Butler Picked Third In Horizon League Men’s Soccer Poll

Butler has been picked to finish third in the 2009 Horizon League men’s soccer race, according to the annual preseason poll of league coaches.  Last year’s regular season champion UIC was tabbed as the favorite, while 2008 league tournament champ Loyola was picked second in the poll released by the Horizon League office on Thursday (Aug. 20).

The Flames, who advanced to the third round of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship, picked up six first place votes and 62 total points in the poll.  Loyola, also coming off an appearance in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship, had two first place votes and 56 points, while Butler received the remaining first place vote and 49 points.

Cleveland State was picked fourth in the poll with 44 points, followed by Green Bay (38), Valparaiso (25), Milwaukee (22), Wright State (16) and Detroit (12).

The Bulldogs are coming off their best campaign in nearly a decade, after posting a 13-3-4 overall record and a 5-0-3 Horizon League mark in 2008.  The 13 wins tied the fourth-highest win total in school history, while the Bulldogs became the first Horizon League team since 2003 to finish the league season with an unbeaten record.  Butler cracked the “Top 25” during the season, climbing as high as No. 21.

Head coach Kelly Findley, entering his fourth season, does have to replace his top two scorers from last season’s successful squad.  Forward Frank Patano, who’s now a student assistant coach with the Bulldogs, led the Horizon League in scoring with 12 goals and three assists, while forward Eduardo Garcia topped the league in assists with 13 and added three goals to finish fifth in the circuit in scoring.

But the Butler coach can call on eight returning starters, including All-Horizon League performers Boris Gatzky, Nick Hegeman, Kyle Pateros and Matt Hedges.  Gatzky (4 goals, 6 assists) and Pateros (6 goals, 2 assists) tied for third on the team in scoring in 2008, while Hegeman and Hedges helped anchor a Butler defense that produced 10 shutouts.  Hegeman, who started 16 matches at goalkeeper, finished third in the Horizon League with a 0.77 goals against average.  And Findley has 18 additional letterwinners on hand this season!

The Bulldogs will open the 2009 regular season with a non-league match at IPFW on Tuesday, Sept. 1.  The team’s first home match will be at 5 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 6, against Xavier.