Nationally ranked teams abound at Butler

KYLE BEERY | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

Butler athletics is most  often recognized for its strong men’s basketball program.

This fall, though, three other Bulldog teams are taking their own turns in the spotlight.

The women’s cross country team as well as the men’s and women’s soccer teams are all nationally ranked.

The men’s soccer team (7-1-1) is ranked No. 16 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll after wins over Indiana University and Villanova.

The women’s soccer team (7-2-2) sat at No. 25 in last week’s Soccer America Women’s Top 25, while the women’s cross country team is No. 29 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll.

The women’s cross country team had a successful weekend, taking third place at the Roy Griak Invitational, behind No. 5 Arizona and No. 12 Michigan State.

While the women’s soccer team dropped out of the polls, sophomore Sophie Maccagnone said the team is looking to get back in the rankings.

“The rankings are actually a really big deal with our team,” Maccagnone said. “It’s always been a goal of ours to be a top 25 team, and getting that ranking meant a lot. It showed that all of our hard work in practice paid off.”

Maccagnone said the recent losses will help the team to work harder to achieve its goal.

“We have to come out stronger and tougher,” Maccagnone said. “Especially with the Big East. We have to stay focused and get back in the rankings.”

Cross country coach Matt Roe said what matters most is performance, but rankings are certainly a nice thing to boast about.

“Rankings matter for recruiting because you can say, ‘Hey, we’re one of the best teams in the country. Here’s where we rank,’” Roe said. “People want to identify with someone or something that is perceived as elite.”

Roe’s squad, now a member of the cross country powerhouse Big East, joins Providence (No. 1 and 2012 national runner-up), Georgetown (No. 6) and Villanova (No. 11) in the poll.

“They’re all good teams,” Roe said. “This is arguably the toughest conference in the country.”

Roe said the women’s team has been ranked sporadically throughout his tenure at Butler, including each year they’ve made an appearance at the national meet in 2004, 2005 and 2012.

Men’s soccer coach Paul Snape said the Bulldogs enjoy the rankings but are focusing on one game at a time.

“I think it’s nice to get the recognition, but our main focus is winning each game coming up,” Snape said. “We want a real good record come the end of the season to get an at-large bid if we don’t win the conference.”

Other Big East teams in the men’s soccer poll include Creighton (No. 3) and Georgetown (No. 12).

Freshman David Goldsmith echoed his coach, saying the team remains focused on winning but takes pride in the ranking.

“You don’t really focus on [the ranking],” Goldsmith said. “It’s in the back of our minds, but winning games and winning the conference are most important.”

Goldsmith said having multiple ranked teams enhances the atmosphere on campus.

“It’s always good for schools to have teams ranked,” Goldsmith said. “It creates a lot of school spirit.”

The women’s soccer team opens its Big East home schedule Thursday against No. 10 Georgetown.

The next meet for the women’s cross country team is Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational.

Goldsmith and the Bulldogs continue Big East play Saturday at the Butler Bowl against DePaul at 7 p.m.

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