Buckeyes receive first-round bye, will host second-round game Nov. 28
COLUMBUS, Ohio The 48-team field for the 2007 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship was announced Monday night and Big Ten champion Ohio State is the No. 5 seed. The Buckeyes, who are 13-3-5 overall and earned an automatic bid to the tournament, will have a first-round bye and host Duke or Louisville in a second-round game Wednesday, Nov. 28 in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Kickoff time is to be announced.
Ohio State is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance and its first as a seeded team. The Buckeyes are unbeaten in their last 11 games (8-0-3) and have allowed only three goals during that stretch, but they will have to overcome a 17-day layoff when they take on the Cardinals or Blue Devils, who meet in a first-round game Friday in Louisville, Ky.
“To be the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament is a tremendous accomplishment and I’m really proud of the guys and very happy for our program,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “It’s great recognition for the season we have had and what a fine team this is.”
If Ohio State wins its second-round game, the Buckeyes will remain home for a third-round game Dec. 1 or 2 against either defending national champion and No. 12 seed California-Santa Barbara or first-round opponents Portland and Washington. The quarterfinals are set for Dec. 7, 8 or 9, with seeded teams Maryland (No. 13) and rival Indiana (No. 4) looming as potential match-ups.
Ohio State is 6-4-2 all-time against Louisville, which is making its first NCAA tournament appearance, and tied the Cardinals 1-1 Oct. 31 this season at Louisville. The Buckeyes are 4-0-1 all-time against Louisville in Columbus. Ohio State and Duke have met only once, that coming in the Sweet 16 of the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Durham, N.C., a 3-0 Blue Devil win. Duke is making its 21st NCAA tournament appearance.
Not only will the Buckeyes be battling a worthy opponent in their second-round game, but they will have to quickly shake off any rust from not playing a game since Nov. 11.
“It’s tough,” Bluem said. “You look at our first-round game Duke has always been a good team from the ACC and they have a very good forward who is outstanding. We had a very difficult game with Louisville at their place this season. There are no easy games in the NCAA tournament and we will be playing against a team that won their first game, so they’ll have a little momentum and confidence, but we have the advantage of playing at home. We just have to make sure the guys are confident and ready to play.”
The College Cup will be hosted at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., Dec. 14-16.
John Bluem, Ohio State head coach
On if he envisioned his team earning a Top 5 seed in the NCAA tournament when the season began
“You never know. We knew we had some good players but you never know how the new players will do. We didn’t know anything about how Roger Espinoza might do or Matt Gold or any of the freshmen, so we had some questions. And that little stretch we had in September we didn’t look very good then. But over the last 11 games we have done very well and won the conference championship. It’s a new season now and we have to make sure we are ready to play that first game.”
On the difference from last season when Ohio State was not selected for the NCAA tournament
“There were a lot more smiling faces here today than we had a year ago. So many of these guys were here in this same building a year ago and were so disappointed and worked so hard in the offseason and during this season. Their backs were up against the wall a little bit during that bad stretch in September, but they rededicated themselves to trying to accomplish their goals. One of those was to win the Big Ten and make the NCAA tournament. I don’t think they’re done yet with their goals, so I hope they continue to play well.”
On his team overcoming the long layoff and avoiding an upset like the Buckeyes did to Notre Dame in 2004
“These seniors were freshmen back in 2004 when we went out and beat Notre Dame in the second round, so they know what we had to do to overcome that and they know a team like Louisville or Duke can come here and beat us. Just because we are the No. 5 seed, that doesn’t mean you win automatically. You have to put in the work and I think they understand that.”
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