MINT HILL, NC – The Butler Bulldogs, the local arch rival of the Independence Patriots simply outplayed and dominated on the soccer field at Indy’s home turf. The convincing victory keeps the Bulldogs in second place in the highly competitive Southwestern 4A Conference with a 5-1 record trailing Providence 6-0.
To be fair, the Patriots are a young team. The club consists of eight freshman and sophomores on the roster. Their inexperience and sometimes lack of soccer acumen at the varsity level show up on occasion. In particular against a solid experienced team like the Bulldogs, who will take advantage of mistakes which are costly. On the positive side, this team will mature, gain valuable experience, and will be in a better position to compete at a higher level next season playing in a tough conference.
The Patriots have a solid coaching staff, Head Coach Tyler Gibson has had good success at Indy, especially over the past five years when they turned this program around. Over this 5 year time period the Patriots have accumulated a 72-45-4 record. However, it does not include this season which is really a rebuilding period with the team having an overall record of 3-9-4, and within the SW4A 0-4-1, good for 7th place in the conference. This will be the Patriots first losing season since 2015.
During the match, the Patriots struck first when Sam Howe scored only 3:00 minutes into the contest to give the home team a huge boost of confidence taking a 1-0 lead. Josh Davidson was awarded the assist on the goal. Indy kept pace with the Bulldogs throughout the first half, as they played aggressively and even until the final 10:00 minutes. This is when the Bulldogs began to take charge of this matchup. They scored their first goal to tie the game at 1-1 with 9:59 remaining on the scoreboard.
Then with under five minutes remaining, Butler applied a great amount of pressure on the Patriot’s defense, forcing a penalty, the penalty shot by Alex Webster was rocketed into the net past the Patriot GK Daniel Lockler to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage. This was a huge momentum swing in favor of the Bulldogs for the remainder of the first half. This swing in momentum set up the second-half domination of time of possession by Butler.
After the intermission, the Bulldogs would add three more goals at 22:00, 16:00, and 10:00 minutes to complete the scoring and go home with a solid 5-1 victory over their arch rival. Indy was not able to form a consistent attack in the second half. However, they did get a few good opportunities late, but were just not able to capitalize to make this game closer than the final outcome.
Senior Alex Webster had an outstanding game scoring 3 goals, while Jefferson Rodriquez and Estaban Coto both contributed a goal for Butler. Indy was able to create 10 shots on goal with the majority coming in the first half, but with some aggressive goalkeeping play by Noah Fasel in the net, Butler was able to prevent any further damage beyond the one goal scored to secure the victory.