#5 Bulldogs Host Michigan State In NCAA Tournament

#5 Bulldogs Host Michigan State In NCAA Tournament

NCAA FIRST:  Butler will play an NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament match in the Butler Bowl for the first time when it hosts Michigan State in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship on Sunday, Nov. 21.  The national tournament match will start at 1 p.m. (ET) on Butler’s home field.  The Bulldogs, boasting a 16-0-3 record, were seeded No. 13 and received a first-round bye in this year’s tournament.  Michigan State (12-7-1) advanced to the second round with a 2-0 victory over Oakland on Thursday (Nov. 18).  Butler and Michigan State will be meeting for the second time in NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament play.  The Spartans captured the first meeting, 2-1, at Indiana in 2001.              

Butler is one of two unbeaten teams in the NCAA Division I.

NATIONAL TOURNAMENT:  Butler is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and for the sixth time overall.  The Bulldogs fell to 3-5-1 in all-time NCAA Tournament play with a 1-0 loss in the second round at Indiana last year.  It was Butler’s first NCAA appearance since 2001, when the Bulldogs faced Michigan State.  Butler has previously hosted one NCAA Tournament match (vs. Cincinnati in 1998) and two NCAA Tournament Play-In games (Central Connecticut State in 1995 and Howard in 1998).  All three of those matches were played at Butler’s Varsity Field.

LEAGUE CHAMPION:  Butler completed its Horizon League sweep by downing Green Bay in a Penalty Kick Shootout, 3-2, in the championship match of the 2010 Horizon League Men’s Soccer Tournament at the Butler Bowl.  Senior goalkeeper Fabian Knopfler came up with three stops in the Shootout to lift the Bulldogs to their first league tournament crown since 2001.  Butler entered the Horizon League Tournament as the top seed, after capturing the league regular season crown with an unbeaten, 7-0-1 record.   
ALL-TOURNAMENT:  The Bulldogs were represented by five players on the All-Tournament Team, announced following the league championship match.  Senior Ben Sippola, the 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year, was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and he was joined on the honor squad by teammates Fabian Knopfler, Matt Hedges, Julian Cardona and Austin Oldham.   

POLLING DATA:  Butler enters the NCAA Tournament with a “Top 10” ranking in all of the national college soccer polls.  The Bulldogs are ranked #5 by both Soccer America and Goal.com, while College Soccer News and Soccer Times have Butler at No. 6.  Butler is seventh in the Top Drawer Soccer Tournament 48 poll.  The Bulldogs continue to be ranked third in the Great Lakes Region, behind the nation’s top two teams, Louisville and Akron.    

BULLDOG BITS:  Butler seniors Conner Burt and Ben Sippola were named to the 2010 ESPN University Division Men’s Soccer Academic All-America Team.  It was the second straight year that Burt was selected and the first time for Sippola...Senior goalkeeper Fabian Knopfler was named Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Month for October.  Knopfler, a marketing major and honor student, was 7-0-1 with three shutouts during the month...Butler is ranked sixth in the NCAA Division I in goals against average (0.5), seventh in total goals (41) and eighth in scoring offense (2.16)...Fabian Knopfler ranks sixth in Division I in goals against average (0.527).  Knopfler leads the Horizon League in shutouts (8).  He stands second on Butler’s single season list for shutouts, 0.5 behind Alan Placek (1997)...Senior Ben Sippola leads the Horizon League in assists (9).  He’s tied with Jeff Kurtz (1989) for fourth place on Butler’s single season assist chart.