Freshman Julian Cardona scored the lone goal of the match with
less than 14 minutes remaining to lift Butler to a 1-0 victory over
host UIC in a key Horizon League match at Flames Field in Chicago,
Ill., on Wednesday (Nov. 4). The victory moved the Bulldogs
one step closer to clinching their first league regular season
title since 2004.
Defense dominated the match, played in chilly 48 degrees weather. Both team attempted just six shots in the contest, and the two squads combined for just one shot on goal in the first half. Butler (12-2-1, 5-1-1 HL) finished with four shots on goal, while the Flames (6-5-6, 3-2-2 HL) wound up with just one.
Cardona broke the scoreless deadlock at 76:09 after a UIC turnover. Senior Kyle VondenBenken fed the ball to Cardona on the left side of the box, and the freshman forward fired a shot to the right post that eluded Flames’ goalkeeper Jovan Bubonja. The game-winner was Cardona’s fifth goal of the season.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 24 in this week’s coaches’ poll, attempted just two shots in the first 45 minutes and Bubonja stopped the lone shot on goal. Butler picked up the pace in the second half with four shots, including three on target. Junior Michael Clayton had two of Butler’s shot on goal, while sophomore Matt Hedges and Cardona had the other two.
Senior Fabian Knopfler went the distance in goal and recorded his fourth shutout of the season. Knopfler entered the match ranked first in the Horizon League and 23rd in the NCAA Division I in goals against average. He’s allowed seven goals in 11 matches this season.
The Bulldogs will close out the regular season at home against Wright State on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. (ET) at the Butler Bowl. It will be the final regular season contest for seven Butler seniors – Knopfler, VondenBenken, Nick Hegeman, Boris Gatzky, Austin Evans, Adam Burch and Jared Gillespie. A win would give the Bulldogs the Horizon League regular season title and the right to host the semifinals and finals of the 2009 Horizon League Championship, Nov. 13 & 15.