Redshirt senior defender Tommy Visser started all 19 games for the Bulldogs in 2022. Collegian file photo.
CALEB DENORME | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR | email@example.com
The Butler men’s soccer team begins the season looking to build on last year’s 10-6-3 record. The Dawgs are returning key pieces to go along with new faces as they get ready to be tested against some of the top programs in the country. They will strive to improve on last year’s Big East Semifinal appearance and challenge for the conference crown.
After playing three exhibition games in which the final scores were not reported, Butler began their regular season push on Aug. 24 against the No. 24 ranked St. Louis Billikens.
Sophomore Palmer Ault, a Noblesville native and member of the Indy 11 USL Academy, opened his scoring tab in the 13th minute. A long cross from junior Jan Quispel found the head of Ault, who powered it home to put Butler ahead.
St. Louis stormed back in the second half, netting two goals and ultimately coming away with the victory in both squads’ first regular season game.
The Bulldogs hit the road again on Aug. 26 to take on the Cougars of Southern Illinois University Evansville hoping to pick up their first win of the young season. It would not go Butler’s way though, falling 3-1 to the Cougars. Ault picked up his second goal of the season, but it was not enough to secure the win for Butler.
Playing on the road twice to start out the season, once against a top 25 ranked team, is challenging for any team. Despite this, the Dawgs have some serious potential to be dangerous this year.
Ault will be leading the line after coming off an impressive season, registering 10 goals and six assists last year. His stellar start to his college career landed him on the All-Big East First Team, and he was named the Big East Freshman of the Year unanimously. This season he was named Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year as well. Look for the Bulldogs offense to lean on him this season.
Another player to watch for in attack is redshirt senior DJ Hooks. The Michigan native had a career high seven goals last season, along with three assists. Hooks will bring a maturity and veteran’s presence to the front line that will prove invaluable down the stretch. The combination of Hooks and Ault could prove to be lethal for opponents who travel to the Bud and Jackie Sellick Bowl this year.
In midfield the Bulldogs will showcase a mix of veterans and new arrivals this year, highlighted by Quispel and fifth-year Hemi Nasser. Nasser brings a level of comfort and experience to the middle of the pitch, starting 38 games in the past five years for the Bulldogs while scoring six goals and assisting five. Quispel, a native of Emmen in the Netherlands, has played for Dutch clubs such as Emmen U21, PEC Zwolle U21 and VV Emmen. Those two will be pulling the strings regularly for Butler in midfield.
In the back, the Bulldogs will have returning redshirt seniors Tommy Visser and Graham Rieg. Those two will look to limit chances for the opposition in front of redshirt senior Caleb Norris. Despite being a senior, Norris has only registered 45 minutes of match play prior to 2023. In spite of this, the Dawgs defense is in safe hands of players who have been with the program for many years.
The Bulldogs’ schedule this year features a variety of matchups ranging from Big East battles to clashes with some of the top programs in the country. The Sept. 9 matchup at home against Ohio State for Youth Night and Project 44 will be a game that no fan of Butler soccer will want to miss. The Dawgs then go on the road 10 days later to take on Big 10 squad and in-state rival Indiana University in what will be a huge game against one of the top men’s soccer programs in the country. The last regular season game will also be one to watch when Butler takes on Big East newcomer Akron Zips, another nationally well-respected men’s soccer program.
Despite the early season losses, the Dawgs look poised for a strong season and a deep postseason run into the Big East Tournament and beyond. They certainly have the talent and experience, now they just have to put it all together.