November 22, 2009

Butler’s Season Ends In NCAA Tournament

Host Indiana found an opening midway through the second half and that proved to be enough for the Hoosiers to hand #12-seeded Butler a 1-0 setback in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship at Armstrong Stadium on Sunday (Nov. 22).  The loss ended Butler’s remarkable season at 14-3-2.

Will Bruin provided the game-winner at 57:25.  He took a long cross from teammate Darren Yeagle in front of the goal and beat Butler goalkeeper Fabian Knopfler with a shot into the lower right side of the net.  It was Bruin’s nine goal of the season.

“I thought they did a quality job of delivery in the box,” head coach Kelly Findley said of the game-winning play.  “I don’t think we were completely switched on, but that’s the game of soccer.  When it’s this tight and you have two good teams playing, it’s a flash of whether it’s a lack of concentration on your part or genius on their part, but I think we lacked that little bit of concentration and they came away with a goal.”

The match was tight from the outset.  The two teams combined for just five shots in the first half, with Butler holding a one shot advantage.  Senior Boris Gatzky had the match’s first scoring opportunity just over a minute into the contest, but Indiana goalkeeper Luis Soffner made the first of his three saves.

Knopfler had his lone save of the match 17 minutes later on a shot by Bruin, who wound up with both of the Hoosiers’ shots on goal in the contest.

Butler’s best attempt came three minutes into the second half when senior Kyle VondenBenken broke free and blistered a shot from 20 yards out.  But Soffner made a diving save to preserve the shutout.  The Bulldogs last chance came with just over 12 minutes remaining on a header by sophomore Matt Hedges, but Soffner again made the stop.

The Bulldogs, who had beaten Indiana in overtime during the regular season, had a 9-5 advantage in shots and a 3-2 edge in shots on goal.  Butler had five corner kicks to a pair of the Hoosiers.

The loss ended Butler’s third-winningest season and the school’s best since 1998.  The Bulldogs were regular season champs in the Horizon League and they tied Green Bay in the league tournament championship match, only to see the Phoenix advance on penalty kicks.  Butler entered the Horizon League Tournament ranked No. 23 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national poll.

“The first thing I’ll do when I go back to the locker room is congratulate the team on a good season.  To get a bye in the NCAA Championship is very good and I’m very proud of that,” noted Findley.  “This is hardest for the seniors.  Those are the guys who put four years in and their careers just ended.  So we’ll honor those guys and make sure we lift them up and congratulate them.  Then we’ll make sure we understand that it took a lot of hard work to get here and we can’t rest on this for next year.”

Indiana (12-9-1), which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a first round victory over Louisville, will meet North Carolina in the third round of the championship on Sunday, Nov. 29..