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Sept. 29, 2004

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SETTING THE SCENE
The Ohio State men’s soccer team opens Big Ten play this weekend as the Buckeyes (3-4-1) host Wisconsin (3-4-0) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Sunday will mark the beginning of a three match home stand for Ohio State that also includes matches against Michigan State Oct. 10 and Louisville Oct. 13.

“The league is going to be very close this year,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “There are outstanding teams in the league – there was a week when we had three teams in the Top 10. There is no easy game in the Big Ten Conference. We want to finish in the upper third of the conference standings at the end of the season. That means you have to get good results at home and try to pick up some points on the road, as well. These next couple games become critical to us and the success of our season.”

After falling to a pair of Top-10 ranked opponents to start the season, Ohio State is 3-2-1 since and is coming off an eight-goal weekend that included a 7-4 win over Bowling Green Friday night.

BUCKEYES SET JOMS SCORING RECORD
The Buckeyes established a new Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium scoring record Friday night with their seven-goal output against Bowling Green. The goal total topped OSU’s previous facility record of five goals scored against Denison in 2001 and is the most goals scored overall since a 7-3 win at Wisconsin in 1999.

BUCKEYES STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Ohio State holds the edge in nearly every category on the statistics sheet. The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents, 17-16, and out-shot the opposition, 102-82. OSU has put 55 of their shots on goal compared to 39 for its opponents. The Buckeyes have had more corner kicks, 34-32, and committed fewer fouls, 105-121.

OSU IN THE BIG TEN RANKINGS
The Buckeyes are tied for fourth in the Big Ten (with Indiana) in goals per game, averaging 2.12 gpg. However, Ohio State has given up 2.00 goals per game, which ranks seventh. The Buckeyes rank sixth in shots per game (12.75), tied for sixth in saves (2.88), fifth in fouls (13.12) and fifth in corners (4.25). OSU has been whistled for a Big Ten-low 1.75 offsides per contest.

Individually, Ohio Stat’s Justin Cook has quickly moved up among the Big Ten leaders with 10 points in his last three matches. Cook ranks fourth in shots per game (3.38) and eighth in points per game (1.25). Cook’s four goals rank seventh in the league, while freshman Xavier Balc is tied for eighth with three goals. Sophomore Brent Rohrer is tied for eighth in the conference in assists with three. Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem ranks sixth in goals against average (1.92) and his 2.50 saves per game is also sixth.

COOK HEATING UP, LEADS OSU
Senior Justin Cook collected his second-consecutive five point outing last Friday night when he scored two goals and had an assist in Ohio State’s 7-4 win over Bowling Green. Cook’s assist set up the Buckeyes’ first goal (by Kevin Nugent), and his first goal gave OSU a 4-3 lead. Cook also had two goals and an assist Sept. 19 in Ohio State’s 4-2 win over Virginia Tech at the Penn State/Nike Classic.

Cook will be featured by ohiostatebuckeyes.com Friday when he accepts and answers questions at 1:30 p.m. in an online chat session. Fans may submit questions before and/or during the chat session.

Cook leads OSU in scoring with 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists) and now has 25 career goals (4th all-time) and 13 career assists (6th all-time). He was named to the Penn State/Nike Classic All-Tournament team following his five-point performance against Virginia Tech.

NOTING THE BUCKEYES
Sophomore Taylor Korpieski has three goals and two assists for eight points to rank tied for second on the team in scoring with freshman Xavier Balc, who scored the Buckeyes’ lone goal Sunday at Kentucky. Along with Cook, Korpieski was named to the all-tournament team of the Penn State/Nike Classic and followed that up with a goal and an assist against Bowling Green.

Junior Kevin Nugent broke into the scoring column for the first time this season with a five-point performance Friday against Bowling Green last Friday. Freshman Ryan Kustos and junior Kyle Veris have five points, as well. Veris was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament Sept. 10-11 after scoring a goal in both games. His 12 shots on goal this season are second-most on the squad behind Cook’s 14.

Sophomore Brent Rohrer has five starts as a defender and three starts at midfield. His three assists are tops on the team.

Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem played all 470 minutes of the first five matches, totaling 15 saves and a 1.53 goals against average. Since then, he and junior Ray Burse Jr., OSU’s returning starter, have split time in goal. Latchem is now 2-3-1 with a 1.92 goals against average, while Burse is 1-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA.

Defensively, senior Eric Schwebach and sophomore Dustin Kirby have started all eight matches in the back line.

A LOOK AT WISCONSIN
The Badgers return 18 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 11-10-1 overall and 1-4-1 in the Big Ten. Now in his third year in Madison after seven years as the top assistant at Maryland, head coach Jeff Rohrman returns depth at the midfield and forward positions to go along with veteran goalkeeper Eric Hanson.

Wisconsin, which won the 1995 NCAA Championship and has 22 winning seasons in the last 27 years, returns its top two scorers from last year in Jed Hohlbein (9-6-24) and Nick Van Sicklen (6-3-15). So far this season, Hohlbein’s 1.86 points per game is tied for third in the Big Ten, while Van Sicklen is averaging 1.0 ppg.

The Badgers have not won or lost back-to-back matches this season and are coming off a 2-1 loss vs. IUPUI (now 7-1-0) Friday night. Wisconsin is scheduled to play at Northern Illinois Wednesday night before traveling to Ohio State this weekend.

The Wisconsin offense has been held in check thus far in 2004, as the Badgers rank sixth in the Big Ten in goals scored per game (1.7 gpg). Defensively, Wisconsin is sixth in the league in goals allowed per game (1.86 gapg), although Hanson’s 4.43 saves per game is tops in the conference.

OHIO STATE HISTORY VS. WISCONSIN
When playing in Columbus, the Buckeyes have won five straight over the Badgers. Overall, the all-time series is deadlocked at 9-9-2 between these two schools. Last year Ohio State notched a 1-0 win at Wisconsin, Sept. 28, but the Badgers later knocked the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten tournament with a 2-0 win in Bloomington, Ind. Listed below are the last five OSU-Wisconsin matchups.

Year Location Winner Score 2003 Bloomington Wisconsin 2-0 2003 Madison Ohio State 1-0 2002 Columbus Ohio State 1-0 ot 2001 Madison Wisconsin 1-0 2000 Columbus Ohio State 2-1

LAST YEAR VS. THE BADGERS
The Buckeyes and Badgers met twice last season with each team winning once. OSU opened Big Ten play with a 1-0 win in Madison, Sept. 28, but the Badgers came back to post a 2-0 win over the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Nov. 13.

Ohio State out-shot Wisconsin in both contests (9-8 in Madison, 12-7 in Bloomington). Badger goalkeeper Eric Hanson collected seven saves in the Big Ten tournament game to lead Wisconsin to the victory. In the OSU win at Wisconsin, Dana York scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Dustin Kirby.

BUCKEYES-BADGERS CONNECTIONS
Ohio State freshman Kyle Retzlaff is from Brookfield, Wis., which is the same hometown of Badger players Nick Caronna and Matthew Jelacic. Retzlaff was teammates with Caronna in club soccer, Futbol Club Milwaukee, which is the same club program as Wisconsin players Noah Goerlitz, Reid Johnson, Jelacic, Andrew Cardona and Aaron Hohlbein.

BUCKEYES POSITION-BY-POSITION
Goalkeepers: Freshman Casey Latchem ranks sixth in the Big Ten in goals against average (1.92) and sixth in saves (15, 2.50 per game). He played all 470 minutes in the first five matches before splitting time evenly with returning starter Ray Burse Jr. the last two weeks.

Defenders: Senior Eric Schwebach, the lone returning starter in the back line, and sophomore Dustin Kirby have started all eight matches in the OSU defense, while sophomore Brent Rohrer has made five starts there and three in the midfield. Sophomore Jim Fisher has made six starts and freshman Ben Oliver has played in all eight games, starting six.

Midfielders: A blend of veterans and youth comprise the Ohio State midfield, where the Buckeyes have significant depth. Seniors Peter Withers and Sammy Tamporello and sophomore Taylor Korpieski are all returning starters and, depending on OSU’s alignment, can be joined by sophomores Brent Rohrer and/or Rob Strachan. Korpieski and freshman Xavier Balc both have eight points on the season (3 goals, 2 assists each), while Rohrer has collected a team-high three assists.

Forwards: The trio of a healthy Justin Cook, Kevin Nugent and transfer Kyle Veris comprise what could be the Buckeyes’ most improved area from last year. Cook had back-to-back five point outings (Sept. 19 vs. Virginia Tech, Sept. 24 vs. Kentucky) and leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 10 points. His 27 shots and 14 shots on goal are also most on the team. Veris was named the Offensive MVP of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament Sept. 10-11 as he scored a goal in both games. Nugent had two goals and an assist in Ohio State’s win over Bowling Green and his five points are tied for fourth on the team with Veris and freshman Ryan Kustos.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS
Justin Cook and Taylor Korpieski were both named to the All-Tournament Team of the Penn State/Nike Classic last weekend. They scored two goals and had one assist each in the Classic. A week before, junior Kyle Veris was named the Offensive MVP of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament in Oneonta, N.Y., after scoring two goals in that event. Korpieski and Dustin Kirby were named to the All-Tournament team of the Ohio State Classic, Sept. 3-5.

FRESHMAN CLASS RANKED IN NATION
As further evidence the Buckeyes have reloaded their talent supply, College Soccer News (collegesoccernews.com) has listed the eight-member Ohio State freshman class among the best in the nation. As a group, the Buckeye newcomers are ranked No. 35 out of the nearly 200 Division I programs in the country. Ohio State was awarded that ranking even without the inclusion of transfer Kyle Veris among the newcomers listed.

LIVE STATS AND WEB INFORMATION
Live stats from all Buckeye home matches are available at the men’s soccer page at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Also available at that location are statistics, bios, archives and much more. Visit www.bigten.org for the latest information from around the Big Ten Conference, including the weekly press release, statistics and players of the week.

TOP 10 FOES MADE FOR NEAR UPSETS
In the Ohio State Classic Sept. 3-5, eighth-ranked Wake Forest and sixth-ranked North Carolina represented the two highest-ranked teams to ever take on the Buckeyes in Columbus in back-to-back matches. Despite suffering a pair of defeats, Ohio State took many positives out of the tournament. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-0 decision to Wake Forest but had three more shots on goal than the Demon Deacons (8 to 5). Ohio State allowed just two shots on goal to North Carolina, but the Tar Heels made both of them count to down the Buckeyes, 2-1. Ohio State sophomores Dustin Kirby (defender) and Taylor Korpieski (midfielder) were named to the all-tournament team.

The last time Ohio State faced such a challenge, however, the Buckeyes won both matches, as OSU knocked off No. 9 and defending national champion Indiana, 1-0, and No. 22 Penn State, 3-2, in the 2000 Big Ten Tournament in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. With those two victories, Ohio State secured its first NCAA tournament bid in program history.

ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE FOR OSU
The Buckeyes’ schedule in 2004 could end up being even tougher than their 2003 schedule, which was ranked as the eighth-toughest in the nation at the end of the season. Ohio State’s 2004 opponents posted a .627 winning percentage last year with an overall record of 195-106-49. Seven of those teams were among the 48-member 2003 NCAA Tournament field. So far in 2004, Buckeye opponents have combined to have a 68-49-18 overall record (.570) and four are currently ranked in the NSCAA Top 25.

The Buckeyes faced 14 teams last season that at some point appeared in at least one of the national polls and two foes, Maryland and Indiana, that advanced to the College Cup.

2003 BIG TEN AWARD WINNERS
A trio of Ohio State players earned postseason All-Big Ten awards. Senior AJ Weber was named Second Team All-Big Ten, freshman Taylor Korpieski was named to the All-Freshman Team and senior David Ridenhour was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament Team.

Seven Ohio State players were named Academic All-Big Ten following the season. Seniors Sam Migliano and David Ridenhour, juniors Eric Schwebach and Peter Withers and sophomores Jim Fisher, Michael McCarthy and Kevin Nugent received honors for achieving a grade point average over 3.00. All seven players had a GPA of at least 3.10.

2003 BUCKEYE BIG TEN RECAP
Ohio State’s demanding early-season schedule helped them to finish fourth in the Big Ten last season with a 2-3-1 record. For the tenth consecutive year, Ohio State opened its Big Ten season with a win, defeating Wisconsin, 1-0, Sept. 28 on the road. The Buckeyes were then defeated, 2-1, in overtime at Michigan State Oct. 5. For the first time since 1992 Ohio State played its first two Big Ten contests away from Columbus, but the Buckeyes were 1-1 in the league and ready for a return to Columbus.

The Buckeyes returned home to face defending Big Ten champion Penn State, Oct. 12. Scoring a season-high three goals in the match, OSU defeated the Nittany Lions, 3-1. The Buckeyes then went back on the road to face Indiana Oct. 19, where they were defeated by the eventual national champions, 3-0. Back in Columbus Oct. 26, the Buckeyes out-shot Northwestern 16 to 11, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie. Ohio State then fell to Michigan, 1-0, on Nov. 1 in the 87th minute of play, despite out-shooting the Wolverines 13 to 5. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-0 Big Ten tournament quarterfinal match Nov. 13 to Wisconsin in Bloomington, Ind.

OSU COACHES COMMENTS
Head Coach John Bluem
Sept. 28, on OSU’s alignment in games
“The shape we play has something to do with the opponent and the current scenario in the game. We’re still working on personnel and finding out which players are best in what spots and which players can play different spots.”

Sept. 28, on the start of Big Ten play
“The league is going to be very close this year. There are outstanding teams in the league this year. There was a week when we had three teams in the Top 10. There is no easy game in the Big Ten Conference. We want to finish in the upper third of the conference standings at the end of the season. That means you have to get good results at home and try to pick up some points on the road, as well.

“These next couple games become critical to us and the success of our season because we’ve gone through the preseason and we have six conference matches and three non-conference matches left and we’re under .500, so we have to pick it up.”

Sept. 28, about Wisconsin
“Wisconsin appears to be very similar in personnel to what they were last year, but they have added some good players that will make them a little bit deeper than what they were a year ago. They’re a strong team and are going to be confident since they beat us the last time we played. They’ll be coming in here to Columbus to play on a nice field and maybe with a bit of a grudge since we beat them at their place last year. They’re going to come in here and play hard and we have to meet that challenge and play for 90 minutes, which is something we have been talking about doing better at.”

Sept. 21, on the team and upcoming home games
“A year ago we were 1-5 at this point in time. Now we’re 2-3-1 and feel like we probably could have been better. The level of competition has been good and we’ve played well. We’re at the point in the season where three of the next four games are at home and we need to post some wins.

“It would be really nice to get something going here. The schedule is very difficult and with these home games this might be a good time to build some confidence. If we can get above .500 that will certainly help the confidence of this year after the difficult year we had a year ago.”

Assistant Coach Frank Speth
Sept. 28, on the BG and Kentucky matches
“We were very happy with goal production, obviously, but not happy with the goals against. Any time you can score eight goals in two games, we showed we can at least put the ball in the back of the net.

“At Kentucky, we were happy with the play but not happy with the final result. Any time you go to Kentucky it’s a battle. The boys came out in the second half and played hard ball and adjusted well, but just didn’t concentrate the full 45 minutes. In a game like that, it’s the difference between a tie and a loss.”

OSU PLAYER COMMENTS
Taylor Korpieski, Sept. 28, on the OSU offense
“We’ve been working on getting the ball forward a lot more and to the forward’s feet. It starts with more possession and better possession in the back and then just working our way up the field. We’ve concentrated more on finishing this year. We struggled with that last year. Our mentality is more offensive this year and that has helped. Goals have come easier this year.”

Taylor Korpieski, Sept. 28, on Wisconsin
“We all know that they are a semi-young team, just like we are. Every Big Ten game is tough, and it’s going to be even tougher with us beating them at their place last year. They are going to want to come in here and prove something. They are ranked higher than us this year and they’re not going to want to lose that. Every Big Ten game, starting with the first one, is just as important as the others, so our focus needs to be on this game only and not look past Wisconsin.”

Brent Rohrer, Sept. 28, on the start of Big Ten play
“It’s the time we need to step up. Big Ten games are always battles because almost every team in the conference is a big rival. We need to come out and get focused on these next few games and make a good mark in the Big Ten for us, put in a good showing in the tournament and go from there.”

Peter Withers, Sept. 21, on the OSU offense
“I think we’re gelling more offensively and the new system we used Sunday brought some more offense to the field and more passing and combinations with players. Cook got his first goal and we kind of exploded from there. He needed his first one, and as a team, when you have a player like him, when he scores it helps everyone’s confidence.”

BUCKEYE PROMOTION NOTES, ETC.
At the conclusion of every Ohio State home match, Buckeye players will be available for autographs at the south end of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Kids, to register for your chance to be an honorary captain at a future Buckeye home men’s soccer game, visit the men’s soccer page at ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

### Go Bucks! ###