Men’s soccer shut out in Big East opener



Rachel Bleier

Men’s soccer (4-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 Big East) dropped its Big East conference opener to Butler (4-0-3 overall, 1-0-0 Big East), 3-0. Butler’s Vincent Mitchell scored two of the Bulldogs’ three goals.

Mitchell’s first goal came in the 30th minute, as he and teammate Eric Leonard combined on the offensive. Mitchell passed the ball to Leonard, who took the ball inside the box and pushed it toward the net. Mitchell picked up the pass from Leonard, maneuvered around ‘Nova goalkeeper Will Steiner and made the six-yard left footer.

The Wildcats would have had a good chance to rebound in the second half if they could quickly counter the Bulldogs 1-0 edge. Unfortunately, Butler scored its second goal in the 57th minute when Michael Peay netted his first Butler goal off a pass from teammate Jared Timmer. 

Mitchell scored his second, and Butler’s third goal of the night in the 70th minute. A.R. Smith fed Mitchell the ball, and Mitchell bent the ball just inside the right post to score from ten yards out. The Wildcats offense suffered after losing Max Kroschwitz to a game-ending injury.

Despite the tough loss, the Wildcats have a lot to look forward to this season. The strong non-conference start to the season, combined with the added intensity of the 3-0 loss to Butler will give the team an edge for the upcoming matches. 

Much of the team’s roster remains intact after an 8-8-3 overall finish in the 2014 season. Seniors Colton Bryant, Chris Hill and Sean Sheridan will lead the Wildcats’ balanced lineup. The lineup also includes junior forward Kroschwitz and goalkeeper Steiner, who is also the team’s captain. 

Head Coach Tom Carlin has said that this year’s team is possession-oriented and will frequently attack first. While this  team is less prone to dominating performances by single players, its style suits the new soccer facility as well as the incoming 2016 recruits. As a result, there will be increased continuity from this season to next in terms of style of play. 

The team is also further along at this point in the season in terms of the level of soccer it is playing than it was last year. “We were good in some of the scrimmages, but we weren’t great,” Carlin said. “You don’t expect to be great at this time of the year. However, the flow of the game is much better…the quality of the soccer is much better.”

However, the team still has a tough road ahead in an extremely competitive and talented Big East conference. The Wildcats have been picked to finish eighth in the conference, according to the Big East 2015 Men’s Soccer Preseason poll. Creighton and Georgetown were co-favorites to win the conference, each tallying 77 points in the balloting. Providence and Xavier were chosen to finish third and fourth, respectively.

The matchups with rivals Georgetown (currently ranked No. 25 in the NCAA polls) and Creighton (currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA polls) present significant hurdles to a successful season. 

With an undefeated record of 8-0, Creighton is the team to beat nationally and in the Big East. The Bluejays return all six of their top scorers, including standout junior forward Fabian Herbers. Herbers has scored in all of Creighton’s wins thus far and is a frontrunner for National Player of the Year.

The Wildcats will also face a tough nonconference matchup against Big Ten opponent Maryland on Oct. 5. The Terps are currently ranked 11th in the NCAA polls. 

Based on their predicted finish and its loss to Butler this past Saturday, the team has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to make a statement in conference play this season. 

The Wildcats definitely have the talent, the question is whether they can stay healthy and elevate their level of play to be more competitive. 

The addition of the talented central midfielder, Zach Zandi, could help the Wildcats improve their standing in the conference. Zandi’s ability to ignite ’Nova’s attack can give the team momentum in tough contests. 

With the return of a healthy Padraic McCullaugh, the Wildcats may get boost in scoring, which will only help their chances in Big East play. McCullaugh scored a hat trick earlier in the season and offers a lot of offensive firepower. His scoring production, combined with the leadership of Steiner and the experience of Bryant and the other upperclassmen could help the Wildcats tremendously this season. 

While the team faces an uphill battle against its Big East opponents, it certainly has the potential for greatness. 

The team has played well so far, and will only get better as the season progresses.