JOSHUA DOERING | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Butler men’s soccer team will look to build upon their Big East tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance last season as they start their new campaign.
The team finished last season with an overall record of 13-5-2, going 6-3 in Big East play. Butler entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 15 overall seed and were eliminated in a shootout by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the second round.
“Last year was a good year for us,” head coach Paul Snape said. “I think the main thing is can we repeat and can we be consistently good. I think everybody can have a good year, but for us, it’s can we focus on being an even better defensive team.”
The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Big East in the preseason Coaches’ Poll and were ranked in all three major national polls, College Soccer News (No. 20), Top Drawer Soccer (No. 24) and the United Soccer Coaches’ Poll (No. 25) to start the season.
Despite losing 2016 Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year David Goldsmith and All-Big East second team honoree Mitch Ostrowski, head coach Paul Snape returns the rest of the key pieces from last season.
“Last year, there was tons of belief,” Snape said. “We respect every opponent we set up against but there was no fear. I think this year we have to carry that over.”
Sophomore midfielder Lewis Suddick and junior midfielder Jared Timmer were both named to the preseason All-Big East team. Suddick scored 11 goals last season and Timmer paced the Big East with nine assists.
However, a season that began with incredible promise for Timmer was cut short by a season-ending injury.
Late in the first half of the game Monday night, Timmer was stretchered off the field. He was diagnosed with a broken fibula.
“We’ve lost one of the best players in the Big East and our inspirational captain,” Snape said. “It’s devastating for the young man and it’s really hurtful for the team but there was no malicious tackle. It was just one of those one-in-a-million occurrences.”
The team will look for other players to step into larger roles to make up for Timmer’s absence.
“We’ve got a collection of individuals who can all add something different,” Snape said. “We don’t have two players who are the same.”
“Eric Leonard is one of the hardest working guys in all of college soccer,” Snape said. “He’s a warrior. He’s always there. He’s selfless.”
King and Savona hail from Michigan, Harvey from Indiana, Woods from Texas, Keener from Ohio, and Ivern from Catalonia, Spain, by way of Montverde Academy in Florida.
In their season opener last Friday, the Bulldogs defeated the University of Illinois at Chicago 1-0 in overtime at the Sellick Bowl thanks to a Timmer header off of a free kick by Suddick.
The team then traveled to face the University of Louisville, who was nationally ranked in the top 11 in all three preseason polls. The Cardinals scored a goal late in the first half and held on for a 1-0 victory.
Butler will play four more non-conference games before kicking off Big East action by hosting Creighton University in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship game on Sept. 16.
The Bulldogs will have a chance to avenge last season’s NCAA Tournament loss when they travel to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Oct. 10. In-state rival Indiana University, currently ranked fifth in the country by Top Drawer Soccer, comes to the Sellick Bowl on Oct. 18.
“It’s nice to get a couple of the big games at home,” Snape said. “We know we’re very strong at home.
Butler will look to get back on track with two games this weekend in Bloomington, Indiana. They will take on the University of South Florida on Friday, Sept. 1, followed by a game against the University of San Francisco on Sunday, Sept. 3.
Both games are scheduled to start at 5 p.m.