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Aug. 20, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State men’s soccer team will take on Southern Methodist University Aug. 22 in Crew Stadium in a College Cup Preview Match. The exhibition match, which will not count towards either team’s 2003 record, will bring the preseason to a close. The Buckeyes will begin the regular season Aug. 29 and 31 on the west coast at the Cal State Fullerton Classic.

THE BROADCAST
The College Cup Preview Match will be broadcasted live by KBUX, The Ohio State University’s campus radio station. The game can be heard on the internet at www.underground.fm, with Aaron Stoller bringing the call and Kyle Markley adding commentary. KBUX will also broadcast Ohio State men’s soccer contests on Sept. 5 vs. Tulsa and Sept. 19 vs. Valparaiso.

PRESEASON POLL NOTES
In the College Soccer News.com preseason poll, SMU is ranked 6th, while Ohio State received votes but is not ranked in the Top 30. In that poll, six of Ohio State’s 2003 regular season opponents are ranked in the Top 30, including Maryland (1), UCLA (2), Penn State (7), Indiana (10), Michigan (29) and Bradley (30).

BUCKEYES, MUSTANGS MEET AGAIN
Ohio State and SMU also met in the 2001 College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium. The match ended in a 0-0 tie. Ohio State out-shot SMU 11-9, but did not convert on several close scoring opportunities. Following the 2001 regular season the Buckeyes made their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, while SMU went undefeated the entire season and climbed to a No. 1 national ranking before falling to St. John’s in the 2001 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

BUCKEYES HOST THIRD CC PREVIEW
This year’s match-up with SMU will mark the third consecutive year that Ohio State has a played a College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium. The Buckeyes tied SMU 0-0 in 2001 and were defeated 3-1 by Maryland to begin the 2002 season.

THE MATCHUP
Ohio State returns 19 letterwinners and eight starters from last season’s squad, which finished 11-7-1 overall and tied for second place in the Big 10. The Mustangs are coming off a 16-3-3 campaign and earned their second consecutive Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title while climbing as high as 12th in the national polls.

THE SERIES
Ohio State and SMU have met just one time on the soccer field, that coming in the 2001 College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium. That match ended in a 0-0 tie. The Buckeyes out-shot the Mustangs 11-9 and had several close scoring opportunities, including a 12-yard penalty kick in the final minute, but were kept out of the net.

AIMING FOR FIRST EXHIBITION WIN
Ohio State is looking for its first win in a College Cup Preview Match in this, its third try. The Buckeyes tied SMU 0-0 in 2001 and fell to Maryland 3-1 in 2002. The Buckeyes are also aiming to snap a three-game winless streak in exhibition play. OSU’s last exhibition win came on Aug. 18, 2001 with a 2-1 victory over Butler.

BLUEM IN SEVENTH YEAR AT OSU
Now in his seventh year at the helm of the Ohio State men’s soccer program, John Bluem has led the Buckeyes to the NCAA tournament in two of the past three seasons. Since his arrival in 1997, he has led the Buckeyes to at least 10 wins in five of his six seasons, including two-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in 2000 and 2001. His .585 winning percentage is the highest in OSU history and his 63 wins are approaching the school record of 72 held jointly by Al Bianco (1979-86) and Gary Avedikian (1987-96).

Now in his 13th season as a collegiate head soccer coach, Bluem sports a career record of 149-70-24 and has taken his teams to the NCAA Tournament six times. He has four Coach of the Year honors and one Regional Coach of the Year honor to his credit. In 2001 Bluem guided OSU to its highest ranking in program history, a No. 10 ranking in the NSCAA/adidas Men’s Division I National Poll.

Bluem’s career record at Ohio State now stands at 63-43-12 overall and 15-14-4 in the Big Ten.

Last fall Bluem was inducted into the Hartwick College (N.Y.) Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a three-year starting fullback for Hartwick from 1972-74. In his three seasons at Hartwick, the team compiled a 30-9-7 record, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament all three years. The 1974 team, of which Bluem was a member, reached the Final Four and finished third in the nation.

THE 2003 BUCKEYES
Ohio State said goodbye to a talented senior class in the offseason, which included Tony Earp, Todd Grossnickle, John Tomaino, Jake Traeger and Andy Rosenband. Four of those players received All-Big Ten honors last season, as did then-junior Justin Cook, who will also be absent from the OSU lineup in 2003 because of an injury suffered in May.

Despite those losses, however, Bluem returns 19 letterwinners, including six players that started at least eight games last fall and a total of 10 players that started at least one game. Among the veterans, leading scorers from last season include Sammy Tamporello (10 points), Kevin Nugent (8 points), Peter Withers (6 points), AJ Weber (6 points) and Jason Ryan (5 points).

The Buckeyes return three starters at the defender position, including seniors David Ridenhour and Matt McCune. Ridenhour will serve as the Buckeye captain this year. In goal, junior Chad Brown returns after posting a Big Ten-best eight shutouts in 2002.

For a complete season preview visit the men’s soccer web site at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

FOLLOW THE BUCKEYES ONLINE
Information on the Ohio State men’s soccer team and the 35 other Buckeye sports is available online at the official website of the Ohio State Athletic Department, ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

BLUEM COMMENTS, AUG. 18
On OSU’s intrasquad scrimmage 8/16
“We were pleased with the intrasquad scrimmage. First of all, from fitness standpoint, that was the fourth day of two-a-days, so it was the eighth practice session in four days and we got through two 40-minute halves and most of the players played the whole time. They were very competitive and played hard to the very end.

“Players didn’t switch from team to team, so it was a real competitive game and I think we got a lot out of it. We learned a lot about ourselves and as a coaching staff we saw some things out of some players that were just so worn down. So we were pleased with it, from a fitness standpoint and a competitive standpoint and we also excited about the level of play.”

On the strengths of the Buckeyes so far
“I think the freshman group is as strong or stronger than we expected. They are a very talented group and they are working hard to push the veteran players. The veterans are also striving to push. Right now I’m real pleased with the effort from all the players.

“We’re a little bit beat up right now and we’re starting to get a few nagging injuries so we might have to slow things down a bit and let some people recover before Friday night.”

On SMU
“We don’t see them every year, so all we know that they have a very talented team from what you can read. They’re a highly ranked team in the preseason polls. Their speed of play and tactical understanding of the game is going to be very good. It’s going to be a real stretch for our players. It’s against a very good team that’s going to stretch us and so we’ll learn a lot about ourselves and see who can do it and who can’t do it against one of the better teams in the country.”

PLAYER COMMENTS, AUG. 15
Matt McCune
On preseason camp so far
“It’s a lot of fun. We’re all working hard. The freshman look good.”

On the senior leadership in 2003
“I think we are leading the team, both on the field and off it. I think we’re doing our jobs as seniors and I think we’ll have a successful year because of that.”

On SMU
“We’re really looking forward to it. I think they’re ranked sixth now and it’ll be a big challenge for us, but it’ll be a lot of fun.”

On the OSU defensive unit
“I think our back four is our biggest strength. It was our biggest strength last year and I think we only lost one guy from it so I think it’s the most solid part of our team. And we do have some good attacking players so we’re looking forward to watching them play.”

AJ Weber
On the strengths of the 2003 squad
“The defense was a very big strength, with eight or nine shutouts last year and we return three (starters) back there, we return a pretty solid core of players and have a very talented freshman class, so if we gel together we should put it together for the rest of the season.”

On the 2003 preseason so far
“Everyone is working extremely hard. Everybody seems to have a smile on their face. No one is complaining too much. It is preseason, we have to get our job done and prepare for the rest of the season.”

On SMU
“I remember they’re very talented with a lot of skill. They’re a fast paced team and very disciplined. We played well (against them in 2001) and ended in a 0-0 tie. It should be a pretty good game this year. We’re looking forward to it.”

NEXT UP FOR THE BUCKEYES
The Buckeyes will get the 2003 season underway next weekend with a trip to the west coast for the Cal State Fullerton Classic in Fullerton, Calif. Ohio State will meet tournament host Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. and will conclude the tournament on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. against defending national champion UCLA.