Kruger Strikes, Clutch Defensive Stands Push Butler Past Indiana, 2-1
Bloomington, Ind. - A pair of impressive goals by junior Molly Kruger put Butler ahead early in second period before a gutsy defensive stand late in the match preserved the advantage, as the Bulldogs scored a 2-1 victory over the host Hoosiers on Thursday (Sept. 18) evening.
Butler improves to 4-4 on the season while snapping a nine-match winless streak against Indiana that dates back to the 1997 campaign. IU, meanwhile, falls to 4-4.
"This was a great team win," head coach Tari St. John said. "We were in a good place as a team going into tonight's game. We've reached a new level of confidence as a program and it felt like it was going to be our time."
Kruger, a former Indiana standout, gave her former club fits all night long, finishing with a team-high five shots and drawing as many as three IU defenders at a time late in the match.
"I was very proud of the way Molly played tonight," St. John commented. "She kept her emotions in check and did the things she needed to do to help us win."
Butler took an early lead in the contest with a quick strike from Kruger just five and a half minutes in. Kenzie Kokta worked the ball up the right side of the field before crossing a pass in front of the 18-yard box to Carrie Twyman, who turned and fed the ball to Kruger. Kruger then sidestepped a defender to the right and fired a shot into the upper left corner for her third goal of the season.
The Bulldogs controlled the tempo for much of the remainder of the first period, with Kruger and Kokta each getting several good looks at the net.
The Butler backfield, meanwhile, kept the Hoosiers off-balance and out of their offensive third for the majority of the frame, allowing just one shot on goal.
Kruger wasted little time following the break to build upon the Bulldogs' lead. Barely a minute had passed into the second frame before a pass from Twyman found Kruger's feet on the right sideline 40 yards from the goal. After shaking a defender, she launched an arcing shot that eluded the outstretched reach of the IU net-minder to give Butler a 2-0 margin.
The lead appeared to be in jeopardy as the second half wore on, as the Hoosiers began to threaten on offense before cutting the difference in half in the 73rd minute on a nifty header off a cross into the box.
As the Hoosiers continued to pressure on offense, the Bulldogs dodged a huge bullet late in the frame, as a charging IU attacker drew goalkeeper Laura Baker out from the goal before sidestepping the Butler keeper and rolling a potential equalizer towards the net. Abbie Kaul played the hero, however, sprinting from the far left side and lunging feet first to clear the ball and preserve the lead.
Butler appeared to regain its composure following the play, clearing the ball out of their defensive third and keeping the Hoosiers from threatening until the clock ran out.
"Kaul, [Sarah] Phelps and Baker have been making big defensive plays for us in every game," St. John added. "It was nice for us to get a huge pay off for their efforts."
Baker picked up her fourth victory of the season in goal while making six saves, including five clutch stops in the second period.
Butler closes out its four-match road trip on Sunday (Sept. 21) when it takes on host Illinois State beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET in Normal, Ill.