Butler shakes off cobwebs in scoreless exhibition opener
INDIANAPOLIS — After a decorated 2016 campaign that saw the team claim the Big East title, Butler entered this season with lofty expectations. The Bulldogs kicked off their season Saturday at the Sellick Bowl with an exhibition match against Michigan and showed flashes of brilliance, but on the whole displayed the typical rust often seen in preseason openers. The end result was a nil-nil draw.
Head coach Paul Snape’s Bulldogs came out in their usual free-flowing 4-5-1 setup, with sophomore midfielders Isaac Galliford and Lewis Suddick leading the attack.
The two clubs agreed to some unique circumstances in order to give their players extra coaching and rest. Channeling hockey, they opted for three 30-minute periods.
Suddick almost scored in the first period, but his headed effort past the goalkeeper was cleared off the line as it trickled toward the far post. Ditto for sophomore forward Brandon Guhl, whose late header bounced just wide of post.
The Wolverines, coming off a disappointing four-win 2016 season, including just one victory in Big Ten play, accounted themselves quite well and appear much improved this year.
Michigan midfielder Umar Farouk Osman posed sporadic problems for the hosts by interjecting his pace and showing off his slick dribbling ability. He started out on the left flank, then shifted to right midfielder in the second period.
Wolverines forward Mohammed Zakyi also made a difference for the visitors. After a bad giveaway by Galliford in the defensive third, Zakyi fired a shot on frame that forced Butler goalkeeper Eric Dick into a diving save.
Butler looked sharper in the second period than in the first, and seemed to improve its cohesion — especially in the midfield — as the match wore on. In the third period, both coaches opted to roll out lineups featuring mostly backups to get their bench players some vital preseason minutes.
Overall both sides turned in slightly sloppy performances, but that’s precisely what exhibition matches are for — to shake off the cobwebs.
Butler will return to action Wednesday in Columbus for another exhibition clash with Ohio State.
You can follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.
Soc Takes is on Patreon. Get access to patron-only Soc Takes Pod episodes, exclusive written content and tier rewards. Click here to become a patron today.