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Oct. 6, 2004

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SETTING THE SCENE
Having won three of its last four matches and now second in the Big Ten standings, the Ohio State men’s soccer team hosts Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes (4-4-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) are coming off a 1-0 shutout of Wisconsin Sunday to elevate their overall record to .500 and win their 11th consecutive Big Ten opener.

On Tuesday the NSCAA (nscaa.com) released its regional and national polls, and the Buckeyes are receiving votes in the Great Lakes regional poll.

“It would be great to string together some more wins still and move up in the regional poll,” head coach John Bluem said. “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.”

Michigan State (6-2-0, 1-1-0 Big Ten) is ranked 6th in the regional poll, so a win Sunday by the Buckeyes should vault OSU up in the rankings. The Spartans started off the season winning their first five games but are 1-2 since. MSU topped Northwestern, 1-0, Sunday and is scheduled to host Loyola-Chicago Wednesday.

Michigan State is the second in a span of three consecutive home matches for Ohio State. The home stand concludes Oct. 13 vs. Louisville. After falling to a pair of Top-10 ranked opponents to start the season, Ohio State is 4-2-1 since.

BURSE RECEIVES BIG TEN HONORS
Buckeye goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Monday as he collected a career-high seven saves Sunday in leading the Buckeyes to a 1-0 shutout over Wisconsin in both team’s Big Ten opener. The shutout was the first this season for Burse, who owns a 2-1-0 record this season and 1.43 goals-against average with 15 saves.

“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 (Jr., Prospect, Ky./St. Xavier) posted three saves in the first half and had four athletic and dramatic 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. The player of the week honor is the first of Burse’s career.

BUCKEYES STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Ohio State holds the edge in nearly every category on the statistics sheet. The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents, 18-16, and out-shot the opposition, 116-96. OSU has put 60 of their shots on goal compared to 46 for its opponents. The Buckeyes have also had more corner kicks, 38-36, and committed fewer fouls, 118-139.

OSU IN THE BIG TEN RANKINGS
After week one in Big Ten play, the Buckeyes find themselves in second place in the conference standings behind Indiana (7-2, 2-0), which knocked off previously undefeated Penn State Friday, 2-1. Ohio State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in goals scored (2.00 gpg), but seventh in goals allowed (1.78 gpg). The Buckeyes rank sixth in corner kicks (4.22 cpg) and fifth in shots (12.89 spg) and fouls (13.11 fpg).

Individually, Ohio State’s Justin Cook has quickly moved up among the Big Ten leaders with 11 points in his last four matches. Cook ranks fourth in shots per game (3.44 spg) and seventh in points per game (1.22 ppg). Cook’s four goals rank seventh in the league, while freshman Xavier Balc is tied for ninth with three goals.

Three Buckeyes have three assists each, including Cook, Balc and sophomore Brent Rohrer, ranking them tied for ninth in the Big Ten. Goalkeepers Casey Latchem and Ray Burse Jr. rank tied for seventh in saves with 15, and Latchem’s 1.92 goals against average is seventh. Burse owns a 1.43 goals against average but does not have enough minutes to qualify in the league rankings.

OSU SCORING SURPASSES 2003
The biggest area of improvement for the Buckeyes in 2004 is unquestionably their offensive attack. After a 2003 season in which Ohio State struggled to score goals (13 goals scored, shut out 11 times), the Buckeyes have already scored 18 goals and have been shut out just once (by then-No. 8 Wake Forest).

“We’re definitely more dangerous this year, which makes us a harder team to play against,” Bluem said. “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.”

COOK LEADS OSU ATTACK
Senior Justin Cook has collected all of his team-leading 11 points in the last four games. He had back-to-back five-point outings against Virginia Tech (Sept. 19) and Bowling Green (Sept. 24) and had the assist on Ohio State’s goal against Kentucky (Sept. 26).

Cook has 25 career goals (4th all-time) and 13 career assists (6th all-time). He was named to the Penn State/Nike Classic All-Tournament team following his five-point performance against Virginia Tech.

NOTING THE BUCKEYES
Following Cook’s 11 points, freshman Xavier Balc ranks second on the team in scoring with nine points (3 goals, 3 assists). Sophomore Taylor Korpieski has three goals and two assists for eight points.

Three Buckeyes all have five points each, including junior Kyle Veris, junior Kevin Nugent and freshman Ryan Kustos. Nugent’s five points all came in Ohio State’s 7-4 win over Bowling Green Sept. 24. Veris was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament Sept. 10-11 after scoring a goal in both games. His 17 shots on goal this season are second-most on the squad behind Cook’s 31, but the two are very close in shots on goal, with Cook owning 14 and Veris 13.

Sophomore Brent Rohrer is one of five Buckeyes to have started all nine matches so far this season. His first five starts came as a defender, while his last four have been as a midfielder. His three assists are tied for most of the team with Cook and Balc.

Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem played all 470 minutes of the first five matches, totaling 15 saves and a 1.53 goals against average. Since then, he and junior Ray Burse Jr., OSU’s returning starter, have split time in goal. Latchem is 2-3-1 with a 1.92 goals against average, while Burse is 2-1-0 with a 1.43 GAA.

Defensively, senior Eric Schwebach and sophomore Dustin Kirby have started all nine matches in the back line. Schwebach’s game-winning goal in the first half of the Wisconsin match Sunday was the first goal of his Buckeye career. Kirby has not come off the field once this season, having played all 830 minutes for OSU so far. Korpieski ranks 2nd with 752 minutes played. Schwebach (692) and Rohrer (689) rank third and fourth.

LIVE RADIO AND LIVE STATS ON WEB
Ohio State’s student radio station, KBUX, will broadcast the game Sunday vs. Michigan State. Their call can be heard live at www.underground.fm/sports.

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.

A LOOK AT MICHIGAN STATE
The Spartans got off to a 5-0 start this season before suffering a 2-0 loss at San Diego Sept. 19 and a 3-1 loss to Indiana Sept. 26 in their Big Ten opener. MSU topped Northwestern, 1-0, Oct. 3 and is scheduled to host Loyola-Chicago Wednesday.

Michigan State posted a 3-1-2 record in the Big Ten last year that included a tie vs. eventual national champion Indiana. The Spartans were an impressive 11-5-2 overall in 2003 but were not selected for the NCAA tournament. In his 28th year at the helm of the MSU program, head coach Joe Baum owns a 271-199-40 overall record. He returns 15 letterwinners, including eight starters, in 2004 from last year’s squad.

The Spartans are averaging 2.25 goals scored per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Northwestern’s 2.30 goals per game. The MSU defense has been equally impressive, allowing just seven goals thus far in 2004, which is second behind Michigan’s six goals allowed.

Senior forward John Minagawa-Webster leads MSU with 17 points (6 goals, 5 assists), which ranks second in the Big Ten. Senior forward Jordan Gruber is close behind with five goals and three assists for 13 points. Goalkeeper Jason Willman owns an impressive 0.79 goals against average (2nd in Big Ten) and 3.00 saves per game (3rd in Big Ten).

OHIO STATE HISTORY VS. MSU
When playing in Columbus, the Buckeyes own a 6-1-1 record against Michigan State in the last eight matches between these two schools. The home team in this series has not lost a match in the last nine regular season contests. Overall, Michigan State holds the edge in the series, 20-9-2. Listed below are the last five OSU-MSU matchups.

Year Location Winner Score 2003 East Lansing MSU 2-1 ot 2002 University Park MSU 3-2 2002 Columbus OSU 3-1 2001 Madison MSU 2-1 2001 East Lansing MSU 3-0

LAST YEAR VS. THE SPARTANS
Ohio State dropped a 2-1 decision to Michigan State last season in double-overtime in East Lansing. Adam Schauer scored Ohio State’s lone goal to notch his first goal as a Buckeye. Taylor Korpieski assisted on the play to collect his first collegiate point.

Schauer’s goal put the Buckeyes up 1-0, but Michigan State’s Thomas Trivelloni tied the game at 1-1 at the 79:35 mark. The match remained deadlocked through regulation and the first overtime session before MSU’s Ryan McMahen booted the game-winner at the 102:45 mark in the second overtime.

BUCKEYES-SPARTANS CONNECTIONS
Ohio State freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, 15 miles south of the Ohio-Michigan border, played club soccer for the Michigan Wolves. Among his teammates with the Wolves were current Michigan State players Chris Austin and Kenzo Webster, while MSU players John Pizanis and Jason Tillman were also a part of the Wolves club but a year older.

BUCKEYES SET JOMS SCORING MARK
The Buckeyes established a new Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium scoring record Sept. 24 with their seven-goal output against Bowling Green. The goal total topped OSU’s previous facility record of five goals scored against Denison in 2001 and is the most goals scored overall since a 7-3 win at Wisconsin in 1999.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM HONORS
Justin Cook and Taylor Korpieski were both named to the All-Tournament Team of the Penn State/Nike Classic last weekend. They scored two goals and had one assist each in the Classic. A week before, junior Kyle Veris was named the Offensive MVP of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament in Oneonta, N.Y., after scoring two goals in that event. Korpieski and Dustin Kirby were named to the All-Tournament team of the Ohio State Classic, Sept. 3-5.

FRESHMAN CLASS RANKED IN NATION
As further evidence the Buckeyes have reloaded their talent supply, College Soccer News (collegesoccernews.com) has listed the eight-member Ohio State freshman class among the best in the nation. As a group, the Buckeye newcomers are ranked No. 35 out of the nearly 200 Division I programs in the country. Ohio State was awarded that ranking even without the inclusion of transfer Kyle Veris among the newcomers listed.

TOP 10 FOES MADE FOR NEAR UPSETS
In the Ohio State Classic Sept. 3-5, eighth-ranked Wake Forest and sixth-ranked North Carolina represented the two highest-ranked teams to ever take on the Buckeyes in Columbus in back-to-back matches. Despite suffering a pair of defeats, Ohio State took many positives out of the tournament. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-0 decision to Wake Forest but had three more shots on goal than the Demon Deacons (8 to 5). Ohio State allowed just two shots on goal to North Carolina, but the Tar Heels made both of them count to down the Buckeyes, 2-1. Ohio State sophomores Dustin Kirby (defender) and Taylor Korpieski (midfielder) were named to the all-tournament team.

The last time Ohio State faced such a challenge, however, the Buckeyes won both matches, as OSU knocked off No. 9 and defending national champion Indiana, 1-0, and No. 22 Penn State, 3-2, in the 2000 Big Ten Tournament in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. With those two victories, Ohio State secured its first NCAA tournament bid in program history.

ANOTHER TOUGH SCHEDULE FOR OSU
The Buckeyes’ schedule in 2004 could end up being even tougher than their 2003 schedule, which was ranked as the eighth-toughest in the nation at the end of the season. Ohio State’s 2004 opponents posted a .627 winning percentage last year with an overall record of 195-106-49. Seven of those teams were among the 48-member 2003 NCAA Tournament field. So far in 2004, Buckeye opponents have combined to have a 79-60-22 overall record (.559) and three are currently ranked in the NSCAA Top 25.

The Buckeyes faced 14 teams last season that at some point appeared in at least one of the national polls and two foes, Maryland and Indiana, that advanced to the College Cup.

COOK SCORES WINNING PDL GOAL
Justin Cook had a successful summer playing for the Central Florida Kraze of the Premier Development League. Cook helped lead the Kraze to the PDL championship game in Orlando, where he scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Cook was named the championship game’s Most Valuable Player as he helped Central Florida cap off a 14-3-1 season and the championship of the country’s top Under-23 league for development of professional prospects.

OSU COACHES COMMENTS
Head Coach John Bluem
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.”

Oct. 5, on Michigan State
“They play midweek, which sometimes I think is better than just practicing all week. But we’ll be rested. They’re very good. They might be better at attacking at defending. In the history of our games with them recently, it is rare to win on the road. If we play a good game we have a good chance to win, but if we don’t play well they’re going to beat us. We have to take care of business defensively because they have some really dangerous players.”

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.

“These next couple games become critical to us and the success of our season because we’ve gone through the preseason and we have six conference matches and three non-conference matches left and we’re under .500, so we have to pick it up.”

OSU PLAYER COMMENTS
Dustin Kirby, Oct. 5, on the 1-0 win vs. UW
“Any time you can win 1-0 it’s definitely a confidence booster. It’s great to get a shutout and to be on the other end of a 1-0 decision. Any time you can get to .500 or better you get more confidence and it feels like we’re on a roll now. All Big Ten games are pretty big and if we can start off 2-0 in the league it would be huge.”

Ray Burse Jr., Oct. 5, on being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week
“It means a lot, but more importantly we’re 1-0 in the Big Ten and the team played well. Hopefully it’ll continue into this weekend against Michigan State. We definitely want to go 2-0, which will help us later in the season as we play the top teams in the conference.”

Taylor Korpieski, Sept. 28, on the OSU offense
“We’ve been working on getting the ball forward a lot more and to the forward’s feet. It starts with more possession and better possession in the back and then just working our way up the field. We’ve concentrated more on finishing this year. We struggled with that last year. Our mentality is more offensive this year and that has helped. Goals have come easier this year.”

Brent Rohrer, Sept. 28, on the start of Big Ten play
“It’s the time we need to step up. Big Ten games are always battles because almost every team in the conference is a big rival. We need to come out and get focused on these next few games and make a good mark in the Big Ten for us, put in a good showing in the tournament and go from there.”

BUCKEYE PROMOTION NOTES, ETC.
At the conclusion of every Ohio State home match, Buckeye players will be available for autographs at the south end of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Kids, to register for your chance to be an honorary captain at a future Buckeye home men’s soccer game, visit the men’s soccer page at ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

### Go Bucks! ###