Aug. 22, 2012

Match 1: Ohio State at Dayton
Friday, August 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Dayton, Ohio | Baujan Field
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Match 2: UIC at Ohio State
Sunday, August 26 | Noon
Columbus, Ohio | Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s soccer team opens the 2012 season this weekend, traveling to Dayton and hosting UIC. The matchup vs. the Flyers kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Dayton’s Baujan Field, while the Buckeyes and Flames take to the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium pitch at noon Sunday. Admission to both games is free.

Nine starters and 13 total letterwinners return from a year ago, including the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Chris Hegngi who scored 33 percent of the team’s goals a year ago. In fact, returning players account for 22 of the 27 goals scored in 2011 and over half of the assists. Ohio State finished 10-7-2 overall and 4-2-0 in the Big Ten, securing its seventh Top 2 conference finish in the last eight years.

The Buckeyes are 26-23-10 in lidlifters all-time and 7-5-3 under head coach John Bluem. They have opened the year on the road just four times under the current coaching regime, going 0-3-1 in those contests, with the last loss coming in 2003 at Cal State Fullerton. Last season, Ohio State played American to a 1-1 draw at a neutral site contest as part of the Penn State Classic.

Celebrate the start of the school year with the Buckeyes as they take on UIC at noon Sunday. Kids eighth grade and under will receive an Ohio State lunch bag or pencil pouch (while supplies last) and a 2nd and 7 Foundation Hog Mollies book. Fans can also enjoy a special offer from Sodexo of a free Coke product when you purchase any food item (click here for coupon). Visit the men’s soccer page of for upcoming promotions.

Northwestern, who won the Big Ten regular-season and tourney titles last season, and Indiana enter the season tied as the conference favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll. Michigan State checks in at No. 3 in the poll, jumping up two spots from last year’s fifth-place campaign, while Buckeyes come in at No. 4 after earning a 4-2-0 record and finishing second in Big Ten action last year. Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan round out the poll. In addition, Sage Gardner, Chris Hegngi and Austin McAnena each were named a player to watch in the Big Ten.

Chris Hegngi, a senior forward, was named to the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy Watch List, as announced by the NSCAA Aug. 13, becoming just the third Buckeye to be considered for the national player of the year award in the program history (Eric Brunner, 2007 and Matt Lampson, 2011). Hegngi, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year last season, is one of just two players from the conference to begin the season on the Watch List and one of 42 overall. The Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in collegiate soccer with the recipient being selected by head coaches of NCAA Division I programs who are members of the NSCAA.

Dayton went 2-0 through the postseason, defeating Bradley, 3-1, and Detroit, 2-0. Evan McCreary and Greg Enstone each had a pair of goals between the two wins, while Greg Froshauer spent the bulk of time in the net without allowing a goal. The Flyers return 20 to the 2012 squad from the team that finished 5-13-1 a year ago, despite posting a 4-2-1 record in the final seven games of the season.

The Buckeyes hold a 22-16-5 advantage in the series, though the teams have not met since 2000.

UIC went unbeaten during the exhibition portion of its season, earning a 1-1 draw at No. 12 Indiana on August 14, followed by a 1-0 win over Lewis University at Flames Field Saturday night. Thirteen letterwinners were retained from a year ago, including seven players who saw time in the starting lineup for the squad which finished 9-7-3. Among the returnees is Ivan Stanisavljevic, who claimed Horizon League Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2011 after finishing the season as the League’s leader in points (26), points per game (1.37), goals (10) and goals per game (0.53).

UIC knocked off the Buckeyes in the last meeting, a 1-0 decision Oct. 13, 2010, in Chicago. Ohio State trails 1-3-1 all-time, dropping each of the last two, with its lone win coming in 1995 (3-0, Sept. 20)/

The Buckeyes will have an unprecedented four regular-season games broadcasted live on the Big Ten Network this season, beginning Sept. 23 with a 1 p.m. home tilt against conference favorite Indiana. They also will have their home match against national power Akron televised at 8 p.m. Oct. 23, sandwiching a pair of road contests at Michigan (Sept. 30, 6 p.m.) and Northwestern (Oct. 14, 1 p.m.). This will bring the program’s number of appearances on BTN to 21 since its inception in 2007.

Junior Sage Gardner and seniors Chris Gomez and Austin McAnena were selected as captains for the 2012 campaign. The trio have combined for 136 career starts in 148 games played with Gardner (39) and McAnena (60) starting every game of their careers.

The 2012 roster boasts four players to come through the Columbus Crew Academy system, including junior Sage Gardner who has helped a Crew Juniors team to a national title in each of the last two summers. Sophomore Alex Bechtol, who transferred to Ohio State from Bowling Green, and freshmen Zach Mason and Raymond Olivarria each have spent time with the Crew.   

John Bluem enters his 16th season as head coach of the Buckeyes in 2012. He has collected a 160-108-40 (.584) record during that span and holds all eight of the program’s NCAA Tournament appearances and all five combined Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles to his credit. With six years at Fresno State also on his résumé, Bluem has a 246-135-52 career record, a win total which is No. 24 among active NCAA coaches and a percentage which stands at No. 30.

In its second season, Connor’s Crew is the official student support section of Ohio State soccer. The branch of “Block O” is named for former Buckeye Connor Senn, who passed away Sept. 26, 2001 from a heart abnormality after collapsing during an OSU match. For more information on the group, visit its Facebook page and for on the legacy of Connor click here.

The Buckeyes are 79-27-15 record in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1999, including at least six wins in each of the last five seasons. The Buckeyes were 6-2 at JOMS last season.

The Buckeyes went 1-0-1 in a pair of preseason exhibitions, knocking off Duquesne and battling Duke to a scoreless draw. Against the Dukes, Ohio State fell behind 1-0, but battled back with goals from Chris Hegngi and sophomore Konrad Kucharski to come away with the win. Aug. 13 in Columbus. The Buckeyes and Blue Devils faced each other Aug. 17 in the Shindigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Ohio State will host the seventh annual Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic Aug. 31 and Sept. 2 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Wright State and Davidson start off tourney action at 5 p.m. Aug. 31, followed by the Buckeyes vs. Coastal Carolina at approximately 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Raiders and Chanticleers meet at noon before Ohio State and Davidson close it out at 2:30 p.m. Admission to all Wolstein Classic games, and home regular-season games throughout the season, is free.