Last season’s Butler Men’s Soccer team had their ups and downs throughout the season, ultimately playing their last game in a disappointing 5-1 loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first found of the NCAA Tournament. However, even getting to the NCAA Tournament was an achievement in itself after the Bulldogs failed to reach that point the year before.
The season started out strong for Butler after the team started out with five wins and one loss before hitting a rough patch midway through the season, dropping three of their next four games. However, the Bulldogs would climb out of this hole in a hurry managing to win or tie eight of their next ten games to reach the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament where they suffered a crushing loss in penalty kicks to the Georgetown Hoyas.
The Bulldogs are going to have to fill a few holes in the roster next year after losing seniors Brandon Guhl (F), Alex Lehtinen (D), Derek Sutton (M), and Jared Timmer (M).
Butler will have to find a way to replace the team-leading nine goals by Guhl, and the six assists from Lehtinen. Both of these tasks will be difficult to do, but the Bulldogs have returning players Wilmer Cabrera Jr. and Jack Haywood who will lead the charge next year. Cabrera Jr. finished second on the team last year with eight goals while Haywood led the team with nine assists. In addition to this, the team must replace a solid player like Derek Sutton who was one of only four players on the team to play in all 20 games for the Bulldogs last season.
“They all brought individual qualities that were a big part of the team’s success this past season,” Deonte Hamblen, a student manager said, “however, the team thrived on having quality and talent all throughout the squad. Replacing a player like Guhl who will guarantee ten or more goals a season, Sutton who has been a metronome in the midfield since his freshman year along with other staples in the team like Alex Lehtinen and Jared Timmer is always going to be a challenge, but I believe that the players next season can fill those shoes.”
Due to the coronavirus, the Bulldogs are missing out on valuable spring games to get the team ready for next season as games against IUPUI (3/28), Notre Dame (4/4), and Xavier (4/18) have all been canceled.
As for the next fall season, Hamblen says that he still has high hopes for the team despite all of the key pieces leaving.
“I think that next season will be better than in 2019. Progressing well into the BIG EAST Tournament is always a great achievement as well as getting into the NCAA Tournament, but I still feel like this team has a lot of room to grow and the right players to elevate the standards. I would not be surprised to see Jack Haywood as the focal point for creativity in midfield.”
Hamblen added that with two incoming freshman defenders, the bar is still set at a very high level.
“Coach Snape always sets the standards high for the team. I imagine that the aspirations will be the same next season: Win the Big East and make it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.”