|School – Butler
|Conference – Big East
|Coach – Paul Snape (6th Season)
Background – Butler was 10-4-4 overall in 2015 with a 6-3-0 mark in conference play which was good for a third place finish in regular season play. Butler's season came to an end in 2015 when they were topped in penalty kicks by Providence in the Quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament after the contest was tied 2-2 at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play.
Paul Snape pretty accurately described Butler's season last year when he stated, "I'm so proud of the boys. We had a good season; we were so close to being great."
Snape will enter his sixth season as the Butler head coach in 2016 with a 39-35-8 overall record. During the five seasons that Snape has been at the helm of the program, Butler has been a member of the Horizon League, the Atlantic 10 (2012) and beginning in 2013 the Big East Conference.
Butler has appeared in the NCAA Touranment a total of six times with the last appearance in 2010 when they were 16-1-3 overall and won the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles.
Midfielder Vincent Mitchell was a 2015 All-Big East First Team selection. Forward David Goldsmith, goalkeeper Eric Dick and midfielder Caleb Postlewait were named to the 2015 All-Big East Second Team. Midfielders Marco Charalambous and Jared Timmer were named to the Big East All-Freshman Team.
Offense – The key departure due to graduation on the offensive side of the ball is midfielder Vincent Mitchell (11g, 4a) who was a three-year starter and was the Bulldogs top goal scorer last year. Other gaps to plug due to graduation include forward Jeff Adkins (2g, 5a) and midfielders Caleb Postlewait (1g, 4a) and Mike Kozielek (0g, 1a). Adkins and Postlewait were four year starters and Kozielek was a starter for two seasons.
Senior David Goldsmith (11g, 1a) returns to give Butler a very productive finisher up-top. Goldsmith is the real deal and will be among the best at his position in the Big East Conference in 2016.
Senior A.R. Smith (0g, 2a) who appeared in eighteen contests last year should also add an additional dimension to the attack up-top.
Despite the gaps to plug, the Butler midfield looks to be very talented and experienced in 2016. Redshirt sophomore Marco Charalambous (1g, 4a) and sophomore Jared Timmer (0g, 1a) return with the benefit of a year of starting experinece under their belts. Junior Eric Leonard (2g, 5a) who has been a starter the past two seasons also returns.
Junior Kim Bennett (2g, 1a) who appeared in seventeen contests last year with three starts and senior Charlie Constantino (0g, 3a) who appeared in eighteen matches with six starts will also be in the mix in the midfield.
Newcomers Lewis Suddick out of the Newcastle United Academy and Issac Galliford who played for Luton Town's Academy are among the members of the recuriting class who look to have the talent and competitve experinece to challenge for minutes in the midfield right away.
Defense – The Bulldogs will miss the toughness and the composure that four year starter Caleb Postlewait brought to the defensive side of the ball.
However, a very solid core of defenders are slated to return for a Butler team that only allowed a total of seventeen goals last year.
The healthy return of redshirt senior back Mitch Ostrowski who received a medical redshirt last year after sustaining an injury that kept him out for most of the season is a big plus. Sophomore Joe Moulden who started every contest last year as a true freshman also returns in the back.
Sophomores Michael Peay (1g, 1a) who played in sixteen matches last year with ten starts and Kieran Geldenhuys who played in fourteen contests with eleven starts are among other returning backs who will challenge for an even greater role in 2016. Redshirt junior Tanner Witsken should also be in the mix in the back in 2016.
Defender Alex Lehtinen is among the members of the recruiting class who will arrive with a wealth of comepetive experience that should enable him to contribute right out of the gate.
Redshirt junior Eric Dick who has been the starter in goal for the past two seasons returns to anchor the defense. Dick is a physical and very dominant shot stopper who should be among the best in the Big East at his position in 2016.
Newcomers – Three and a Half Star Recruiting Calss
Coach Snape stated, "The entire coaching staff has been working really hard over the past few months to bring in these magnificant young student-athletes." He added, "Each player will provide us with their unique set of skills and worldly experieces, which will definitely make us a stronger program."
Lucas Dawley – Defender – Bexley, Ohio – Bexley High School – Played for Columbus Soccer Academy. Team captain.
Nathan Edmonds – Midfielder – Libertyville, Illinois – Libertyville High School – Played for the Chicago Fire Acamedy and the Chicago Magic Academy. All-Area First Team selection. All-Conference selection.
Christian Kotila – Forward – Ann Arbor, Michigan – Huron High School – First Team All-State. All-Conference. All-Region.
Alex Lehtinen – Defender – Espoo, Uusimaa, Finland – Makelanrinne Sports High School – Played for FC Esport Honka. Played for Finland and Swiss Youth National Teams.
Ethan Mason – Defender – Traverse City, Michigan – Traverse City Central High School – Played for Allicance FC. All-Region Dream Team. All-District. All-Conference.
Wyatt Scott – Forward – Syracuse, New York – Cicero North – Junior transfer from Hartwick College were he was a Sunbelt Second Team All-Conference selection in 2015.
Derek Sutton – Midfielder – Waterloo, Indiana – Dekalb High School – Played for the Indianba Fire Academy. Team captain.
Braden Van Allen – Defender – Evansville, Indiana – Evansville North – Redshirt freshman transfer from VCU. First Team All-State.
Maurice Thonpson III – Defender – Lilbun, Georgia- Parkview High School – Played for Concorde Fire Academy. All-State. All-Region. All-County.
Lewis Suddick – Midfielder – Newcastel upon Tyne, England – Whitley Bay High School – Played for Newcastle United FC.
Isaac Galliford – Midfielder – Luton, England – Lealands High School – Played for Luton Town FC.
Prognosis for 2016 – The difference between an average and a really great season can be very slight. Paul Snape was correct when he indicated the Bulldogs were close to having a banner season last year.
In 2015 Butler had four ties and three of their four losses were by a one goal margin. The fourth loss was a 2-0 setback on the road to highly regarded Georgetown in a match in which they were without their top two goal scorers.
Butler was a very good team last year but the bottom line is that their margin for error against top level teams was very slight and will be once again in 2016.
Lapses in game managment particularly during the final stages of many contests perhaps due in part due to a lack of confidence or composure negatively impacted Butler"s win total last year.
The Bulldogs will enter the 2016 season with seven starters back from the 2015 squad. The four starters that they lose due to graduation were all productive and experienced players who will be missed.
However, all things considered, Butler will enter the 2016 campaign with the athleticism and experience needed to hold their own with anyone if they can consistently put together a full ninety minutes of play. A lot of the returning players saw plenty of game action last year. The experience gained in 2015 has the potential to increase confidence and composure which may be the X-Factor that gives Butler the edge they need to prevail in the close contests that slipped away from them last year.
The Bulldogs look to be particularly stong down the spine heading into the 2016 season which is always a good sign. Erick Dick in goal, center backs Joe Mouldin and Mitch Ostrowski, center midfielders Jared Timmer, Marco Charalambous and Eric Leonard, and forward David Goldsmith are all talented and experienced players.
Butler also looks to be a very cohensive team as well as a team that is hungry to compete for a Big East Title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. They also appear to have a good mixture of younger and older players with solid senior leadership. Co-captains Goldsmith, Ostrowski, and Constantino should set the pace for the team along with junior Eric Leonard. All good signs.
Winning the Big East Conference title may be a stretch goal in 2016 but an increase in the number of wins and a return to the NCAA Tournament are realistic expectations for this bunch.