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Aug. 17, 2000

The Ohio State men’s soccer team is expecting big things in 2000. After posting the program’s best record in 10 years at 11-8 last season, the 2000 squad looks to top that and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

“The program is moving in the right direction,” John Bluem, fourth-year head coach said. “We want to improve on last year’s mark. Every year I have been here the team has become more competitive. I don’t expect anything different this year.”

To continue its winning ways, OSU will have to successfully blend new faces with 14 returning letterwinners against one of the toughest schedules in school history. Experience at both ends of the field will give the Buckeyes the leadership and talent they need to challenge for a Big Ten title.

“We are now close enough to make that big breakthrough into becoming one of the top programs in the country,” Bluem said. “This is a year we hope to contend for the Big Ten championship, which will be played on our fields. If injuries don’t hit us and if we are playing well we have a legitimate chance to win the conference title. A Big Ten championship would give us an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which is the ultimate goal for this team.”

Combine the core of the squad with another strong recruiting class and the 2000 roster should prove to be another successful team in the Bluem era.

SCORING SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM
The top two scorers from the 1999 team, Brian Feldhaus (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio) and John Tomaino (So., Palantine, Ill.) will lead a potent offense in 2000. Sophomores Tony Earp (So., Plantation, Fla.) and Tomaino, who was named 1999 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, also are returning as key midfielders. Andy Kreinbrink (Jr., Sylvania, Ohio) and John Monebrake (Jr., Pickerington, Ohio) worked hard in the offseason and also will battle for starting positions, while newcomer AJ Weber (Fr., Aurora, Colo.) will add instant depth to the Buckeye midfield.

“Our midfield is young but extremely talented,” Bluem said. “With the return of Earp and Tomaino, who was second on the team in scoring last season, we are confident that we could have one of the better midfields in the Big Ten.”

Up front the Buckeyes will again be solid with the return of Feldhaus, a 1999 All-Big Ten selection, and the addition of medical redshirt Justin Cook.

“This year we have the experience and talent to put players in their natural positions,” Bluem said. “Last year we were forced to play Brian Feldhaus as a front-runner. He may be better as an attacking midfielder because he can pass and create plays very well. Justin Cook practiced every day during the spring and looked like he was back to 100 percent after his knee surgery. He is the type of player that can create and score a lot of goals. That is something we have not had consistently in the past.”

With the loss of forwards Jason Cimineri and Peterson Jerome to graduation, Ohio State also will look to some newcomers to put the ball in the net.

ON DEFENSE
The Buckeyes will return three out of four starters from the 1999 team. Three-time All-Big Ten selection, midfielder Brooks Humphreys (Sr., Spring, Texas) will captain the Buckeyes this season. Trey Halberdier (Sr., Spring, Texas), Todd Grossnickle (So., Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Humphreys will look to fill the void left by former All-Big Ten performer Chad Campbell.

“Going into training camp in the fall we don’t have a clear replacement for Campbell,” Bluem said. “If someone doesn’t step up we will change our style of play. The three returning players we have on defense make up a very strong foundation to work with.”

Roger Roush (Sr., Grove City, Ohio) and Andy Bossell (Jr., Columbus, Ohio) both saw quite a bit of playing time last season and will add great depth to the defensive unit. Tony Monroe (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind.) a 1999 second-team All-Big Ten selection, will split time between the midfield and defense.

“Tony is our best athlete and quickest player,” Bluem said. “He could end up as a defender this year because he is our best one-on-one defender. Most of last season he was used as a flank midfielder, so he could add even more depth.”

Newcomer Sam Migliano (Fr., Weston, Ont.), a strong left-footed defender, also should see a reasonable amount of playing time this season.

IN GOAL
Unlike last year, when the Buckeyes entered the season not knowing who their keeper would be, the 2000 Buckeyes can look to redshirt junior Kerry Thompson.

Thompson started every game in 1999, finishing with 59 saves and six shutouts. Thompson earned all-tournament honors at both the NIKE Soccer Classic hosted by Ohio State and the Bell South Tournament in Coral Gables, Fla. Transfer Josh Wilson (So., Westerville, Ohio) and newcomer Chad Brown (Fr., Rockford, Ill.) should challenge Thompson for playing time.

“We are very solid at the goalkeeper position,” Bluem said. “Kerry Thompson as a redshirt sophomore started every game and played virtually every minute for us last season. We also came across Josh Wilson during winter tryouts and we recruited Chad Brown from the Chicago area. Josh could be good enough to see some playing time this season. Right now he just lacks game experience. Brown competed in the Olympic Development Program and was the top keeper in Region II. As a freshman he is good enough to start.”

THE NEWCOMERS
The freshman class has big shoes to fill. For the past two seasons an Ohio State freshman has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and Bluem doesn’t see any reason why that trend won’t continue. The talented group of 12 newcomers includes: Daryl Brazeau (Jr., Hanover Park, Ill.), a transfer from Drake University, forward Jason Ryan (Fr., Spring, Texas), midfielders Matt McCune (Fr., Westerville, Ohio), AJ Weber (Fr., Aurora, Colo.), Carlos Castro (Fr., Dublin, Ohio), Lacko Korec (Fr., Slovak Republic) and David Ridenhour (Fr., Germantown, Tennessee ), defender Sam Migliano (Fr., Weston, Ont.), and goalkeepers Chad Brown (Fr., Rockford, Ill.) and Josh Wilson (So., Westerville, Ohio).

“This could be the best class that Ohio State has had in a long time,” Bluem said. “At any given time during a game this season there could be six freshmen on the field.”

SOURCE OF PRIDE
Ohio State will play again this season at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, and will play host to the Big Ten Championships for the first time in Columbus. All games will be played at the newly constructed stadium Nov. 9-12.

“To be able to play the conference tournament on our home field will be a great advantage this year,” Bluem said. “Our goal is to make this a nationally-recognized program. One thing that helps you do that is having a first-class facility.”

Other visitors to the new stadium include Dayton, Akron, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Indiana, the defending national champions. The Buckeyes will go on the road to face conference rivals Penn State and Michigan. Ohio State will also play host to the NIKE Classic Oct. 27-29, taking on Kentucky and Cincinnati to close out the regular season.