayhawk West runner-up Hutchinson for Saturday's Region VI quarterfinal round. Butler has won seven of the last meetings with Hutchinson, but the teams have not played each other since Oct. 16, 2015, when the Grizzlies won a 3-2 regular-season contest in Hutchinson. The Jayhawk Conference then split into two divisions and have not faced each other in the Region VI playoffs since 2014. Kickoff from Hutch's Salthawk Soccer Complex is at 2:00 p.m.
If Butler wins Saturday, the Grizzlies would face the Cowley/Dodge City quarterfinal winner in Thursday's Region VI semifinals. Cowley hosts Dodge on Sunday at 2:00 p.m., while the other quarterfinal matchups - Johnson County (East 4) at Cloud County (West 1); Barton (West 3) at Kansas City Kansas (East 2) - are scheduled for Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Both semifinals will be played at the remaining higher seeds, with the winners advancing to the NJCAA Plains District semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 6 in Wichita.
Against Cowley, Butler fell behind 1-0 in the first half in the 32nd minute, as the Tigers took advantage of an errant defensive header directed backwards towards the Grizzlies' goal. Cowley's Michaela Seahorn gained possession of the ball on the left side, then hammered a shot off the top of the crossbar. Natalia Lima secured the deflection from the right side, then blasted a shot off the left post and into the net.
Butler switched up its attack to start the second half, which resulted in a Maizi Garwood equalizer goal in the 48th minute. From about 35 yards out, Garwood received a center pass from Emily Breault and put a shot on goal that bounced just in front of the 6-yard box, up high off the hands of Cowley keeper Lotta Dufva and into the goal.
Cowley answered back with five minutes later with a header from Sofia Gil off a Francisca Valenzuela corner kick, taking a 2-1 lead over the Grizzlies.
Butler took advantage of another misplayed ball by Dufva to tie the contest at 2-2 in the 65th minute. A free kick from roughly 40 yards out by Garwood deflected off of Dufva in front of the 6-yard box. With Butler sending multiple players to crash the box, the ball went right to Rachel Wolecki for an easy goal.
Cowley scored the eventual game-winner from 25 yards out on a Oliveira shot from the left side, after receiving a pass back from Lima.
Cowley, who won its first match ever over Butler in a 2-1 overtime victory in El Dorado on Sept. 7, swept the regular-season series from the Grizzlies. The sweep marks Butler's first-ever against a conference opponent in the program's history and the first consecutive losses to a conference school since 2011, when the Grizzlies lost the 2010 and 2011 meetings against Hutchinson.
NOTES: Butler is 16-2-0 all-time against Cowley. The Tigers' win is the first home win over Butler, who leads the series 7-1-0 in games played at Arkansas City.