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Buckeyes’ seven-game unbeaten streak has tied school record

SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio
The regular season comes to an end Sunday for the 20th-ranked Ohio State men’s soccer team as the Buckeyes take on No. 18 Michigan State at 2 p.m. at Old College Field in East Lansing, Mich.

Ohio State is 10-3-4 overall, 3-1-1 in the Big Ten and 2-2-3 on the road this season, while Michigan State is 11-3-3 overall, 2-2-1 in the Big Ten and 7-0-1 at home, having allowed only four goals at Old College Field.

A win or a tie will give the Buckeyes a program-record eight-game unbeaten streak and assure them of at least a No. 2 seed going into the Big Ten Championship next week back at Michigan State. If Ohio State wins Sunday and Indiana ties or loses at Wisconsin, the Buckeyes will earn their first No. 1 seed in the Championship.

More impressive than its position in the polls, Ohio State checked in at No. 7 in the latest national Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report released Tuesday. Michigan State is No. 29 in that report.

LIVE STATS ON THE WEB
Live stats of the match at Michigan State Sunday will be available at www.MSUSpartans.com.

SENIORS TIE WINS RECORD
The seven-member Ohio State senior class already owns the best winning percentage by an OSU class (.619) and has tied the program record for wins by a class with 44. The current OSU seniors are 44-25-11 overall during the last four years to eclipse the 2002 senior Buckeyes, who previously held both records with a 44-27-7 record (.609).

Since they arrived in 2004, the 2007 OSU seniors have helped lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten regular-season co-championship (2004), two trips to the NCAA tournament (2004, 2005) and to Ohio State’s first Sweet 16 appearance (2004).

The senior class includes forward Xavier Balc (Ohio State’s all-time assist leader), defender Eric Brunner (Ohio State’s first MAC Hermann Trophy candidate), goalkeeper Casey Latchem (Top 4 all-time at OSU in shutouts and goals against average), forwards Eric Edwards and Ryan Kustos and midfielders Kyle Retzlaff and Steven Traeger.

LATCHEM EARNS NATIONAL TEAM OF THE WEEK HONOR
Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem was named to the national team of the week by College Soccer News Monday. He had seven saves Saturday in Ohio State’s 1-0 overtime win over Michigan for his eighth shutout of the season, which is tied for the Big Ten lead. During the Buckeyes’ current six-game unbeaten streak, Latchem has allowed only two goals and notched 30 saves. His 20 career shutouts are second all-time at Ohio State.

Latchem was not selected the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Monday, but he earned the league’s honor two of the previous three weeks. 

OSU AMONG OFFENSIVE LEADERS
Ohio State leads the Big Ten in shots (293, 17.2 per game) and corner kicks (117, 6.9 per game), ranks second in assists (29, 1.7 per game) and fourth in goals (26, 1.5 per game).

BUCKEYES ARE No. 7 IN 2ND RPI
The second national Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report was released by the NCAA Tuesday and the Buckeyes checked in at No. 7. All seven members of the Big Ten Conference are in the Top 55 and three are in the Top 10 (No. 3 Northwestern, No. 4 Indiana and No. 7 Ohio State).

Ohio State owns a 5-2-2 record in games against team’s in the Top 55 of that RPI report, including wins over No. 26 Michigan, No. 32 West Virginia, No. 42 Wisconsin, No. 44 Old Dominion and No. 55 Penn State. The losses are to No. 3 Northwestern and No. 23 UCLA and the ties are to No. 4 Indiana and No. 12 Akron.

In the first RPI report Oct. 15, the Buckeyes checked in at No. 13, which ranked third in the Big Ten behind No. 2 Northwestern and No. 8 Indiana.

BUCKEYES IN THE POLLS
Ohio State is ranked as high as No. 20 in the national polls this week, that coming from College Soccer News. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 21 by Soccer Times, No. 22 by Soccer America and No. 23 by the NSCAA.

In the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region, Ohio State checks in at No. 4 behind Indiana, Notre Dame and Northwestern. The Buckeyes have been ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation this season (Sept. 10, Soccer Times).

THE STREAK IS AT SEVEN
Ohio State’s current seven-game unbeaten streak has tied the program record, set three times previously, including 1977 (7-0-0), 2000 (6-0-1) and 2001 (6-0-1). Here is a look at those seven games:

1. Oct 3 vs. Cal St. Bakersfield: W 1-0 – Late goal from Doug Verhoff – header off Balc free kick
2. Oct. 6 vs. Penn State: W, 1-0 – PSU allows own goal after long throw in from Tim Gabel
3. Oct. 10 vs. Oakland: W, 2-1 – Eric Brunner delivers late game-winner with header off Balc corner kick
4. Oct. 13 at Wisconsin: W, 2-1 – Verhoff scores early, Matt Gold delivers game-winner
5. Oct. 21 at No. 10 Indiana: T 0-0 (2 ot) – Latchem’s seven saves give Buckeyes first ever shutout in Bloomington
6. Oct. 27 vs. Michigan: W, 1-0 (ot) – on senior day, Gabel scores golden goal in first minute of OT off Balc corner kick
7. Oct. 31 at Louisville: T, 1-1 (2ot) – Balc scores early

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
The Buckeyes have scored 26 goals this season (1.4 per game) compared to 15 for their opponents (0.8 per game). Of those 26 goals, 17 are through the run of play, five are from corner kicks (3 by Tim Gabel, 2 by Eric Brunner), three are own goals and one is a penalty kick.

Ohio State, which leads the Big Ten in shots, has out-shot 14 of its 17 opponents and leads that category overall 293-195 (17.2-11.5 per game). The Buckeyes’ shots on goal advantage is 108-73 and their corner kick lead is 117-68.

Twelve Buckeyes have scored a goal and eight players have at least two goals each. Defenders Brunner and Gabel, along with senior forward Xavier Balc, lead the way with three goals each. Balc leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally with 11 assists, which is an Ohio State single-season record. Balc’s 32 career assists are already a school record.

Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem owns a 0.85 goals-against average and eight shutouts in 17 outings this season and has collected 56 saves.

The Buckeyes finished 11-7-3 overall last season and owned a final RPI of No. 28, but were surprisingly not selected for the NCAA tournament. Ohio State dropped a 1-0 decision to Indiana in the Big Ten championship game and was ranked No. 5 in the NSCAA Great Lakes Region. The Buckeyes went 8-2-1 in their last 11 games of the 2006 season, with their only two losses coming to Indiana.

Ohio State outscored its opponents 26-17 in 2006 and led the opposition in shots (351-242), shots on goal (128-93) and corner kicks (97-80).
Last season, Balc led the Big Ten in points (23), assists (9) and shots (75) and tied for the league-lead in goals (7). Latchem led the Big Ten with 10 shutouts last year and posted a 0.79 goals-against average, which was the second-best season in Ohio State history.

LATCHEM, VERHOFF EARN ACADEMIC HONORS
Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem and sophomore defender Doug Verhoff were both named first-team Academic All-District Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). As first-teamers, they will now be placed on the Academic All-America ballot, which will be voted upon later this month.
Verhoff owns a GPA over 3.6 in microbiology, while Latchem’s GPA is over 3.3 in communications.

A total of five Buckeyes were nominated Oct. 16 for the academic squad, including Latchem and Verhoff along with juniors Tim Gabel, Geoff Marsh and Patrick Roan. To be nominated, a student-athlete must be a starter or have played in most of the games and must be at least a sophomore with a GPA over 3.20.

BALC NOW OWNS BOTH OSU ASSISTS RECORDS
Senior forward Xavier Balc is already Ohio State’s all-time assist leader with 32 and now he is the single-season record holder, as well, after delivering his 11th helper of the season Oct. 27 in overtime in Ohio State’s 1-0 win over Michigan. 

Entering this week, Balc’s 11 assists ranked second in the nation. Earlier this season, Balc notched an OSU record four assists in the Buckeyes’ 6-1 win over Cal State Fullerton, which stand as the most helpers in a game in the nation this season.

In addition to his single-season and career assists records, Balc also owns the Ohio State record for career shots (230) and single-season shots (75 in 2006) and ranks fourth all-time in points (68, 18 goals, 32 assists). A first-team All-Big Ten selection last year, he was named to the Top Drawer Soccer national team of the week Sept. 17.

NOTING THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Buckeyes are 13-22-2 all-time against Michigan State. At home in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the Buckeyes are 4-0-1 against the Spartans, but they are 2-15-1 all-time at Old College Field in East Lansing. Since 1995, the series is deadlocked at 7-7-2.

SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
No. 18 Michigan State is 11-3-3 overall this season and currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten with a 2-2-1 league mark. The Ohio State game Sunday marks the Spartans’ final regular-season game this season at home, where they are 7-0-1.

The Spartans have eight starters back from their 2006 team that went 10-7-2 overall and finished sixth in the Big Ten at 1-3-2. Michigan State is coached by Joe Baum, who is the second coach in Big Ten history to reach 300 career wins.

The Spartans are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 2-0 loss to unranked Cincinnati Wednesday. Michigan State is led by junior forward Doug DeMartin, who tops the Big Ten rankings in shots (58), points (22) and goals (11).

LAST YEAR: OSU TOPS MSU TWICE
The Buckeyes beat Michigan State twice last year in Columbus in back-to-back games to end the regular season and begin the Big Ten Championship. The regular-season result was 2-0, while the Big Ten quarterfinal match went to Ohio State 3-1. The box scores from those two matches are located in the stats pack.

BUCKEYES WITH POINTS AGAINST MSU
Senior Eric Edwards scored twice against Michigan State last year. Senior Xavier Balc owns a goal and an assist in four career games against Michigan State, while senior Ryan Kustos and junior Geoff Marsh both own a goal and senior Eric Brunner and sophomore Andrew Magill both have an assist.

BACK TO MICHIGAN FOR THESE TWO BUCKEYES
Ohio State seniors Eric Brunner and Xavier Balc were teammates this past summer for the Michigan Bucks in the Premier Development League and helped lead their team to the PDL championship game in Laredo, Texas, Aug. 11.

OTHER OSU-MSU CONNECTIONS
Ohio State sophomore forward Andrew Magill played in the Illinois Olympic Development Program with Michigan State sophomore defender Jake Fullerton. OSU senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem and senior midfielder Kyle Retzlaff were ODP teammates with two Spartans – redshirt junior defender David Hertel and senior forward Kenzo Webster.

ERIC BRUNNER – HERMANN CANDIDATE UPDATE
Senior defender Eric Brunner was named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy preseason watch list Aug. 8. He owns three goals this season – all of which were game-winners. Brunner earned a spot on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week Sept. 10 after being named the MVP of the Penn State Nike Classic Sept. 9.

Brunner was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week Sept. 3 as the Buckeyes posted two shutouts and won the title of the Ohio State Wolstein Classic (beat No. 13 West Virginia, tied Syracuse).

A 6-foot-4-inch central defender, Brunner was a 2006 first-team All-Big Ten selection and is the first Buckeye to appear on a watch list for the trophy given annually to the player of the year in NCAA Div. I soccer. He was named a preseason third-team All-American by College Soccer News.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN STATS
Senior Xavier Balc leads the Big Ten in assists (11, .7 per game, second nationally) and ranks second in shots (56, 3.3 per game). Juniors Geoff Marsh and Tim Gabel are tied for 10th in assists (4). Senior Eric Brunner is tied for third in game-winning goals (3). Senior Casey Latchem is ranked fourth in goals against average (0.85) and is tied for first in shutouts (8).

ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE
Ohio State’s 10-3-4 record this season has come against quality opponents that are a combined 142-99-44 (.575). The Buckeyes’ three losses are to teams with a combined record of 28-13-8 (UCLA, Northwestern, Wisconsin-Green Bay).

The results include wins over then-13th-ranked West Virginia (now No. 20, 11-5-1) and then-No. 25 Old Dominion (now 10-5-1) and ties at now-No. 22 Akron (12-3-2) and at now-No. 10 Indiana (12-4-2).

Although results from exhibition matches do not factor into a team’s record, note that Ohio State played to a 2-2 tie at now-No. 8 Creighton (9-1-4).

IN THE RECORD BOOK
Senior Xavier Balc is Ohio State’s all-time leader in career assists (32) and shots (230). He ranks eighth all-time in goals (18) and fourth in points (68). Balc’s 11 assists this season are an Ohio State single-season record. In 2006, he set an OSU record for shots in a season with 75 and had nine assists.

Goalkeeper Casey Latchem collected 10 shutouts in 2006, which were one shy of the single-season record. His 0.94 career goals against average is fourth all-time and his 20 career shutouts are second all-time. The record of 23.5 career shutouts is held by Kerry Thompson (1997-2001).

BLUEM IN 11TH SEASON AT OSU
Eleventh-year head coach John Bluem has guided the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles this decade and all four of the program’s NCAA tournament appearances (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005). His 2004 squad topped No. 11 Memphis and No. 9 Notre Dame in the postseason to advance to the Sweet 16.’ Bluem owns a record of 111-80-27 (.569) at Ohio State. His win total and win percentage are school records. Overall, his career record stands at 197-107-38 (.630), which includes six seasons at Fresno State.

OSU 3RD IN PRESEASON POLL
The Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll was released Aug. 17 and the Buckeyes checked in at No. 3 below Indiana and Northwestern. It marked the fifth-consecutive season the Hoosiers were picked to win the league after winning their 11th conference title last year with a 1-0 win over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

AWARD WINNERS RETURN
Ohio State had three first-team All-Big Ten selections in 2006 and two are back this season. Defender Eric Brunner, who is on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, and Xavier Balc, who is already the school’s all-time assists leader, return in 2007.

Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem and junior midfielder Geoff Marsh were both selected to the Big Ten All-Tournament team last year. Two current Buckeyes were named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team in their careers – Balc and junior Danny Irizarry.

BUCKEYES OWN .685 WIN PCT. IN JOMS
The Buckeyes are 50-20-11 (.685) in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1999. Ohio State won eight games (8-3-1) in the Jesse in 2006, the most in a single season. Ohio State’s best winning percentage at JOMS was in 2002 with a 7-1-1 record (.833), which included a facility-best six-game winning streak.

The Buckeyes set two stadium attendance records in 2006, one for a men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader (2,307 vs. Louisville Oct. 11) and the other for a single-session men’s soccer game (1,363 vs. Indiana Oct. 14).

BUCKEYES IN THE MLS
Seven Buckeyes have been Major League Soccer draft picks since 2003, which is the second-highest total among Big Ten schools behind only Indiana. Last January in the supplemental draft, defender Dustin Kirby was selected by Real Salt Lake. In the 2006 SuperDraft third round, defender Kyle Veris was taken at No. 25 overall by the L.A. Galaxy and goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. was selected at No. 30 by F.C. Dallas and was the first goalkeeper picked.

In the 2003 draft, forward Andy Rosenband and defender Jake Traeger (brother of current Buckeye Steven Traeger) were taken in the seventh round, while in 2005 forward Justin Cook and midfielder Sammy Tamporello were taken in the supplemental draft.

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Contact: Tim Stried, stried.3@osu.edu