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Feb. 23, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio – John Bluem, Ohio State head men’s soccer coach, has announced the signing of six high school seniors to National Letters of Intent to play for the Buckeyes this fall. Five of the six prep standouts are from Ohio and two earned NSCAA All-America honors.

Bluem’s 2004 recruiting class includes Xavier Balc (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson), David Bauer (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield), Eric Edwards (Loveland, Ohio/Milford), Ryan Kustos (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West), Casey Latchem (Perrysburg, Ohio/Perrysburg) and Kyle Retzlaff (Brookfield, Wisc./Brookfield East).

“As a coaching staff, we are very excited about the recruiting class for 2004,” Bluem said. “They are players who have been very successful in both high school and club soccer and we feel that will translate into very successful college careers. We feel, for the second year in a row now, that we have done a good job in selecting the top talent in Ohio.”

Balc, a 6-foot-1-inch forward, was named the 2002 and 2003 Ohio Division I Player of the Year as well as the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year and an NSCAA All-American both years. As a senior he scored 27 goals and added 17 assists after scoring 17 goals and providing 20 assists as a junior when he helped lead Hudson to the state and national championship. Balc was named the player of the year in the Western Reserve Conference and by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal. He finished his prep career with 62 goals scored and 55 assists and helped lead the Summit Futbol Club to the NAISC U-18 National Runner up in 2002. Balc was also a two-year member of the Regional Olympic Development Program team.

Bauer, a 6-1 forward, was named first team all-league and all-city and was selected as Fairfield’s Offensive MVP. As the team’s leading scorer, he led Fairfield to the 2003 Greater Miami Conference championship and a district runner-up finish. He was selected to play on the Super Y League Midwest Regional Team, which won the Cocoa Expo U-18 Division title.

Kustos, a 6-0 forward, scored 18 goals and had four assists as a senior when he was named All-Ohio. He earned all-conference honors three consecutive years and helped lead Lakota West to the district championship all four years. Kustos was a member of the Olympic Development Program’s Ohio South State Team from 1997-03 and was selected for the Midwest regional pool.

Edwards, a 6-0 forward, was an all-league and all-city selection and earned Milford’s Best Offensive Player award in 2002 and 2003. He was selected for the Olympic Development Program’s Region 2 Pool in 2003 and helped lead his club team, Cincinnati United Premier, to the State Cup championship in 2002 and 2003.

Latchem, a 6-0 goalkeeper, was twice named First Team All-Ohio and an NSCAA All-American. He collected a school-record 33 career shutouts and led Perrysburg to three conference championships and a 2001 state runner-up finish. Latchem was a member of the 2002 and 2003 Ohio North Team of the Olympic Development Program and was also selected for the Midwest Region 2 team both years.

Retzlaff, a 5-9 forward, earned first team all-state honors and guided Brookfield East to a Wisconsin state runner-up finish. As a senior he scored 20 goals and had nine assists and was named to the NSCAA All-Midwest Region team. For his career, he totaled 40 goals and 24 assists and was named all-conference three times. He was selected for the Olympic Development Program’s Region 2 Team from 2001-04 and his U-17 club team, Futbol Club Milwaukee, won the 2003 Wisconsin state championship.