Bulldogs Advance Past Valpo In PKs

VALPARAISO, Ind. - The Butler women's soccer team will play on. After 110 minutes and eight rounds of PKs, the Bulldogs moved past Valparaiso and into Friday's Horizon League Soccer Championship semifinal. The match officially is a 2-2 tie, and Butler will play at No. 1 seed Milwaukee this weekend.

Butler won the PK rounds 5-4 after Valpo's final shot hit the post. No. 6 seed BU will be at regular season champion Milwaukee Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Detroit and Wright State will play in the early semifinal.

"It was such an emotional swing for us, when you hear that noise when the shot goes off the post and the kids rush the field," head coach Tari St. John said.  "It is a tough way to lose, you have to feel for Valpo. It was a really good day for us. Hopefully we can take that momentum and carry it to Milwaukee."

Valpo had two chances to win in PKs. After four rounds, the PKs were 3-3 when BU missed. A Valpo score would've clinched it, but sophomore Julie Burton made a stop to keep the Bulldogs alive. The Crusaders had another chance with the PKs at 4-4, but Kelsey Draper missed wide. Junior Rachael Melendez drilled her try to put Butler ahead 5-4. Valpo's Tracy Roos then hit the post with her try, sending the Bulldogs to the semifinal.

"I told Julie to make one save for us. It's a shooter's game," St. John said. "The second save she made was very difficult. At that point, once she made two saves, she forced the Valpo to be perfect. JB definitely did her part for us."

On the offensive side of the PKs, reserve freshman Caroline Kowal had perhaps as big an impact as anyone. With the penalty kicks at 3-3 after five rounds, Kowal scored to give Butler a short-lived 4-3 lead. Valpo ended up matching it, but Kowal's successful try kept Butler's season alive.

"Caroline can strike the ball really well, and for her to step up just shows the character of this team," St. John said. "Everyone had a role today."

The first 40 minutes of the afternoon were packed with scoring, as Valparaiso went up 2-0 in the first 19:25. Luisa DeSario scored at the 17:52 mark and Casey Pedersen scored on a long shot at 19:25 to put BU in an early hole.

The Bulldogs battled back with a pair of goals in the next 20 minutes. Junior Katie Griswold had a shot stopped by Valpo keeper Kristen Manski but junior Rachel Scott was there to score the rebound at 28:16 to make it 2-1. At the 39:32 mark, Colosimo converted on a free kick to tie the score 2-2.

"I was happy to see our team go down to goals and be able to come back," St. John said. "It was in the first half against the wind and it was so good to see where our team is in postseason play. It doesn't matter if you go down one goal or two goals, you keep fighting." 

As the scoring pace was frantic in the first 40 minutes, there was no scoring over the following 70 minutes. Valpo hit the crossbar in the first overtime, but the Bulldogs did not break as the two teams played into the dramatic PK rounds.

The match featured 37 shots and 37 fouls between the two Indiana private schools. Burton made seven saves to Manski's four. Colosimo had a season-high five shots and Griswold and Kotsakis each added four tries. Mikki Nuccio of Valparaiso had five shots, including four on goal.