Oct. 27, 2004

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The Ohio State men’s soccer team hits the road twice this weekend, where the Buckeyes (7-5-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten) will spend the remainder of their season. Ohio State takes on Northwestern (10-3-2, 2-1-1 Big Ten) Friday in a key Big Ten match before taking on Valparaiso (4-7-3) Sunday.

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 7 in the Great Lakes regional poll, were knocked from the Big Ten’s only unbeaten squad Sunday by eighth-ranked Indiana, which snapped OSU’s five-match unbeaten streak.

“We have had a good season and have a lot of soccer left in us,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said after the match. “We have to put this behind us and get ready to go on the road.”

The Buckeyes are 6-2-1 in their last nine games and are hoping to rebound from the loss to the Hoosiers and secure a No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament and a possible invitation to the NCAA tournament.

“Every team has the goal of getting to the NCAA tournament,” Bluem said. “Our players are thinking about it, I’m sure, but we have three difficult games left on the road, so there is still too much soccer left to be played to be thinking about an NCAA tournament bid. We have been sticking to the idea that we need to take it one game at a time, and we have been successful with it for the last few weeks. That is how we’ll continue to do our business.”

The match Friday at Northwestern marks yet another key game for Ohio State, which pits the Buckeyes against a Northwestern team that is ranked third in the Great Lakes region and is in the midst of a five-match unbeaten streak. Included in that stretch is a 2-2 tie vs. Penn State, a 1-0 win at Indiana and a 2-1 win vs. Michigan. The win at Indiana was the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten regular season loss since 1995.

“We’ll be playing against a much improved Northwestern team that is playing very well right now,” Bluem said. “They are very talented and it will be a difficult game. After all, they have done something this season, win at Indiana, that no one else has done in a long time.”

In its four Big Ten games, Northwestern has scored five goals and allowed four, but in all games, the Wildcats lead the league in goals scored per game at 2.20.

“The most important thing this weekend is to get the conference result, that’s the first priority,” Bluem said. “We are going to need to continue playing with great effort at Northwestern. It is a very important conference match, because the winner will be in the best position to finish second in the Big Ten.”

For the first time since 1998, Ohio State started 3-0-0 in the Big Ten. With Sunday’s loss to eighth-ranked Indiana, the Buckeyes are now second in the Big Ten standings with two league matches remaining (10/29 at Northwestern, 11/6 at Michigan). OSU began the season 1-3-1, with all three losses and the tie coming against Top-25 teams. Since then, Ohio State is 6-2-1 in its last nine games, which includes a 3-0 win at then-No. 20 (now No. 19) Penn State Oct. 17.

Ohio State wrapped up its home schedule last Sunday against Indiana, concluding the season with a 3-3-0 record in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. All three losses came to Top-10 ranked teams.

Led by head coach John Bluem, who became Ohio State’s all-time wins leader this season, the Buckeyes are aiming for a Big Ten championship, which they last won in 2000, and for an invitation to the NCAA tournament, where they last went in 2001.

Ohio State has earned three Big Ten player of the week honors this season. Senior forward Justin Cook was named the Offensive Player of the Week Oct. 18, while junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. has earned Defensive Player of the Week honors twice, Oct. 4 and Oct. 18 (co-DPOW).

Ohio State is coming off a 1-0 loss to No. 8 and Big Ten leader Indiana Sunday, which marked the Buckeyes’ last home match of the season. The Hoosiers’ goal was the first allowed by OSU in Big Ten play this season as IU improves to 5-1-0 in the Big Ten, while the Buckeyes fall to 3-1-0.

The match, with a Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium men’s soccer record crowd of 2,081 fans looking on, was preceded by a Senior Day ceremony honoring OSU seniors Justin Cook, Eric Schwebach, Sammy Tamporello and Peter Withers.

“It was a very even game,” Bluem said after the game. “Indiana scored a tremendous goal to beat us and (Indiana goalkeeper Jay) Nolly came up with a great save on Cook’s shot. It was a hard-fought battle with a lot on the line, and it was played like there was.”

Indiana’s John Michael Hayden’s laser shot from 25 yards out in the 51st minute got past OSU junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. and would stand up as the game-winner for the Hoosiers, who will carry the No. 1 seed into the Big Ten tournament.

Cook nearly scored the equalizer in the 75th minute when he collected the ball following a set up from Dustin Kirby and Kevin Nugent and got off a shot while wheeling towards the goal. As the ball headed for the net Nolly got a hand on the ball just enough to deflect the shot inches wide left of the post.

OSU’s Ryan Kustos was fouled just outside the 18-yard box in the 41st minute, setting up a free kick by Withers that was blocked. Another Hoosier foul with 15 seconds left in the half resulted in a free kick by Kyle Veris that was also blocked. Burse finished with two saves in the match.

Ohio State holds the edge in nearly every category on the statistics sheet. The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents, 25-18, and out-shot the opposition, 178-148 (12.7-10.6 avg.). OSU has put 83 of their shots on goal (.466 SOG pct.) compared to 67 for its opponents (.453 SOG pct.). The Buckeyes have committed fewer fouls, 206-237.

In Big Ten games only, Ohio State is ranked first in fewest goals allowed (0.25 gapg) and is tied for first in most goals scored (1.5 gpg). OSU is first in shutouts (3) and tied for first in goalkeeper saves (5.0 spg). Individually in Big Ten games only, Justin Cook leads the league in points per game (2.0 ppg) and goals per game (1.0 gpg). Ray Burse Jr. ranks second in saves per game (5.0 spg) and first in both shutouts (3) and goals against average (0.25).

In all games, Ohio State ranks third in goals scored (1.8 gpg), fifth in goals allowed (1.3 gapg) and second in shutouts (5). Individually in all games, Cook ranks fourth in points (1.6 ppg) and third in goals (.6 gpg), while Burse is second in both saves (3.7 spg) and goals against average (0.80).

With four consecutive shutouts to begin the month of October, Ohio State tied a school record. The Buckeyes have turned in five shutouts this season and have been shut out three times. Senior captain Justin Cook leads Ohio State in scoring this season with 22 points off nine goals and four assists. He has 30 career goals (3rd all-time) and 15 career assists (5th all-time). He has a pair of five-point games and one six-point game this season.

Sophomore Taylor Korpieski ranks second on the squad in scoring with 12 points from four goals and four assists. Freshman Xavier Balc has ten points from three goals and four assists. Junior Kyle Veris has eight points from three goals and two assists.

Four Buckeyes have started all 14 matches so far this season, including Korpieski, senior Eric Schwebach and sophomores Brent Rohrer and Dustin Kirby.

Senior Sammy Tamporello has 12 career assists, which ranks seventh in the Ohio State record book, and his 26 career points ranks second among active players. Senior Peter Withers has collected six goals and nine assists in his career for a total of 21 points, which rank third among all active players.

Junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr., who tied an Ohio State record earlier this season with four consecutive shutouts, owns a 0.80 goals against average and has 33 saves. He owns a 5-2-1 overall record. Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem played all 470 minutes of the first five matches and has a 1.92 GAA and 15 saves on the season.

Ohio State’s opponents this season are 31 games over .500 and five schools are currently ranked in the Top-25. Below is a look at how the schedules of the Big Ten members have played out thus far in 2004.

Team Opp. W-L +/- .500 In Top 25 Penn St. 159-107-29 +52 6 Indiana 141-93-30 +48 5 Michigan 146-103-35 +43 4 Ohio St. 126-95-33 +31 5 Wisconsin 135-106-29 +29 4 Mich. St. 114-110-29 +4 4 N’western 122-129-24 -7 2

For the first time in school history, Northwestern is ranked in the NSCAA Top-25 as the Wildcats checked in at No. 25 in Tuesday’s national poll. Northwestern is 10-3-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the Big Ten to sit at No. 3 in the league standings behind Indiana and Ohio State. The Wildcats are 6-1-1 at home this season and are riding a five-match unbeaten streak.

Of the 15 opponents Northwestern has played thus far, only seven have winning records. The Wildcats went 4-2-1 against those seven schools, but NU is only school in the Big Ten whose opponents have a collective record below .500 (see previous note).

Nevertheless, Northwestern has turned in some impressive wins in 2004, none more so than a 1-0 win at defending national champion Indiana Oct. 17, which marked the Hoosier’s first Big Ten regular season loss since 1995. A 2-2 tie vs. Penn State and a 2-1 win at Michigan were also impressive results.

In Big Ten games only, Northwestern ranks fifth in goals per game (1.25) and third in goals allowed per game (1.00). Gerardo Alvarez leads the Wildcats in scoring with 26 points off 10 goals and six assists, while goalkeepers Justin Pines and Brian Heckenbach have combined to average 4.5 saves per game

Ohio State is 10-0-1 in its last 11 meetings against Northwestern and leads the all-time series against the Wildcats 13-2-2. Listed below are the last six meetings between OSU and NU.

Year Location Winner Score 2003 Columbus tie 1-1 ot 2002 Evanston OSU 2-0 2001 Columbus OSU 2-1 2000 Evanston OSU 2-0 1999 Columbus OSU 5-0 1998 Evanston OSU 3-0

Ohio State played to a 1-1 tie against a visiting Northwestern squad last season as the Buckeyes dominated the first half and led 1-0 at halftime, but saw the Wildcats came back to force overtime and come away with a tie.

“I believe we were extremely tired and exhausted from playing a hard fought game Friday against Pittsburgh (1-0 Ohio State win),” Bluem said after the match last season. “Our team just did not play well and execute this afternoon.”

Ohio State out-shot Northwestern 11-3 in the first half, with the last of those 11 Buckeye shots finding the back of the net as Taylor Korpieski knocked in a header from eight yards out at the 44:20 mark. Korpieski’s goal was set up by a cross into the goalkeeper box from Kevin Nugent.

After dominating the first half, however, Ohio State was kept quiet the rest of the afternoon as Northwestern out-shot the Buckeyes 8-5 following halftime. The Wildcats tied the game midway through the second half as Will Nicholas kicked in a close-range goal following a Wildcat corner kick from Gerardo Alvarez at the 63:23 mark.

Valparaiso is 4-7-3 this season and plays at Missouri-Kansas City Friday afternoon before hosting the Buckeyes Sunday. The Crusaders are coming off a big 2-0 win last Sunday at home vs. IUPUI, which spent much of the early part of the season ranked in the Great Lakes regional poll.

Jon Brighton leads Valpo in scoring with 11 points off five goals and an assist, while former Buckeye D.J. Catrow has seven points from two goals and three assists. In goal, Jeff Oleck owns a 1.58 goals against average with 70 saves.

Ohio State owns a 2-0-1 series lead over Valparaiso, winning 1-0 at Valpo in 1992 and 4-1 in Columbus in 1993 before tying the Crusaders 1-1 in Columbus last season.

Ohio State out-shot Valparaiso 16-5 in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium last season, but the Buckeyes were unable to find the back of the net as the game ended in a 0-0 tie at the conclusion of double-overtime.

The Buckeyes held Valparaiso without a shot on goal in the 110-minute contest, while OSU had three shots on goal, all of which came in the second half when the Buckeyes out-shot Valparaiso 9-2. The Buckeyes also held the edge in corner kicks 11-1.

Three Ohio State players have been nominated for Academic All-America honors, including seniors Eric Schwebach and Peter Withers and sophomore Jim Fisher. To be nominated, players must have a minimum grade point average of 3.20. All three OSU nominees are business majors in the prestigious Ohio State Fisher College of Business.

Ohio State head coach John Bluem won his school-record 73rd career game Oct. 17 as the Buckeyes shut out Penn State, 3-0. The victory moves Bluem past Al Bianco (1979-86) and Gary Avedikian (1987-96), who both had 72 wins in their tenures.

“We have had some great players at Ohio State and it’s an honor to hold that record at such a great institution,” Bluem said. “I have had the good fortune to work in a fully funded program and with great facilities. Ohio State has great tradition in soccer and has had some great coaches and to be at the top of that list is quite an honor.”

The Buckeyes’ schedule in 2004 could end up being even tougher than their 2003 schedule, which was ranked as the eighth-toughest in the nation at the end of the season. Ohio State’s 2004 opponents posted a .627 winning percentage last year with an overall record of 195-106-49. Seven of those teams were among the 48-member 2003 NCAA Tournament field.

Head Coach John Bluem
Oct. 18, on Ohio State’s four consecutive shutouts
“It has taken us awhile, but we have hit a nice level of consistency. The guys are excited about what’s happening. We have finally found a system that has our best players all on the field together.

“Moving Kyle Veris to a central defensive role was a big key. It was kind of an experiment, but he has played every minute there since then and established himself as an important part of the team. It also allowed Balc to move up to a forward spot and he has done very well there. We have also been injury free.”

Oct. 17, on being 3-0-0 in the Big Ten
“We still have three very difficult games ahead of us, but it’s nice to have put together some good results through the first half of the conference season. That will help with our confidence to know that we’re competitive and have a great chance at doing well in the Big Ten.”

Eric Schwebach, senior defender
Oct. 26, on the Indiana match
“It was a hard-fought, physical match and that’s what we expect with every game that we play in the Big Ten. We were excited for the Indiana game with there being a lot on the line and at stake. Both teams played well.”

Oct. 26, on Senior Day vs. Indiana
“It was an awesome event and there were a lot of people in the stands, which made it even more special. The fact that it was our last home game hasn’t really sunk in yet, obviously we were focused more about the match that was about to start.”

Oct. 26, on the remaining games
“Every game is going to be a battle. This team is really pushing each other to make the NCAA tournament, so every game is going to be crucial, not only for the Big Ten standings but for national recognition. So we’re going to go into it with the mindset that we need to win all three.”

Peter Withers, senior midfielder
Oct. 26, on the Indiana match
“Indiana came out and played hard and we matched them. We played physical, as well. In the first half both teams were just going at each other, and in the second half they took it to another level and we couldn’t really sustain ours and they scored a goal to win it.”

Oct. 26, on Senior Day vs. Indiana
“It was an incredible feeling. Our four years are coming to an end, but at the same time we’re looking ahead. We have three more games left we want to win and then do well in the Big Ten tournament and hopefully get into the NCAA tournament. It’s sad, but at the same time we still have a lot to play for.”

Oct. 26, on the remaining games
“Northwestern is a really good team. They’ve improved a lot the last few years, so it’s going to be a tough game. We have to come out and do our best and get the result.”

### Go Bucks! ###