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Nov. 9, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fifth-ranked Ohio State field hockey team (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) will play in consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time in program history as the Buckeyes received an at-large bid for the 2006 tournament, the NCAA selection committee announced Tuesday.

The Buckeyes travel to Durham, N.C., to face California (16-4, 6-0 NorPac) in the first round Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. OSU was one of eight at-large selections while Cal, who won the NorPac tournament, received one of two play-in berths. Also competing in the Durham regional are No. 4-seed Duke and Colonial Athletic Association champ James Madison.

NCAA Selections & Schedule
A total of 16 teams make the NCAA field hockey tournament. Six conferences earn automatic qualification, four conferences compete for two play-in berths and the eight other teams are at-large selections. The first and second rounds will be hosted at four sites around the country: Durham, N.C. (host: Duke), Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest), Princeton, N.J. (Princeton), and College Park, Md. (Maryland).

Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament
The Buckeyes are making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It is the first time Ohio State has played in back-to-back tournaments in the 31-year program history. OSU has a 0-3 NCAA record. The team also has appeared in the 2005, 2001 and 1994 tournaments.

Ohio State hosted the first and second rounds of the event at North Turf Field last season. The Buckeyes battled Old Dominion closely in the first round, but fell by a final score of 5-4.

Also in From The Big Ten
Iowa won the 2006 Big Ten Tournament to earn an automatic berth to the NCAAs. Penn State received an at-large selection. In first round games, the Hawkeyes face Virginia in Winston-Salem, N.C., while the Nittany Lions take on North Carolina in College Park, Md. The Big Ten has sent at least three squads to the NCAA tournament in seven of the last eight seasons.

One for the Books
Ohio State has compiled one of its best seasons in the 31-year history of the program. With a 14-3 record, the Buckeyes have their highest winning percentage ever at .824. The current season record is .786 held by the 1973 team that finished 11-2-1. Ohio State won its first-ever outright Big Ten championship and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. OSU has also scored 63 goals this season, seven shy of tying their record of 70 set just a year ago.

Wilkinson Named Big Ten Coach of the Year
Head coach Anne Wilkinson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year at the league banquet Nov. 2. In her 11th season at the helm of the Buckeyes, she led the team to a regular-season record of 14-2. OSU was 5-1 in Big Ten games to win its second conference championship and first outright title. Ohio State has been ranked in the Top 7 throughout the entire season. This is Wilkinson’s second coach of the year honor at Ohio State. She has a career record of 135-81 with the Buckeyes.

Mueller, Luces Players of the Year
Senior Saskia Mueller earned the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year award. She was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times this season and tied for second in overall scoring in the league with 32 points. Her 14 assists lead the conference and she ranks second in the nation with 0.88 assists per game. As well as her offensive contributions, she anchored the OSU backfield throughout the season, helping to limit opponents to just 8.4 shots and 1.39 goals per game.

Junior Yesenia Luces was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league in overall scoring for the second-consecutive season. She totaled 33 points for 2.06 points per game. Luces finished second in the Big Ten in assists (11) and tied for third in goals (11). She was named player of the week three times by the conference.

Five Buckeyes Named All-Big Ten
Along with their player of the year awards, Saskia Mueller and Yesenia Luces were unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selections. Also receiving first honors was senior Curlyne Wynn. It was her third first team All-Big Ten honor, also earning the recognition in 2004 and 2005. Wynn totaled 19 points in the regular-season, just two shy of tying her career high. She has scored six goals and added seven assists.

Two Buckeyes were named to the All-Big Ten second team in Lauren Kruse and Linda Haussener. It is the first all-conference award for both players. Kruse, a senior forward, set career highs with 19 points and nine goals. Haussener had a breakout sophomore season, tying for second on the team and in the league with 32 points. She also tied for second in the Big Ten with 11 goals and tied for fifth with 10 assists.

Buckeyes are 2006 Big Ten Champs
The Buckeyes defeated Michigan State by a score of 4-3 in double-overtime Oct. 28 to claim at least a share of the 2006 Big Ten Championship. Ohio State then took sole possession of the title with a 1-0 Indiana victory over Penn State Sunday. With the championship, the Buckeyes earned the program’s first No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

The 2006 title is the first outright Big Ten championship in Ohio State field hockey history. The Buckeyes tied with Michigan for the title in 2001. That year, the Wolverines had the tiebreaker over OSU to take the top seed.

Last Time Out: Iowa (Big Ten Semifinal)
The No. 1-seed Ohio State was defeated by No. 5 Iowa, 2-0, Nov. 4 in the first semifinal game of the Big Ten tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. It was just the third loss for the Buckeyes and only the second time OSU has been held scoreless.

The teams played to a scoreless first half, with Ohio State holding a 4-1 advantage in both shots and penalty corners. Iowa scored twice in the opening minutes of the second half. Caitlin McCurdy scored at 43:24 when she knocked in the ball in from the lower left corner on a pass from Kelly Hondros. Lauren Pfeiffer increased the Iowa lead to 2-0 at 49:18 on a penalty stroke.

The Buckeyes added another four shots in the half, but were unable to get anything past UI goalkeeper Lissa Munley, who finished the game with a total of three saves. Overall, OSU outshot the Hawkeyes 8-6 with a 10-1 margin in penalty corners.

Filling the Shelves
The Buckeyes totaled nine Big Ten player of the week awards this season. Along with her player of the week selection Oct. 30, Saskia Mueller also was named offensive player of the week Aug. 28 and Oct. 16, and defensive player of the week Oct. 9. Junior midfielder Yesenia Luces received three player of the week selections, sophomore forward Linda Haussener was offensive player of the week once and freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Quintiliani was named defensive player of the week once.

Ohio State vs. California
This is the seventh meeting all-time between Ohio State and California. The Bears lead the series 5-1. The last time the two teams met was a 4-2 Cal win in 2004 in a neutral site game in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Buckeyes and Bears met every year from 2001-04. The lone OSU win in the series came Sept. 3, 2002 at California (1-0, OT).

Home Field Advantage
Ohio State had just six home games this season, but took full advantage of the games in Columbus with a perfect 6-0 record. In the games at North Turf Field, the Buckeyes outscored its opponents 31-8 for an average of 4.88 goals to 1.26. Ohio State also outshot its opponents 118-44 for an average of 19.7 shots to 7.3. The Buckeyes had a 52-24 advantage in penalty corners as well.

Luces Nears Milestone
Junior Yesenia Luces is nearing the 100-career point mark with 92 points. Now in her third season, she has totaled 31 goals and 30 assists. Her 92 points currently rank eighth all-time. Luces would be just the sixth Buckeye to pass the 100-point mark. Sue Marcellus (1976-79) holds the career record with 254 points. Luces has led the Buckeyes is scoring the last two seasons with 33 points in 2006 and 44 in 2005. She had 15 as a freshman.

Mueller Assisting her way into the Record Books
Senior midfielder Saskia Mueller has 14 assists this season, moving her up to second all-time in the Ohio State record books with 45 career assists. The record of 64 assists is held by Mieke van Ulden (1994-97). Last season, Mueller totaled 19 assists to lead the nation and tie for second in the OSU single-season records.

Lock Down Mode
The Ohio State defense has shut down opponents all season, but has been particularly stingy recently. The Buckeyes have allowed just one penalty corner apiece to their last four opponents. For the season, OSU has held teams to under five penalty corners 10 times and has limited teams to an average of just over four penalty corners per game.

In shots, the Buckeyes have held its last five opponents to eight shots or fewer. Ohio State has allowed 10 or more shots just five times this season and opponents average just 8.2 shots per game.

Team Effort
Three Buckeyes have scored over 30 points through 17 games – Linda Haussener, Yesenia Luces and Saskia Mueller. Luces leads the team with 33 points, followed by Haussener and Mueller tied for second with 32 apiece. Junior Michaela O’Malley (22 pts.) and seniors Lauren Kruse (19) and Curlyne Wynn (19) also have tallied double-digit points. A total of eight Buckeyes have scored a goal this season while 10 have notched a point.

Double Up
Six Buckeyes have scored multiple goals in a game this season and four have recorded multiple-assist games. Juniors Michaela O’Malley and Yesenia Luces and sophomore Linda Haussener lead the team with three multiple-goal games apiece. Saskia Mueller, Curlyne Wynn and Lauren Kruse have each recorded one.

Mueller leads OSU with four multiple-assist games, followed by Haussener and Luces with two each and Wynn with one.

Buckeyes Set Record For Best Start
This season, the Buckeyes set the record for the best start in program history after beginning the year with eight consecutive wins. OSU surpassed its previous best start of 7-0 set in 1999. Five of the eight wins were on the road, including a 4-2 season-opening win at then-No. 11 Boston College.

Experienced Travelers
The Buckeyes played the majority of their games on the road in 2006. Ten of OSU’s 16 games, or 63 percent, were away from North Turf Field. Ohio State played in three home games in September (Pacific, Miami and Ball State) and three in October (Penn State, Northwestern and Michigan State).

In The Polls
Ohio State remained at No. 5 in the latest STX/NFHCA poll released Nov. 7. After starting the year at No. 15 in the preseason poll, OSU has been ranked in the Top 7 throughout the regular season. Fifth is the highest the Buckeyes have been ranked since the 2001 season when they won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.