Horizon League honors junior Bulldog defender

Junior defender Matt Hedges was named the Horizon League Men’s Soccer Co-Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 20.

The Bulldogs, now ranked 12th by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, were led by Hedges’ outstanding performances in Wisconsin against Green Bay and Milwaukee, helping him earn the title.

Hedges collected game-winning goals in both of Butler’s wins.

On Sept. 22, Hedges scored the second goal in Butler’s 2-1 victory over Green Bay.

Two days later, Hedges guided the ball to the back of the net for the first goal in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 victory against Milwaukee.

At the same time Hedges’ defensive efforts helped Butler obtain its fourth shutout of the season.

The two goals give Hedges four for the season, three of which were game-winners.

Head coach Kelly Findley said he felt Hedges’ recent performance was an accurate reflection of his demeanor throughout his career.

“Matt is a great player,” Findley said. “He’s versatile and he does a great job leading by example.”
When asked to describe how he felt about receiving the award, Hedges said it isn’t an individual award.

“It really doesn’t say much about me,” Hedges said. “It’s about my teammates really, because normally I’m not scoring any goals.

“Without good service from them I’d just be sitting in the back.”

This season’s efforts currently place Hedges second on the team offensively, with nine points.

Hedges’ performance last week also landed him National Player of the Week honors from topdrawersoccer.com, as well as being named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.

Aside from the numerous accolades he has received because of his play, Hedges finds the example he puts forth for his teammates to be most valuable.

“I believe that just seeing somebody take the lead and step up is going to drive them to play better,” he said.

Findley shared Hedges’ sentiment.

“He just sets the tone for the program,” Findley said. “We always talk about getting better everyday and trying to be excellent in all things we do, whether it be on the field or off the field, and Matt clearly demonstrates that.

“If a guy that good is willing to work that hard than everybody else knows they better be ready to do the same.”

Hedges, a 6-foot-4-inch defender who hails from Carmel, Ind., has always held a leading position on the field for the Bulldogs.

Starting in all 20 matches his freshman year, Hedges recorded two goals and two assists on the season. His performance secured him a spot on the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team.

The following year, Hedges was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, placed on the All Horizon League First Tournament Team, the Adidas Gamecock Classic All-Tournament team and the Second NCAA All-Great Lakes Region Team.

That year, Hedges tied for second in game-winning goals amongst Horizon League players.

He finished third on the team in goals with five.

“He’s a captain this year and we expect him to lead this team,” Findley said.

Hedges looks forward to continued play and feels confident regarding the team’s performance thus far.

“Even in the games that we haven’t played well, we have still managed to win, which is a good sign especially with regards to our character,” he said.

It has become clear that not only Hedges, but also the rest of the team now shares the same outlook as it continues through the season.

“We just have to stay focused on our goals and play the way we’ve been playing,” Hedges said. “We can’t get outside of ourselves.

“We just have to stick to our principles and we’ll be absolutely fine.”

Hedges shared the honor with sophomore Eric Nock of Loyola University in Chicago, who recorded his first career hat trick in Loyola’s 3-0 victory over Cleveland State.

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