Nov. 5, 2010
Contact: Dan Carr
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Six days after handing formerly top-ranked Akron its first loss of the season, the Cleveland State men's soccer team played another unbeaten, No. 6 Butler, to a 0-0 tie on Friday (Nov. 5).
The scoreless draw wrapped was the final regular season match for both Horizon League teams. The Vikings finish with a 4-3-1 mark in conference play and an 8-9-1 record overall. Butler finishes 15-0-2 (7-0-1 HL).
"I'm happy with the result of the match," head coach Ali Kazemaini said. "I thought we had a chance to win, and I think we would have won if we had capitalized on a few opportunities. Most importantly though, I was glad the team put the Akron win behind them so quickly. They were focused and prepared, and it showed on the field."
Sophomore goalkeeper Brad Stuver ended the regular season with one of his best games of the year. The reigning NSCAA National Player of the Week, Stuver recorded seven saves, including two diving stops that ended the best scoring opportunities of the day for Butler.
Cleveland State's defense also played very well, recording the Vikings' fourth shutout of the year. Freshmen John Gulden, Zach Ellis-Hayden and Justin Cree and sophomore Christopher Koy, making his second career start, kept Butler's forwards away from the net for most of the match. Ellis-Hayden in particular made a fantastic move in the first half on a shot that went past Stuver towards the net, getting in front of the ball just before it could enter the goal.
The Bulldogs had entered the match ranked sixth in the NCAA in goals scored (38) and seventh in the nation in goals per game (2.38). The Vikings are only the second team this season to hold Butler scoreless, as IUPUI also played the Bulldogs to a scoreless tie on Oct. 20.
"I felt it was a very even game," Kazemaini said. "They out shot us, but they didn't outperform us defensively. We proved we could hang with a very good team on the road."
The Vikings were outshot 21-8, and Butler held a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal.
With the regular season completed, Cleveland State will wait to see where it will finish in the final conference standings. The Vikings were already assured of a playoff berth entering the Butler match, and with the tie they can finish anywhere from third to fifth in the Horizon League.
The Vikings fate will ultimately reside in the outcomes of the Detroit (at Valparaiso) and Loyola (at UIC) contests, set to be played tomorrow (Nov. 6). A loss by Detroit or a loss or tie by Loyola would move the Vikings into either third or fourth in the final standings, giving CSU home field advantage for its opening round match. If both Detroit and Loyola win, the Vikings would finish fifth and be on the road for the first playoff contest.
"We'll see where we end up in the standings," Kazemaini said. "In the playoffs it can be a small margin between the best team and the sixth team in any match, and I think we've shown the past two games that we are capable of beating anyone. Hopefully we'll get the first game at home, build on the confidence we've gained from these last two matches and make a run at the conference championship."
The first round matches of the Horizon League Championship playoffs will begin on Tuesday (Nov. 9) and will be played on the home fields of the third and fourth seeds. The conference semifinals and finals will be played at Butler, who finished the year with the conference's top overall record, on