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Fifth-seeded Buckeyes riding school-record 11-game unbeaten streak

SETTING THE SCENE
COLUMBUS, Ohio
A 17-day layoff comes to an end Wednesday for the No. 5 seed Ohio State men’s soccer team as the Buckeyes host Louisville at 5 p.m. in a second-round NCAA tournament game in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Ohio State is 13-3-5 overall and carries a school-record 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3) into the game. Louisville is 11-6-4 overall and is coming off a 1-0 first-round home win over 20th-ranked Duke Friday night.

Entering the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 14 in the nation, while Louisville was ranked as high as No. 22.

The Cardinals are 3-4-1 on the road this season, while the Buckeyes are 5-1-1 at home, including a 1-1-0 mark against ranked teams.

These two teams met Oct. 31 in Louisville, Ky., and played to a 1-1 tie. The Buckeyes are 4-0-1 all-time against the Cardinals in Columbus and lead the series 6-4-1 overall.

Ohio State is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA tournament and is a seeded team for the first time. The first-round bye means the Buckeyes have not played since winning the Big Ten championship Nov. 11 in a shootout over 10th-ranked Indiana.

Wednesday marks the first time Ohio State has hosted a second-round NCAA tournament game. Twice previously the Buckeyes have hosted first-round games, falling to Creighton in 2000 and beating Memphis in 2004.

NEXT UP FOR THE WINNER
The winner of the Louisville-Ohio State match Wednesday will play a third-round game Sunday against either defending national champion UC-Santa Barbara, which is the No. 12 seed in the tournament, or Washington. Those two teams meet in a second-round game at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday in Santa Barbara, Calif.

If the Buckeyes win Wednesday, they will host a third-round game Sunday afternoon.

LIVE STATS, AUDIO ON THE WEB
Ohio State’s student radio station will broadcast the match Wednesday live on its web site at www.OhioStateSports.net, with Josh Ellis and Gabe Norris bringing the call.

CSTV’s GameTracker is the official live stats home of the NCAA tournament and will be available at both Ohio State’s official web site, www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com, and the official web site of the NCAA, www.NCAAsports.com.

OSU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Ohio State is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA tournament, all of which have come this decade. The Buckeyes are 1-1 at home in the NCAA tournament and 2-4 overall. This season marks the second time Ohio State has earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the first coming in 2000.

Year  Opponent      Location             Result
2000  Creighton     Columbus, Ohio       L, 1-0
2001  American      Winston-Salem, N.C.  L, 2-1
2004  Memphis       Columbus, Ohio       W, 1-0
      Notre Dame    Notre Dame, Ind.     W, 2-1
      Duke          Durham, N.C.         L, 3-0
2005  Santa Clara   Santa Clara, Calif.  L, 1-0
2007  Louisville    Columbus, Ohio       5 p.m.

THE BIG TEN CHAMPION BUCKEYES
Ohio State enters the NCAA tournament with an automatic bid after winning the Big Ten championship Nov. 11 over Indiana in a penalty kick shootout, 5-4. The Buckeyes were the No. 2 seed in the championship and ranked No. 18, while the Hoosiers were the No. 1 seed and ranked No. 10.

At Old College Field in East Lansing, Mich., Ohio State beat No. 7 seed Michigan, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and knocked off No. 3 seed and 14th-ranked Northwestern, 1-0, in the semifinals. That set up a rematch of the 2006 Big Ten Championship against Indiana, which was won by the Hoosiers, 1-0, in Columbus.

For the second time this season, Ohio State and Indiana played to a 0-0 tie, sending the match to a penalty kick shootout. OSU senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem saved three PKs in the shootout and sophomore Doug Verhoff’s conversion in period seven, the second sudden-death period, ended the contest.

OSU SENIORS OWN WINS RECORD
The seven-member Ohio State senior class is the winningest class in the history of the men’s soccer program both in terms of wins (47) and winning percentage (.631). The class is 47-25-12 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 championship (2007), a Big Ten regular-season co-championship (2004), three trips to the NCAA tournament (2004, 2005, 2007) 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 (OSU all-time leader in shutouts and goals against average), forwards Eric Edwards and Ryan Kustos and midfielders Kyle Retzlaff and Steven Traeger.

BUCKEYES IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Four current Buckeyes were in the starting lineup in Ohio State’s last NCAA tournament game, that coming in 2005 at Santa Clara. Those four include forward Xavier Balc, midfielders Danny Irizarry and Geoff Marsh and defender Eric Brunner.

Balc has played in four NCAA tournament games, as has forward Ryan Kustos, who is the only current Buckeye with a point in the NCAA tournament. That came Nov. 23, 2004, when he scored the game-winning goal in the second round at Notre Dame.

OSU AMONG OFFENSIVE LEADERS
In the regular season, Ohio State led the Big Ten in shots (301, 16.7 per game) and corner kicks (125, 6.9 per game), tied for first in assists (31, 1.7 per game) and ranked fourth in goals (28, 1.6 per game).

THE STREAK IS AT 11
Ohio State’s current 11-game unbeaten streak is a program record, surpassing the previous best unbeaten streak of seven games set three times previously, including 1977 (7-0-0), 2000 (6-0-1) and 2001 (6-0-1). Here is a look at those 11 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 (2ot) – 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
8. Nov. 4 at No. 18 Michigan State: W, 2-0 – Balc scores game-winner in eighth minute, assists on Brunner goal in 26th minute
9. Nov. 8 vs. Michigan, Big Ten Quarterfinals at MSU, W 1-0 – Balc
10. Nov. 9 vs. No. 14 Northwestern, Big Ten Semifinals at MSU, W 1-0 – Balc
11. Nov. 11 vs. No. 10 Indiana, Big Ten Championship at MSU, T 1-0 (won 5-4 on penalty kicks) – Latchem saves three PKs

OHIO STATE AT A GLANCE
The Buckeyes have scored 30 goals this season (1.3 per game) and allowed 15 (0.7 per game). Of those 30 goals, 20 are through the run of play, six are from corner kicks (3 by Tim Gabel, 3 by Eric Brunner), three are own goals and one is a penalty kick.

Ohio State, which led the Big Ten in shots, has out-shot 15 of its 21 opponents and leads that category overall 345-258 (16.4-12.3 per game). The Buckeyes’ shots on goal advantage is 132-92 and their corner kick lead is 136-91.

Twelve Buckeyes have scored a goal and eight players have at least two goals each. Senior forward Xavier Balc leads the way with six goals and a school-record 12 assists. He has scored or assisted on Ohio State’s last six goals. Following Balc on the stat sheet are Gabel (three goals, five assists) and Brunner (four goals).

Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem owns a 0.69 goals-against average and a school-record 12 shutouts in 21 outings this season and has collected 74 saves. He has allowed only three goals in the last 11 games.

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.

NOTING THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Buckeyes are 6-4-2 all-time against Louisville and 4-0-1 against the Cardinals when playing in Columbus. Since 1994, the series is deadlocked at 4-4-2.

EARLIER THIS SEASON – TIE AT UL
Earlier this season, Ohio State and Louisville played to a 1-1 tie Oct. 31 in Louisville, Ky. OSU senior Xavier Balc scored his third goal of the season unassisted at the 13:57 mark to give the Buckeyes an early lead. Louisville tied the game at 1-1 in the 35th minute when leading scorer Marco Terminesi converted his seventh goal of the season.

Balc took a game-high five shots, while senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem had three saves in 110 minutes in goal.

The Buckeyes outshot the Cardinals 14-11, but Louisville had the edge in corner kicks, 7-4. Ohio State committed 18 fouls compared to 12 for UL.
The box score from that match is located in the stats pack.

ABOUT THE CARDINALS
Louisville, which is making its first NCAA tournament appearance, finished second in the Big East Red Division standings and fell to Connecticut in the semifinals of the conference tournament. UL allows only 9.2 shots a game and owns a +10 goal differential (31-21).

The Cardinals (11-6-4) were ranked No. 23 in the last RPI index (Nov. 11) and are ranked as high as No. 23 in the nation. UL knocked off Duke, which was No. 34 in the RPI, last Friday night at home to improve to 7-1-2 in Louisville this season. The Cardinals are 3-4-2 on the road.

Nine starters are back from UL’s 2006 team that went 5-10-3. Head coach Ken Lolla is in his second season with the Cardinals after spending the previous 13 seasons leading a nationally prominent Akron program.

Four Louisville players have double-digit point totals, including Marco Terminesi (eight goals, three assists), Aaron Clapham (five goals, four assists), Frank Jonke (five goals, four assists) and Gerardo Chavez (three goals, seven assists).

LAST YEAR: LIGHTNING ENDS OSU-UL MEETINGS EARLY IN JOMS
Last year in Columbus, the Buckeyes got a goal from Eric Brunner in the 66th minute and nine minutes later the skies opened for a rain and lightning storm that ended the match with 15:40 still on the clock. Brunner’s goal was on a header from 5 yards out and came off a corner kick by Xavier Balc. The box score from that match is located in the stats pack.

BUCKEYES WITH POINTS AGAINST LOUISVILLE
OSU senior Xavier Balc owns a goal and an assist in three career games against Louisville. Senior Eric Brunner scored last season in a 1-0 win over the Cardinals in Columbus. Juniors Danny Irizarry and Geoff Marsh both scored in Ohio State’s 3-1 win at Louisville in 2005, while sophomores Scott Marguglio and Andrew Magill both had an assist in that game.

BUCKEYES-CARDINALS CONNECTIONS
Ohio State head coach John Bluem was a graduate assistant coach at Akron in 1983. Louisville head coach Ken Lolla was the head at Akron for 13 seasons (1993-2005).

Ohio State’s Sam Scales is from Louisville. Five U of L players are from Ohio, including Central Ohio native J.T. Murray (Grove City), who is a freshman midfielder for the Cardinals. Murray played club soccer with OSU freshmen midfielders Konrad Warzycha (Dublin Jerome) and Nick Galiardi (Gahanna Lincoln). OSU freshman goalkeeper Ryan Dalton was a high teammate of UL sophomore forward Bryan Kanu. Dalton also played club soccer with UL freshman midfielder Austin Berry (Cincinnati Country Day).

PARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS?
Ohio State freshman forward Nowa Thiam lived in Paris for several years and speaks in French with family and some friends. Wednesday he could speak French with Louisville junior midfielder Gerard Votier, who is from Paris.

COMMON OPPONENTS
Ohio State and Louisville share only two opponents this season, those being West Virginia and Indiana. The Buckeyes beat West Virginia 1-0 in their season opener, while the Cardinals tied WVU 2-2 in the Big East quarterfinals and won 3-1 in a shootout. Ohio State tied Indiana twice, both by 0-0 scores, including in the Big Ten championship game which the Buckeyes won 5-4 in a shootout. Louisville beat the Hoosiers 2-1 in overtime in Louisville.

BUCKEYES ADD ANOTHER FAN
Just a few hours before Ohio State gathered to watch the NCAA tournament selection show Nov. 19, OSU assistant coach Andy Brinkman and his wife Stacey welcomed their second child, Lucas Martin. Perhaps a future goalkeeper like his father, Lucas checked in at 7 pounds, nine ounces and was just shy of 21 inches long. He joins a sister, Grace.

ALL-BIG TEN HONORS GO TO…
Senior forward Xavier Balc was named the 2007 Big Ten Player of the Year and was joined on the first team by senior defender Eric Brunner and junior midfielder Roger Espinoza.

Junior midfielder Danny Irizarry was a second-team selection and midfielder Matt Gold was named to the all-freshman team.
Balc is Ohio State’s second Big Ten Player of the Year, joining Justin Cook (2004). Balc and Brunner were unanimous first-team selections the last two seasons.

OSU AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
Since Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium opened in 1999, Ohio State has hosted 13 ranked opponents and has gone 5-7-1 in those games. The Buckeyes are 1-1-0 against opponents at home this season, beating No. 13 West Virginia 1-0 Aug. 31 before falling to No. 5 Northwestern 5-0 Sept. 23.

BALC EARNS THREE NATIONAL TEAM OF WEEK HONORS
Senior forward Xavier Balc scored two goals and had an assist in the last week of the regular season and was named to three national teams of the week Nov. 5 (College Soccer News, Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer).

Balc’s school-record 12 assists this season lead the Big Ten and are tied for second-most in the nation. With six goals, Balc’s 24 points also lead the Big Ten.

LATCHEM AND VERHOFF EARN ACADEMIC HONORS
Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem and sophomore defender Doug Verhoff were both named first-team Academic All-District Nov. 1 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). As first-teamers, they are now 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 communication.

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.

BUCKEYES IN THE POLLS
Ohio State is ranked No. 14 in each of the national polls entering the NCAA tournament. In the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region, Ohio State checked in at No. 3 behind Indiana and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have been ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation this season (Sept. 10, Soccer Times).

BALC OWNS FIVE OSU RECORDS
Senior forward Xavier Balc is Ohio State’s all-time assist leader with 33 and his 12 assists this season are the OSU single-season record.

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 (245) and single-season shots (75 in 2006) and ranks fourth all-time in points (75, 21 goals, 33 assists).

A first-team All-Big Ten selection last year, Balc was named to the Top Drawer Soccer national team of the week Sept. 17.

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 Oct. 29. He had seven saves Oct. 27 in Ohio State’s 1-0 overtime win over Michigan for his eighth shutout of the season. During the Buckeyes’ current 11-game unbeaten streak, Latchem has allowed only three goals and notched 36 saves. His 24 career shutouts are an OSU record.

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 four goals this season – three of which were game-winners. Brunner, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, 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
In the final regular-season Big Ten statistics, senior Xavier Balc led the Big Ten in assists (12, .7 per game, tied for second nationally) and ranked second in shots (57, 3.2 per game). Senior Eric Brunner was tied for third in game-winning goals (3). Senior Casey Latchem ranked third in goals against average (0.80) and was tied for first in shutouts (9).

ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE
Ohio State’s 13-3-5 record this season has come against opponents that are a combined 210-137-72 (.587). The Buckeyes’ three losses are to teams with a combined record of 32-17-12 (UCLA, Northwestern, Wisconsin-Green Bay).

IN THE RECORD BOOK
Senior Xavier Balc is Ohio State’s all-time leader in career assists (33) and shots (245). He ranks seventh all-time in goals (21) and fourth in points (75). Balc’s 12 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 owns Ohio State records for career shutouts (24) and single-season shutouts (12 this season). Currently, his 0.69 goals against average this season and 0.86 career GAA are both school records.

BLUEM IN 11TH SEASON AT OSU
Eleventh-year head coach John Bluem has guided the Buckeyes to three Big Ten titles this decade and all five of the program’s NCAA tournament appearances (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007). 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 114-80-28 (.577) at Ohio State. His win total and win percentage are school records. Overall, his career record stands at 200-107-39 (.634), 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 an attendance record Oct. 27 against Michigan with a crowd of 1,734, which marked a new high for a single-session men’s soccer game. The record attendance for a men’s and women’s double-header is 2,307, set Oct. 11, 2006 against Louisville.
 
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