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Latchem ties OSU shutouts record; Bluem earns career win No. 200 as Buckeyes set program record with 13th win

COLUMBUS, Ohio Head coach John Bluem notched career win No. 200 and his second-seeded Buckeyes won their school-record 13th game of the season with a 1-0 shutout of No. 3 seed and 14th-ranked Northwestern Friday in the semifinals of the Big Ten Men’s Soccer Championship at Old College Field in East Lansing, Mich. Ohio State (13-3-4) is now 8-0-2 in its last 10 games to further extend its program-record unbeaten streak.

The Buckeyes will play in the Big Ten championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday against No. 1 seed and ninth-ranked Indiana in a rematch of the 2006 title game won by the Hoosiers in Columbus, 1-0. Indiana beat host and No. 4 seed Michigan State, 1-0, Friday in the other semifinal game.

Earlier this season, Northwestern (12-4-3) handed Ohio State its worst home loss in program history, 4-0 Sept. 23, but Friday the Wildcats had no answer for OSU senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem, who had six saves and notched his school-record-tying 11th shutout of the season.

“That was an embarrassing loss for us earlier this season and the guys felt bad about it,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “Today was a chance for us to set the record straight that we weren’t that bad. The first thing I told the team after the game was that no team in the history of Ohio State soccer has ever won 13 games, so this is a fantastic achievement and is a tribute to their hard work and dedication.”

Senior Xavier Balc, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Year Thursday, delivered his second game-winning goal of the postseason with a scoring strike in the 54th minute. Sophomore Andrew Magill had the assist on the play, which began with a build-up from the left side that included junior Roger Espinoza and ended when Balc received the ball from Magill, turned to his left and slotted the ball with his left foot into the far corner of the net.

From there, the Buckeyes were able to withstand attack after attack from Northwestern, which must now await its NCAA tournament fate until Nov. 19, while Ohio State will have a chance to win its second Big Ten Championship and first since 2000.

“Casey was phenomenal today,” Bluem said. “He was just an incredible goalkeeper today and three of his saves late in the game literally took away goals and kept us in the game. Northwestern really turned up the heat after we scored. And now we’re in the Big Ten championship game for the second-consecutive season and we have a 10-game unbeaten streak and have only allowed three goals in those 10 games.”

Bluem is already Ohio State’s all-time wins leader with a 114-80-27 record since arriving in 1997. Factor in six seasons at Fresno State and he is now 200-107-38 as a collegiate head coach.

“I have benefited greatly from having so many great teams and players,” Bluem said. “And I gladly honored to share this with my associate head coach, Frank Speth, and all the assistants who have coached with me. It was an incredible way to win No. 200, with a win today in the conference semifinals.”

Sunday, the Buckeyes will meet an Indiana team they tied 0-0 in Bloomington Oct. 21, which marked Ohio State’s first ever shutout on the road against the Hoosiers. Indiana has won 11 Big Ten championships. The match will be televised live by both CSTV and the Big Ten Network.

“Indiana is playing very well right now and this is going to be a great rematch Sunday,” Bluem said. “I think it will be a very even game and a very close game. We hope this year is our turn.”

Postgame Notes: No. 18 Ohio State 1, No. 14 Northwestern 0 Big Ten Championship Semifinals
– With the win Friday over Northwestern, Ohio State has advanced to the Big Ten championship game for the fourth time since the event was first played in 1991. The Buckeyes lost to Indiana 1-0 in 1997, beat Penn State 3-2 in overtime in 2000 and lost to Indiana 1-0 in 2006.
– Ohio State’s 13 wins this season are a new school record, surpassing the previous record of 12 wins set by teams in 1986, 2000 and 2004.
– The Buckeyes are now 4-2-1 this season against ranked opponents.
– Ohio State is now 13-15 all-time in the Big Ten Championship and 6-5 as the No. 2 seed.
– The Buckeyes are now 11-0-2 this season when they score first.
– Senior Casey Latchem’s 11 shutouts this season have tied the school single-season record, set initially by Dave Sheer in 1986. Latchem now owns 23 shutouts in his career, which are just shy of the Ohio State record of 23.5, set by Kerry Thompson from 1997-2001.
– Latchem’s current career goals against average stands at 0.88, which is the best mark in school history (previous best was 0.92).
– Xavier Balc’s goal was his fourth game-winner of the season and 10th of his career.
– Balc now owns 21 career goals and a school-record 33 career assists at Ohio State. His 75 career points rank third in Ohio State history (Justin Cook ranks second with 83 from 2000-04).
– The Buckeyes are 11-0-1 this season when Balc has at least one point. Ohio State is 29-3-2 during the last three seasons when Balc has at least one point.
– Balc has either scored or assisted on 18 of Ohio State’s 30 goals this season, including 10 of the last 12.
– Ohio State is now 17-4-2 all-time against Northwestern and stop the Wildcats’ winning streak in the series at two (NU had won the last two games by a combined score of 7-1). The Buckeyes are now 3-0-0 all-time against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship.
– The win Friday was the 47th for Ohio State’s seven-member senior class, which builds on its school-records for wins by a program and winning percentage (.633).

                                Soccer Game Summary (Final)
                                2007 Ohio State Men’s Soccer
    #14 Northwestern vs. #18 Ohio State (Nov 09, 2007 at East Lansing, Mich.)

 Northwestern (12-4-3) vs. Ohio State (13-3-4)
 Date: Nov 09, 2007  Attendance:
 Weather: cold, overcast

 Goals by period       1  2  Tot
 ——————————-
 Northwestern……..  0  0 –  0
 Ohio State……….  0  1 –  1
 
 SCORING SUMMARY:
  1.  53:02 OSU Balc, Xavier (6) (Magill, Andrew) – played to 10 in box, 3 hit loose ball in with left foot

 Shots: Northwestern 17, Ohio State 13
 Saves: Northwestern 3 (Kotler, Drew 3), Ohio State 6 (Latchem, Casey  6)
 Ohio State Advances to Big Ten Championship Match at 2p.m. Sunday.

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Contact: Tim Stried, stried.3@osu.edu