Upperclass CDM pairing leads Butler to win

Butler women's soccer

Photo credit: Butler women’s soccer

INDIANAPOLIS — A double binary star system exists when two stars orbit around the same center of mass. Sounds a bit like a successful central defensive midfield tandem, doesn’t it? That’s precisely the luxury the Butler women’s soccer team has circling the middle of the pitch this season.

Senior Brenna Pawelkowski and junior Madison Toth showed their synchronized chemistry in leading the Bulldogs to a 1-0 win against Eastern Michigan on Friday evening at the Sellick Bowl. The game winner came on a beautiful corner kick service and header from sophomore Amanda Kowalski to redshirt sophomore Annika Schmidt in the 60th minute, but the story of the night was the efficiency and field generalship of the holding midfielders.

Pawelkowski and Toth bossed the middle third, regularly disrupting the Eagles’ attack and cleanly distributing to spark their own offense. The duo was never spaced too far apart. A 20-yard rope could’ve been connected to each’s waist and the result might’ve been the same.

Junior Paige Monaghan, listed as a forward on the official team roster, continued to impress in her new role as a wide midfielder. She started at right midfielder before shifting to the left flank to begin the second half. Later she returned to the right to keep the Eastern Michigan defense off balance. Monaghan was equally dangerous on both sides of the pitch.

For the Eagles, No. 10 — literally and figuratively — Sabrina McNeill stood out as a constant thorn in the Bulldogs’ side. The diminutive 5-4 attacker packs a skill set well beyond her stature that was on full display Friday. But with the binary star pairing of Toth and Pawelkowski orbiting around her, McNeill found space relatively difficult to come by.

The Bulldogs (3-1-1) will return to the Sellick Bowl on Sunday to face Cleveland State for their third consecutive home match after starting the season with three straight road games. And speaking of three, they’ll also carry a three-game winning streak into the contest.

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Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.

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