June 20, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - With one of the top recruiting classes in the region, the Bulldogs will return to the field in 2007 with quite a task in front of them, as Butler head coach Tari St. John announced a challenging fall schedule that will feature eight teams ranked in the top-15 in the region at the end of last season, including four of the nation's top 30.
Eight of the Bulldogs foes this year were listed among the top 15 teams in the Great Lakes Region at the end of last season, according to Soccer Buzz Magazine.
"The type of schedule we have this fall is exactly what our team needs right now," St. John said. "The mentality of our team is that we want to win, and we want the opportunity to prove ourselves against some of the best. This fall we will be afforded that opportunity."
The Bulldogs open the slate with an exhibition contest at home against Eastern Illinois before getting their final pre-season tune-up in Champaign, Ill. with an exhibition showing against Illinois, which finished the 2006 season ranked No. 16 in the nation and second in the Great Lakes Region.
The regular season kicks off with five-straight road games and three-straight at opponents which were regionally-ranked in 2006. Butler heads to Columbus, Ohio on Aug. 31 to face Ohio State (No. 9) before turning to Muncie, Ind. for a contest at Ball State (No. 14) on Sept. 2. A week later (Sept. 9), the Bulldogs battle Louisville, which was ranked No. 27 in the nation and No. 3 in the region.
Contests at Indiana State and Miami (Ohio) conclude the five-game stretch away from Indianapolis before the Bulldogs welcome Indiana, ranked No. 10 in the region last year, to Kuntz Stadium for the home opener on Sept. 19.
"Not only will our non-conference games test our abilities but it will ultimately prepare us for the most important part of our season - conference play," St. John continued. "In the last three years, I've seen our conference get better and better. There are not too many mid-major conferences that have the ability to send two teams to the NCAA tournament. We will need to prepare mentally and physically for every game on the schedule."
After a home match against Toledo on Sept. 23, Butler opens the Horizon League slate with its only home game of the year in the Butler Bowl on Sept. 28 against UW-Milwaukee, which finished 2006 ranked 29th in the nation and fourth in the region.
A stop at rookie league member Valparasio on Sept. 30 preludes an Oct. 5 trip to Wright State, which finished 2006 ranked 11th in the region. The Bulldogs upended the Raiders in the first round of the Horizon League Championship last season.
Butler returns home for a pair of matches at Varsity Field against Detroit (Oct. 7) and UW-Green Bay (Oct. 12) before turning north on Oct. 14 to face league-tournament-champion Loyola, which finished the year ranked No. 13 in the region.
The Bulldogs step away from conference play and make their longest road trek of the year on Oct. 20 when they travel over 750 miles to Norman, Okla. for a match against Oklahoma. Butler's ensuing opponent is much more local, however, as it hosts cross-town rival IUPUI on Oct. 23 for the final home match of the season.
The regular slate comes to a close on the road, with matches at Youngstown State (Oct. 26) and Cleveland State (Oct. 28). The Horizon League Championship kicks off with the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game on Oct. 30 and runs through to the finals match on No. 11.
"With the strength of schedule we have this year, the learning curve for our 10 newcomers needs to be short," St. John added, "and I have faith many of them will be stepping up right from the get-go."
Butler's 2007 recruiting class ranks 25th in the Great Lakes Region and second in the Horizon League, according to Soccer Buzz.