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Nov. 3, 2006

Box Score

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It will be host and No. 2 seed Ohio State against No. 1 seed and 10th-ranked Indiana in the Big Ten men’s soccer championship game at noon Sunday after both teams notched 1-0 semifinal wins Friday night in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes (11-6-3) eliminated No. 6 seed Michigan, while the Hoosiers (13-4-2) knocked off No. 4 seed Penn State.

Ohio State held Michigan scoreless for the second time this season and the Buckeyes scored their game-winner just 39 seconds into the second half to advance to their third Big Ten championship game since the postseason event was first played in 1991. Michigan sees its season come to an end at 7-10-4.

When Ohio State hosted the Big Ten Championship in 2000, the Buckeyes knocked off Indiana 1-0 in the semifinals before topping Penn State in overtime for their first Big Ten title.

“We’re delighted to play at home for the Big Ten championship,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “Being a Big Ten champion is something every athlete here dreams about. Playing it against Indiana makes it even sweeter because they’re the best program in our conference. They’re the team to beat.”

OSU junior goalkeeper Casey Latchem (Perrysburg, Ohio/Perrysburg) had four saves as the Buckeyes withstood eight Michigan corner kicks in the game and 11 Wolverine shots in the second half alone. It was Ohio State’s and Latchem’s 10th shutout this season, which are one shy of the school record.

OSU sophomore midfielder Geoff Marsh (North Olmsted, Ohio/North Olmsted) put away the deciding goal after the Buckeyes two forwards brought the ball into the attacking third. Junior Ryan Kustos (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) brought the ball up the left flank and delivered it to junior Xavier Balc (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) at the top of the 18-yard box. Balc, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, drew a Michigan defender and slid the ball to the right side of the penalty area to Marsh, whose shot flew over Wolverine goalkeeper Patrick Sperry and into the left corner of the net.

The goal for Marsh was his third of the season. The assist for Balc was his league-leading ninth of the season, while the helper for Kustos was his second.

After knocking off Michigan State in the quarterfinals Thursday, Ohio State is now 8-1-1 in its last 10 games, a run that has put the Buckeyes in position for a shot at their third-consecutive NCAA tournament bid, which would be a first for the program.

Post Game Quotes

John Bluem, Ohio State Head Coach
On the game
“It was an exceptionally hard-fought game tonight. I think the last three games Michigan has played probably were the best of the season for them. We were able to score really early in the second half on a very well set-up goal. That was the difference of the game.”

On the Big Ten championship game vs. Indiana
“It’s the third time we’ve been to the final since I’ve been here. We’re delighted to play at home for the Big Ten championship. Being a Big Ten champion is something every athlete here dreams about. Playing it against Indiana makes it even sweeter because they’re the best program in our conference. They’re the team to beat.”

On the possibility of making it into the NCAA tournament
“I hope that two wins in this tournament and what we’ve done down the stretch would put us in the NCAA tournament. I hope we have earned an at-large bid, regardless of the result on Sunday.”

Eric Brunner, Ohio State junior defender
On the game
“We played really well tonight. We came out pumped up. Michigan is a really good team so it’s great to come out with the win.”

On the shutout
“It’s a great feeling to come out with the shutout. We didn’t want to give up any goals and to do that just boosts us more for the Indiana game on Sunday.”

Steve Burns, Michigan Head Coach
On the game
“We want to wish Ohio State the best of luck in the championship. They capitalized on the chance for an early goal – and in soccer that’s the game. I am proud of how the team played. We are a young team and they did a good job. We are a good team. Now the key is finding ways to go from good to great.”

Perica Marosevic, Michigan freshman forward
On playing Ohio State
“It doesn’t get much better than when Ohio State and Michigan play each other. Every year it is a great rivalry. It is an honor to play against Ohio State. There is always great competition.”

On the game
“It was a rough game. We knew it would be challenging. Ohio State took advantage and we, unfortunately, didn’t that the initiative to do the same. But it was a great game.”