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Tale of the Tape: Butler

A week after playing its first in-state rivalry match of the season, Indiana heads to Indianapolis to take on Butler in the second. IU is fresh off a week in which it drew with Notre Dame after double overtime and defeated Wisconsin 3-1 in the conference opener, still undefeated on the young season.

The annual IU-Butler derby always draws a good crowd. In 2017, the last time the two played at the Sellick Bowl in Indianapolis, a Butler-record 6,015 fans came to watch a top-10 battle result in a 0-0 draw. Two years later, IU is still in the top 10 while Butler continues its fight to return to the elite in college soccer. Let's dig into this week's Tale of the Tape.

Two-headed attack 

Butler’s offensive attack is led by two capable forwards in senior Brandon Guhl and freshman Wilmer Cabrera Jr. Guhl was a heavy part of Butler’s talented team two seasons ago and had one of the better chances early in the match.

In five games this season, Guhl has scored three goals. After transferring from SMU to Butler, Guhl has scored 23 goals in his career and has molded himself into a talented, do-it-all striker for the Bulldogs. On the other end, Cabrera Jr. is just six games into his career but comes to Butler after a successful prep career at Montverde Academy.

Already, he’s scored the lone goal to beat Wisconsin and had one of the deciding goals in a victory over Western Michigan. The two players are three years apart in age, but have quickly formed a dynamic pairing for a Butler team that really struggled to score goals last season. 

Early in the season, Butler has continued to get hurt by its inability to score. Butler has only scored seven goals in six games and Guhl and Cabrera Jr. have combined for five of those.

International flair

It is very common to see international players on the rosters of collegiate soccer programs. Both Joris Ahlinvi and Simon Waever for IU were born outside the United States. For Butler, it’s no different.

Two of the Bulldogs’ best midfielders are both from Europe. Senior Alex Lehtinen comes from Finland while sophomore Jack Haywood came to Indianapolis from Nottingham, England. These two players have been instrumental in the early-season success for Butler.

Each has three assists on the season and have been key for setting up Guhl and Cabrera Jr. in the open field. Lehtinen has 23 points in his Butler career while Haywood is coming off a season where he was selected to the All-Big East Freshman Team.

Butler is very vulnerable when it gets on the back foot in the middle of the field. Stretches of play where opposing forwards get in behind the midfield and defense has led to a barrage of shots. In its three losses, Butler has allowed 46 shots, including 22 in a 2-1 overtime loss to SIU-Edwardsville.

Indiana has been able to get a lot of shots off so far, even if they're all not finding the back of the net. Getting out in the open field will be key for IU to have success against Butler.

Tough stretch of play

Just like IU, Butler opened up its conference season last Friday night against No. 3 Georgetown. Butler fell 3-0 to open a stretch of three straight matches against top-10 competition. It will play No. 9 St. John’s this week after taking on IU. Butler has already played a stiff schedule with games against SIUE, Wisconsin and Georgetown and sits 3-3 after six matches. Butler’s match with IU will be the Bulldogs’ biggest chance to secure a much needed non-conference win to boost its RPI. 

The annual IU and Butler match is always one of the highlights of the non-conference slate for both teams. IU has a large contingent of fans in both Bloomington and Indianapolis that will make this a great environment in late September. The match will start at 7 p.m. from the Sellick Bowl in Indianapolis.

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