INDIANAPOLIS - Junior Ben Sippola broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second half and senior Boris Gatzky added the eventual game-winner less than four minutes later to lift No. 1 seed Butler to a 2-1 victory over No. 4 seed Cleveland State in the second semifinal match of the 2009 Horizon League Men's Soccer Championship at the Butler Bowl.
The Bulldogs will meet No. 2 seed Green Bay in the championship match S unday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. Butler advances to the league tournament final for the first time since 2003.
Sippola's goal came on Butler's 15th shot of the match and ended a long string of near-misses for the Bulldogs, as BU controlled play throughout the contest. Butler (14-2-1) had a 14-3 shots advantage in the first half and it was just a matter of time before the Dogs found the back of the net.
Sippola's tally, his second of the season, came off a pass from teammate Michael Clayton. Senior Kyle VondenBenken also picked up an assist on the goal, which came at 49:31. The goal ended Butler's long drought against Cleveland State, as Butler didn't scored on the Vikings the last two times the teams played.
The Bulldogs (14-2-1) made it 2-0 less than four minutes later on a penalty kick by senior Boris Gatzky, his team-high seventh goal of the season. BU received the PK after a Cleveland State defender pulled down a Bulldog attacker in the box.
CSU, which finishes 2009 with a 7-8-4 record, answered in the 77th minute to make things interesting. Marco DiFranco scored on a shot that hit the crossbar and deflected into the net to cut the Bulldog lead to 2-1. Slavisa Ubiparipovic, Cleveland State's leading scorer, assisted on the play.
The Vikings would not find the equalizer however, as Butler managed to kill the clock.
Butler finished with a 20-6 advantage in shots, including 7-3 in shots on goal. BU also had a 9-4 edge in corner kicks.
Gatzky finished with a match-high six shots, with three on goal. Sippola attempted three shots, and four other Bulldogs had two. Fabian Knopfler made two saves and played all 90 minutes in goal.
The win over the Vikings is Butler's 14th, tied for the third most victories in a single season. It is also the team's highest win total since the 1998 squad went 19-5-1.