Buckeyes coming off 1-0 win over Louisville, host UC Santa Barbara Sunday

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Buckeyes eliminated Louisville, 1-0, Wednesday night on the strength of their outstanding defense and the first game-winning goal by sophomore Andrew Magill.

Now, Ohio State prepares to face defending national champion UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. Sunday in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The winner will host an NCAA Championship quarterfinal match Dec. 7, 8 or 9.

The official game notes will be released Friday, but here is a look back at the key moments from the win over Louisville and a brief preview of the Sweet 16’ matchup with the Gauchos.

Ohio State had not played a game in 17 days prior to meeting Louisville Wednesday in a second-round NCAA championship game. That did not seem to bother the Buckeyes, though, who had seven of the game’s first 10 shots and three of the first four corners.

“I was pleased with how we played because practices hadn’t been as sharp as they needed to be,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said Thursday after the Buckeyes’ training session. “The long layoff got to the players a little bit. They were bored and tired of practicing against each other. In these kinds of issues, it looked like we lost a little bit of fitness, but hopefully that will pick up now that we have played a full match yesterday. All in all, we did well. The guys know how to play and what to do and we carried that out pretty well.”

For the first time since Oct. 13, Ohio State’s Xavier Balc was not involved in a Buckeye goal. Wednesday against Louisville, junior Danny Irizarry’s shot was saved, but sophomore Andrew Magill was there to cash in on the rebound. It marked Magill’s first career game-winning goal and his third goal of the season, but his first score since Sept. 16 against Cal State Fullerton. The assist for Irizarry was his second of the season and first since Sept. 9 against William and Mary.

Soccer America’s headline said it all: “1-4-6-9-14-16. It reads like the numbers on a lottery ticket.” Those six numbers represented the seeded team that lost Wednesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“I’m just glad we were able to get past Louisville and not be an upset ourselves,” Bluem said. “There is so much parity in college soccer today that it’s really kind of a crap shoot to decide who the seeded teams are. To know that Indiana got beat after a 17 day layoff and Northwestern got beat after a 19 day layoff being a seeded team might not be such an honor. I wished we could have gone straight from the Big Ten championship game on a Sunday into a first-round game on a Friday. All the upsets are interesting and you look at the bracket now and everyone tries to figure out what happens next. It has been an exciting tournament so far because of the shocking results that are out there.”

The semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy have been released and Ohio State senior defender Eric Brunner was not among them. A preseason candidate, Brunner has been a huge part of the OSU defense which has allowed only 15 goals this season, including three in the last 12 games. He has scored four goals, including three game-winners.

“It’s surprising to me that Eric Brunner isn’t still on that list,” Bluem said. “He’s a defender our defensive record has been fantastic and he’s the key defender on our team. He has scored goals and we are still alive in the tournament. It’s disappointing that he hasn’t remained in contention for that award. But it’s understandable in that Ohio State hasn’t had the tradition of having Hermann Trophy winners so maybe the respect isn’t there yet.”

UC Santa Barbara senior defender Andy Iro is among the semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy. The following his bio from the NSCAA web site.

Andy Iro, D, Sr., UC Santa Barbara, Liverpool, England
Led a UCSB defense that has allowed only 19 goals in as many matches, with five shutouts along the way…while taking a career-low four shots, his lone goal this season was key, the game-winner to avenge an earlier conference loss to Cal Poly…a second-team NSCAA/adidas All-America in 2006, when he earned College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player while helping the Gauchos to the national title…a third-team NSCAA/adidas All-America in 2005.

Ohio State senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem did his part Wednesday with four saves in notching his fifth-consecutive shutout. But the stat sheet has Ohio State with five saves thanks to freshman Matt Gold.

With about 12:45 left on the first half clock, Latchem came out of goal mouth to block a Louisville shot and the rebound went to the Cardinals’ leading scorer Marco Terminesi, who quickly chipped it toward the net while Latchem was still on the ground. There for the team save, however, was Gold, who had retreated all the way to the goal line and was there to kick the ball away at the last second.

“Matt sensed the urgency that there was a problem and ran behind the goalkeeper to cover the goal,” Bluem said. “It was a smart play and fortunately the ball came to him and he was able to stop it and clear it. You teach your defenders to do that but in the heat of the moment, will they do it? And for a midfielder to track that far back and get in that position was a great moment of intelligent soccer.”

The latest weather report is calling for a significant amount of rain Sunday in Columbus for the third-round game.

“The last time I checked the weather it was calling for 80 percent showers, but you never know,” Bluem said. “We might have a window where it doesn’t rain, or it might be an absolute quagmire. You have no idea, so you just have to prepare for the conditions and adjust. As the game goes on, the team that is able to do that the best will have the advantage.”

Ohio State head coach John Bluem spent 16 seasons at Fresno State (1984-1996) and competed regularly against UC Santa Barbara. In fact, while at FSU, Bluem recruited current UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg, who is from Fresno. Vom Steeg went to UCSB, however, and later coached at Fresno City College, where he and Bluem remained in contact.

“When I was at Fresno State, Santa Barbara wasn’t a good program,” Bluem said. “But since Tim Vom Steeg has been there he has really got that program rolling. Obviously, in the national championship game two of the last three years and winning it last year. He has been named national coach of the year twice. They are a different animal than what I knew back when I was in California. I don’t know much about them now, to be honest. We’ll see their game against Washington on video when we exchange.”

### ###

Contact: Tim Stried,