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May 18, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Another challenging schedule awaits the Ohio State men’s soccer team this fall, head coach John Bluem announced this week, as the Buckeyes aim to build on last season’s Big Ten regular-season co-championship and Round of 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament. The schedule includes 18 regular-season matches followed by the Big Ten tournament and what the Buckeyes are aiming to be their fourth trip to the NCAA tournament in the last six years.

Led by 17 returning letterwinners, Ohio State, 12-7-2 a year ago and ranked No. 16 in the final 2004 NSCAA national poll, will face five teams that were ranked in the same poll and a total of eight teams that were among the 48-team NCAA tournament field.

“Our philosophy is to schedule the best teams we possibly can from around the country, and on top of that we play in what was the best soccer conference in the nation last season,” Bluem said, noting six of seven teams from the Big Ten were NCAA tournament participants a year ago, the most from any conference in the nation. “Our schedule has a good mixture of programs that have had long-term success, plus a few that have been very successful recently. Last year 12 of our 21 games were against teams that went to the NCAA tournament and we expect a similar scenario this season.”

After exhibition matches at Dayton Aug. 21 and against Cincinnati Aug. 26 in Crew Stadium, the Buckeyes will face 18 regular season opponents that posted a combined record of 191-133-41 (.580) last season.

The Ohio State Classic will be held Sept. 2-4 with Ohio State facing Marquette (6-11-1) and New Mexico (17-1-2, NCAA third round). The Buckeyes’ next five matches will all be on the road, beginning with the Furman Classic Sept. 9-11 against Furman (6-10-2) and Coastal Carolina (14-8-1, NCAA first round). The Penn State/Nike Classic Sept. 16-18 will feature match-ups against Cal State Fullerton (6-10-2) and UCLA (14-4-2, NCAA third round), while the road trip will conclude Sept. 23 at Bowling Green (0-19-0).

Three more non-conference games are up next, including home games Sept. 25 against Kentucky (11-5-3) and Sept. 28 against Butler (13-6-1), followed by a trip to Akron (13-5-3, NCAA first round) Sept. 30. The Big Ten campaign opens Oct. 2 at Wisconsin (9-10-0) and Oct. 9 at defending Big Ten champion Michigan State (12-7-1). Ohio State travels to Louisville (5-10-4) Oct. 12 before facing four of its final five regular season opponents in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Penn State (10-4-8, NCAA second round) visits Columbus Oct. 16, while OSU will face Oakland (11-5-3) Oct. 19. The Buckeyes travel to two-time defending national champion Indiana Oct. 23 before concluding the regular season at home against Northwestern (15-6-2, NCAA second-round) Oct. 28 and Michigan (11-8-4, NCAA second round) Nov. 4. The Big Ten tournament will be held Nov. 10-13 at Northwestern.

“With the level of competition we are going up against, we don’t expect to go out and win 16 or 17 games, but it prepares us for the Big Ten conference and the NCAA tournament,” Bluem said. “The critical factor in getting into the NCAA tournament is your strength of schedule, so having a winning record against our schedule will help us achieve that goal.”

### Go Bucks! ###