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Oct. 19, 2004

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SETTING THE SCENE
Now the only team in the Big Ten standings without a league loss, the Ohio State men’s soccer team will step out of conference play Wednesday for a midweek road test as the Buckeyes travel to Rochester, Mich., to face regionally ranked Oakland. Ohio State (6-4-2, 3-0-0 Big Ten) is 5-1-1 in its last seven games and is coming off an impressive 3-0 win at No. 20 Penn State Sunday.

The Buckeyes, who have yet to allow a goal in the month of October and, in the process, have tied a school record with four consecutive shutouts. OSU should figure to move up in Tuesday’s NSCAA Great Lakes regional poll, where they were 10th last week. Oakland (8-2-2, 2-1-1 Mid-Continent) was eighth in the same poll a week ago after being ranked fifth earlier this season.

“It has taken us awhile, but we have hit a nice level of consistency,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “The guys are excited about what’s happening. We have finally found a system that has our best players all on the field together.”

Facing tough opponents on the road will become commonplace for Ohio State as the regular season wraps up over the next three weeks. All but one of the Buckeyes’ remaining five matches are on the road, with the one exception being a huge home date with Indiana this Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

BLUEM SETS CAREER WINS RECORD
Ohio State head coach John Bluem won his school-record 73rd career game Sunday as the Buckeyes shut out Penn State, 3-0. The victory moves Bluem past Al Bianco (1979-86) and Gary Avedikian (1987-96), who both had 72 wins in their tenures.

“We have had some great players at Ohio State and it’s an honor to hold that record at such a great institution,” Bluem said. “I have had the good fortune to work in a fully funded program and with great facilities. Ohio State has great tradition in soccer and has had some great coaches and to be at the top of that list is quite an honor.”

Overall at OSU, Bluem is 73-59-18 in his eighth year. His .548 winning percentage at OSU is the highest in program history. In his career, which includes six seasons at Fresno State, Bluem is 159-86-30 (.634).

BUCKEYES LONE BIG TEN UNDEFEATED
For the first time since 1998, Ohio State is 3-0-0 in the Big Ten. Thanks to Northwestern’s 1-0 win at Indiana Sunday, the Buckeyes own the best winning percentage in the conference at 1.000, though Indiana’s 12 points from a 4-1 record remain atop the league standings.

“We still have three very difficult games ahead of us, but it’s nice to have put together some good results through the first half of the conference season,” Bluem said. “That will help with our confidence to know that we’re competitive and have a great chance at doing well in the Big Ten.”

COOK, BURSE HONORED BY BIG TEN
The Big Ten announced Monday senior Justin Cook was named the Offensive Player of the Week and junior Ray Burse Jr. was named the co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Cook scored all three goals in the win Sunday to collect his first career hat trick. Burse, meanwhile, tied an Ohio State record with his fourth consecutive shutout. He had a pair of saves in the match to go along with two saves Wednesday in Ohio State’s 0-0 draw vs. Louisville.

“I would like to thank the Big Ten for recognizing the performances of Justin and Ray,” Bluem said. “Ray had an outstanding week and even though the award is an individual honor, he led our defense to a great team effort. For Justin, he had an exceptional game. He is a very difficult player to mark and with a hat trick, the first of his career, it is a well-deserved award.”

The conference weekly honor is the third of Cook’s career and the second for Burse, whose shutout string began Oct. 3 with a 1-0 win over Wisconsin, for which he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, as well. Burse shares the honor this week with Northwestern goalkeeper Justin Pines.

NOTING THE WIN AT PENN STATE
Ohio State is coming off a record-setting win at 20th-ranked Penn State Sunday. For starters, it marked the Buckeyes’ first win over a ranked team since a 3-2 double-overtime win at No. 5 St. John’s on Oct. 28, 2001. The win also elevated Ohio State to 3-0-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1998.

The win was the 73rd at Ohio State for head coach John Bluem, setting a new program record (see earlier note). All three goals were scored by senior forward Justin Cook, marking his first career hat trick and giving him 29 career goals, which ranks third all-time at OSU. The shutout was the fourth in a row for junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr., which ties the Ohio State record.

THREE BUCKEYES NOMINATED FOR ACADEMIC HONORS
Three Ohio State players have been nominated for Academic All-America honors, including seniors Eric Schwebach and Peter Withers and sophomore Jim Fisher. To be nominated, players must have a minimum grade point average of 3.20. All three OSU nominees are business majors in the prestigious Ohio State Fisher College of Business.

BUCKEYES STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Ohio State holds the edge in nearly every category on the statistics sheet. The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents, 23-16, and out-shot the opposition, 156-131 (13.0-10.9 avg.). OSU has put 72 of their shots on goal compared to 59 for its opponents. The Buckeyes have had an equal number of corner kicks at 53 and committed fewer fouls, 163-198.

OSU IN THE BIG TEN RANKINGS
The Buckeyes are the lone undefeated team in the Big Ten at 3-0-0 and are also the only team in the league to yet allowed a goal in conference play. In Big Ten games only, Ohio State is tied for third in goals scored (1.5 gpg) and tied for first in goalkeeper saves (6.0 spg). OSU has committed the second-fewest fouls (13.7 fpg) and the fewest yellow cards (.7 ypg). Individually in Big Ten games only, Justin Cook leads the league in points per game (2.7 ppg) and goals per game (1.3 gpg). Ray Burse Jr. leads ranks second in saves per game (6.0 spg), first in shutouts (3) and goals against average (0.00 GAA).

In all games, Ohio State is tied for third in goals scored (1.9 gpg), fifth in goals allowed (1.3 gapg), second in shutouts (5), tied for fifth in corners (4.9 cpg) and has committed the second-fewest fouls (13.6 fpg). Individually in all games, Cook is tied for fourth in points (1.6 ppg) and tied for third in goals (.7 gpg), while Burse is second in both saves (4.0 spg) and goals against average (0.74 GAA).

NOTING THE BUCKEYES
Senior captain Justin Cook leads Ohio State in scoring this season with 19 points off eight goals and three assists. He has 29 career goals (3rd all-time) and 13 career assists (6th all-time). He has a pair of five-point games and one six-point game this season.

Freshman Xavier Balc and sophomore Taylor Korpieski have nine points each from three goals and three assists, while junior Kyle Veris has eight points from three goals and two assists.

Four Buckeyes have started all 11 matches so far this season, including Korpieski, senior Eric Schwebach and sophomores Brent Rohrer and Dustin Kirby. Rohrer’s three assists are tied for tops on the team with Cook, Balc and Korpieski.

Cook’s 40 shots are most on the team, as are his 19 shots on goal this season. Veris is close behind with 15 SOG.

With four consecutive shutouts, junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. owns a 0.74 goals against average and has 28 saves. He owns a 4-1-1 overall record. Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem played all 470 minutes of the first five matches and has a 1.92 GAA and 15 saves on the season.

A LOOK AT OAKLAND
Oakland is coming off a 2003 season in which it won the Mid-Continent Conference championship, posted a 12-5-5 overall record and advanced to the NCAA tournament. The Golden Grizzlies are having another fine season in 2004, as OU is now 8-2-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the MCC. As of last Tuesday’s poll, Oakland was ranked eighth in the Great Lakes regional poll after being ranked as high as fifth earlier this season.

The Golden Grizzlies are coming off a 0-0 draw at IUPUI (8-4-0) Sunday, which marks one of five opponents on OU’s 2004 schedule that have a winning record. Oakland has had positive results against those winning teams, though, including a 0-0 tie at Akron and a 3-0 win vs. Michigan State. Head coach Gary Parsons is 319-103-49 in his 24th year at Oakland.

Oakland returned nine starters this year and has allowed just five goals, with three of those coming in the opening weekend at UCLA and Cal State-Fullerton. OU ranks first, by far, in the MCC in fewest goals allowed (5), and Grizzly goalkeeper Jeff Wiese leads the league with a 0.39 goals allowed average. Oakland ranks 2nd in the MCC in scoring (21 goals), and is led by Chris Edwards with 16 points (1.45 ppg).

OSU HISTORY VS. OAKLAND
Ohio State leads the all-time series against Oakland 3-0-1. The Buckeyes and Grizzlies first met at the Bowling Green tournament in 2000 and have played every year since.

Year Location Winner Score 2003 Columbus tie 2-2 2002 Rochester, Mich. OSU 3-0 2001 Columbus OSU 1-0 2000 Bowling Green OSU 4-1

LAST YEAR VS. OAKLAND
Ohio State and Oakland battled to a 2-2 draw in double-overtime last season in Columbus. The Buckeyes held leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but the Grizzlies were able to answer both times and keep Ohio State out of the goal in the two extra sessions despite a 5-0 shot advantage for the Buckeyes in the two overtime periods. Ohio State out-shot Oakland 20-13 in the match and had a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks. A total of 44 fouls were called.

Peter Withers scored the first OSU goal off an assist from Eric Schwebach, while David Ridenhour scored the next Buckeye goal on a penalty kick after Sammy Tamporello was taken down in the goalkeeper box. For Oakland, Ryan Rzepka had a goal and an assist and Bret McNabb also had a goal.

INDIANA VISITS COLUMBUS SUNDAY
Up next for Ohio State, defending national champion Indiana visits Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. match against the Buckeyes, who will be celebrating Senior Day. On Sunday Indiana lost its first Big Ten regular season match since 1995 with a 1-0 defeat at home to Northwestern. The game will be preceded by an Ohio State women’s soccer match vs. Loyola, which kicks off at noon.

LIVE RADIO AND LIVE STATS ON WEB
Ohio State’s student radio station, The Underground (www.underground.fm/sports) will broadcast the OSU-Indiana match Sunday.

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.

BURSE RECEIVES BIG TEN HONORS
Buckeye goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Oct. 4 as he collected a career-high seven saves in leading the Buckeyes to a 1-0 shutout over Wisconsin.

“It means a lot, but more importantly we’re 1-0 in the Big Ten and the team played well,” Burse said. “Hopefully it’ll continue into this weekend against Michigan State.”

Burse had three saves in the first half and then four saves in the second half. He went horizontal into the upper left corner of the net for a pair of saves in the 61st and 64th minutes and his one-handed deflection of a Badger shot with one second remaining in the match sealed the win for the Buckeyes.

OSU COACHES COMMENTS
Head Coach John Bluem
Oct. 18, on Ohio State’s four consecutive shutouts
“It has taken us awhile, but we have hit a nice level of consistency. The guys are excited about what’s happening. We have finally found a system that has our best players all on the field together.

“Moving Kyle Veris to a central defensive role was a big key. It was kind of an experiment, but he has played every minute there since then and established himself as an important part of the team. It also allowed Balc to move up to a forward spot and he has done very well there. We have also been injury free.”

Oct. 17, on becoming OSU’s all-time wins leader
“We have had some great players at Ohio State and it’s an honor to hold that record at such a great institution. I have had the good fortune to work in a fully funded program and with great facilities. Ohio State has great tradition in soccer and has had some great coaches and to be at the top of that list is quite an honor.”

Oct. 17, on being 3-0-0 in the Big Ten
“We still have three very difficult games ahead of us, but it’s nice to have put together some good results through the first half of the conference season. That will help with our confidence to know that we’re competitive and have a great chance at doing well in the Big Ten.”

Oct. 5, on appearing in the regional poll
“It would be great to string together some more wins still and move up in the regional poll. Just about everyone in the regional poll is on our schedule, so it gives you an opportunity that if you beat the teams on your schedule you’ll be ranked in the region. It’s a show of respect and a show of results. People are now recognizing that even though we’re 4-4-1, we’ve played a very tough schedule.”

Oct. 5, on the OSU offensive improvement
“We’re definitely more dangerous this year, which makes us a harder team to play against. As long as you have the ability to get forward and put pressure on the other team, they have to play more conservatively and keep people back because they are concerned about you scoring goals against them. We didn’t have that threat a year ago so teams were able to shut us down with fewer numbers.”

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.”

### Go Bucks! ###