INDIANAPOLIS, IND.. -- For just the second time this season,
Butler failed to record a victory in a men’s soccer
match. But the #6-ranked Bulldogs, who battled to a 0-0 tie
with Cleveland State at the Butler Bowl on Friday (Nov. 5), still
finished the regular season as one of just two unbeaten teams in
the NCAA Division I.
Butler (15-0-2, 7-0-1 Horizon League) and Cleveland State (8-9-1, 4-3-1 HL) played to a scoreless draw through 90 minutes of regulation play and through two ten-minute overtime periods. The Bulldogs had a commanding 21-8 advantage in shots in the match and a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal. Both teams had a shot on goal in overtime.
“I thought Cleveland State had a good game plan. They man-marked Ben Sippola, who I think is a candidate for Player of the Year, and that made it difficult for him to play,” said Butler Head Coach Kelly Findley after the match. “Overall, I thought we were pretty steady. We created enough chances to win the game. They’re ‘keeper was outstanding, and I think that was the difference.”
Sippola, Butler’s leading scorer and the second-leading scorer in the Horizon League, did not have a shot in the match. Sophomore Julian Cardona led the Bulldogs with five total shots, including one shot on goal, while senior Kyle Pateros wound up with three shots, including two on goal.
Cleveland State goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who helped lead the Vikings to a victory over No. 1-ranked Akron earlier in the week, had seven saves in the match, including a couple on point-blank shots. Butler’s Fabian Knopfler had one save and the Bulldogs had one team save.
“We didn’t bury our chances and unfortunately we go away with a tie today, but I’m pleased with the shutout and I’m pleased for our seniors to complete an unbeaten regular season,” noted Findley. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win, but at the same time I think Cleveland State is a pretty good team.”
The Cleveland State match was the final regular season contest for 11 Butler seniors, Troy Blewitt, Conner Burt, Jacob Capito, Michael Clayton, Brett Heinz, Knopfler, Dustin Mares, Pateros, Nick Powell, Matt Sall and Sippola. The stellar senior class helped the Bulldogs to a 51-13-12 record, two Horizon League championships and a berth in the NCAA Tournament over the past four seasons. This year's unbeaten regular season record is the first in school history.
The Bulldogs, who also tied non-league foe IUPUI (0-0) last month, became just the second team in Horizon League history (Evansville was the first in 1990) to complete the regular season with an unbeaten record and the 10th team to finish with an unbeaten league mark. Top-seeded Butler will host the Horizon League Men’s Soccer Championship on Nov. 12 and 14.