The broken scoreboard wasn’t the only thing out of sync at the Butler Bowl Friday afternoon.
The Butler University men’s soccer team dug itself a 3-0 hole before falling to Bradley 4-1 in front of a large season-opening crowd.
The pre-season No. 21 Bulldogs (0-1) never were able to gain any sizable momentum after the Braves (2-0) scored just six minutes into the game on a free kick by senior forward Christian Meza.
The Braves’ second goal followed 10 minutes later, with a 35-yard strike from Bradley senior forward Brian Gaul. The goal snuck in the upper right corner of the net, and the Bulldogs seemed taken off guard by the bold strike.
“The second goal was just clutch,” senior defenseman JC Aikenhead said.
Down by a pair, the Bulldogs turned up the pressure for the remainder of the first half. But a turnover followed by a lob pass over Butler defenders forced sophomore goalkeeper Jon Dawson to come out of the box.
Gaul was able to chip it over Dawson to give the Braves a 3-0 lead.
Just six minutes later, however, junior forward Austin Oldham provided the Bulldogs and those in attendance with a glimmer of hope.
Oldham juggled the ball past two defenders, settled it on open space and fired a strike past the outstretched arms of Bradley’s sophomore goalkeeper Brian Billings and into the back of the net.
The goal pulled the Bulldogs within two before the half.
“Austin’s goal was a touch of magic,” Butler head coach Paul Snape said.
While Bradley countered the Bulldogs’ pressure with great goalkeeping, freshman defenseman Alexei Davies-Campbell delivered a fourth goal for the Braves in the 57th minute, putting the game out of reach for good.
While the 21-8 advantage in shots was one positive that the team could take away from the game, fouls and poor defending hurt the Bulldogs.
“Our biggest problems were lack of discipline on defense, too many fouls and not taking away their options,” Snape said.
Next the Bulldogs will face Snape’s former school, No. 9 Michigan.
“We just need to work on keeping the ball out of our net, defending and really bringing the intensity,” Aikenhead said.
Butler will face off against the Wolverines Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich., as part of the Michigan Invitational. The Bulldogs also will take on Oakland Sunday in the same invitational.