T-Birds fall to No. 14 Butler in second round of Region VI Playoffs, finishes 15-3 on the season

Cloud County finishes the 2018 season with a 15-3 overall record following a 2-0 loss to No. 14 Butler on Saturday in the Region VI Playoffs
Cloud County finishes the 2018 season with a 15-3 overall record following a 2-0 loss to No. 14 Butler on Saturday in the Region VI Playoffs

EL DORADO, Kansas — In a rematch of last year's Region VI semi-final, the Cloud County Community College and Butler Community College women's soccer teams squared off again on Saturday in a win-or-go-home Region VI Playoffs matchup.

Cloud County ended Butler's run of seven straight national tournament appearances with its upset of the Grizzlies last season.

Unfortunately for the T-Birds, No. 14 ranked Butler didn't budge on its home field Saturday in El Dorado as the Grizzlies improve to 14-0 all-time in home playoff games with a 2-0 win to advance to next weekend's Plains District Tournament.

"It was a heartbreaker," said Cloud County head coach Charles Long. "But Butler is a very good team and it played well. On our side, I thought we missed a couple goal-scoring opportunities. It just wasn't our day. But I am proud of the girls for fighting until the end and not giving up in a hostile environment. They played hard and left it all on the field."

After the two teams played each other to a draw in the first half, Butler (16-4 overall) opened the game's scoring in the 51st minute when a lead pass was mishandled in the back row and sprung Butler sophomore Paige Achey for a one-on-one opportunity.

Achey would add an insurance goal with 21 minutes remaining after winning a spring to a lead pass up the right wing.

"Butler's speed was a massive issue," Long said. "Their No. 10 (Elise Leidersten) and No. 13 (Achey) were very good players with a lot of speed. We had a few mistakes and that's just part of the game, unfortunately."

Cloud County (15-3 overall) had a golden chance to get back in the game with 12 minutes remaining when freshman forward Fernanda Peinado, Cloud County's leading goal scorer this season with 18 goals, settled a pass in the box and cut to her right but fired a shot that just clipped the crossbar.

The Grizzlies finished with a 13-6 shot advantage; the first time the T-Birds have been outshot in 18 games this season.

In net, sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Cordice recorded four saves and will finish the season 8-1 overall with a 0.39 goals against average in 10 total appearances after converting to goalkeeper from the midfield.

Cloud County will now say goodbye to 16 sophomores that went 30-7-1 over the last two seasons after the program was reinstated prior to the 2016-17 school year.

This current crop of sophomores, which includes 2017 All-Region players in Joana Villanova and Ingrid Castro, helped deliver a KJCCC West title, Region VI championship and the program's first ever NJCAA national tournament appearance a season ago during their time in Concordia.

"I told the sophomores they were awesome, congratulated them and told them that they have set the stage for the future," Long said. "I told them I'll help them as best I can to find four-year school for next year. They're part of the Cloud County family and I hope they remember us because they set the foundation."