Sept. 15, 2004

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The Ohio State men’s soccer team heads east again this weekend as the Buckeyes (1-2-1) battle at the Penn State/Nike Classic in State College, Pa. Ohio State will take on in-state rival Akron at 5:15 p.m. Friday and Virginia Tech at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 1-0-1 weekend and runner-up finish at the Mayor’s Cup Tournament in Oneonta, N.Y., against a pair of teams that combined to post a 25-4-7 record last season. Ohio State knocked off Oneonta State 2-0 Friday and tied Hartwick 1-1 Saturday.

Following the Penn State/Nike Classic, Ohio State will play four of its next five matches at home in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, beginning with a Sept. 24 date with Bowling Green at 5 p.m.

Through their first four matches of the regular season, which includes a pair of Top 10 opponents, the Buckeyes hold a significant edge in most categories on the statistics sheet. Ohio State has taken 24 shots on goal, compared to 16 for the opposition, and owns a .558 shots on goal percentage compared to .381 for the competition.

Ohio State holds the edge in total shots, 43-42, and has forced opposing goalkeepers into making 20 saves. Opponents have also committed more fouls, 59-53, as the Buckeyes have been whistled for the second-fewest fouls in the Big Ten (13.3 per game). Ohio State has also been called for offsides just six times, which is the fewest in the Big Ten.

Junior Kyle Veris was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament last weekend after scoring a goal in both games. His four points on the season are tied for the team lead with freshman Xavier Balc (one goal, two assists), who has assisted on Ohio State’s last two goals (by Veris and freshman Ryan Kustos). Balc’s goal came on a penalty kick vs. North Carolina Sept. 5.

In the preseason, Veris, Balc, and sophomore Taylor Korpieski all tied for the team lead in scoring with six points each. In the regular season, Veris has taken a team-high 11 shots, nine of which were on goal. Six of those shots, and five of his shots on goal, all came vs. Hartwick Saturday. Senior Justin Cook, who owns 21 career goals and 11 assists, has taken eight shots, including six on goal, but has been held out of the net so far. He missed all of last season with an injury.

Freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem has played all 380 minutes in the first four regular season matches, totaling 11 saves. Defensively, senior Eric Schwebach, sophomores Dustin Kirby and Brent Rohrer and freshman Ben Oliver have started all four matches, while sophomore Jim Fisher has three starts.

Freshman Ryan Kustos has taken four shots this season, as has Balc. In addition, it was Kustos who was fouled in the 18-yard box against North Carolina, setting up Balc’s successful penalty kick.

Senior midfielders Sammy Tamporello and Peter Withers returned to the starting lineup Friday at Oneonta State after missing the first two games. In the preseason, Tamporello had a goal and an assist, while Withers had two assists. Junior Kevin Nugent also had a goal in the exhibition season.

As further evidence the Buckeyes have reloaded their talent supply, College Soccer News ( has listed the eight-member Ohio State freshman class among the best in the nation. As a group, the Buckeye newcomers are ranked No. 35 out of the nearly 200 Division I programs in the country. Ohio State was awarded that ranking even without the inclusion of transfer Kyle Veris among the newcomers listed.

The Buckeyes and Zips have met 25 times on the soccer field, but have met only four times in the last 12 years. Ohio State has won two of the last three matches against Akron, including 2-0 in Columbus in 2002. OSU and Akron are no stranger to meeting at the Penn State/Nike Classic. In 1999 they met there, with the Zips taking a 4-2 win over the Buckeyes. Overall, Akron leads the all-time series 19-5-1. Listed below are the last five meetings between Ohio State and Akron.

Year Location Winner Score 2002 Columbus OSU 2-0 2001 Akron Akron 2-1 2000 Columbus OSU 3-1 1999 Penn St. Akron 4-2 1991 Akron Akron 3-0

Akron, of the Mid-American Conference, returns 16 letterwinners this season from its 2003 squad, which posted a 15-5-2 overall record last year and went three rounds deep into the NCAA tournament before falling to College Cup participant Maryland. The Zips are 3-0-1 so far in 2004 and ranked fifth in the Great Lakes region, having out-scored their opponents 10-1. Among those opponents is Robert Morris, which was defeated by Akron, 1-0, in the season opener and by Ohio State, 5-1, in exhibition play.

In his 15th year at Akron, head coach Ken Lolla has six starters back, including 2nd team All-MAC goalkeeper Justin Christafaris, 1st team All-MAC forward Hans Jorgen Haugland and 1st team All-MAC defender Cameron Knowles.

The Zips and Buckeyes have a multitude of connections. OSU junior Kyle Veris played his first two years of collegiate soccer at Akron before transferring to Ohio State at the start of the 2003 season. He was a high school teammate at Strongsville of Akron’s Brad Samelko. Ohio State’s Dustin Kirby and Akron’s Todd Huntington and Sinisa Ubiparipovic were high school teammates at Mentor. Ohio State’s Taylor Korpieski and Jim Fisher and Akron’s Matt Gardner were high school teammates at Thomas Worthington. Ohio State assistant coach Brian Johnson was a teammate of Akron assistant Mario Sanchez for three seasons in the mid-1990s at Fresno State. The two served as co-captains of the Bulldogs together and were coached by John Bluem, now head coach of the Buckeyes.

Eight starters are back for Virginia Tech, which went 14-5-3 a year ago and 7-3 in the Big East Conference. The Hokies advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before being eliminated by Virginia Commonwealth. Third-year head coach Oliver Weiss will now be coaching his squad as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which sent two of its members, Wake Forest and North Carolina, to Columbus Sept. 3-5 for the Ohio State Classic.

Virginia Tech is now 3-2, with one of those losses coming by a close 2-1 score to then-No. 7 ranked UNC-Greensboro (now No. 3). The Hokies are receiving votes in the and national poll.

In the Ohio State Classic last weekend, eighth-ranked Wake Forest and sixth-ranked North Carolina represented the two highest-ranked teams to ever take on the Buckeyes in Columbus in back-to-back matches. Despite suffering a pair of defeats, Ohio State took many positives out of the tournament. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-0 decision to Wake Forest but had three more shots on goal than the Demon Deacons (8 to 5). Ohio State allowed just two shots on goal to North Carolina, but the Tar Heels made both of them count to down the Buckeyes, 2-1. Ohio State sophomores Dustin Kirby (defender) and Taylor Korpieski (midfielder) were named to the all-tournament team.

The last time Ohio State faced such a challenge, however, the Buckeyes won both matches, as OSU knocked off No. 9 and defending national champion Indiana, 1-0, and No. 22 Penn State, 3-2, in the 2000 Big Ten Tournament in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. With those two victories, Ohio State secured its first NCAA tournament bid in program history.

Live stats from all Buckeye home matches are available at the men’s soccer page at Also available at that location are statistics, bios, archives and much more. Visit for the latest information from around the Big Ten Conference, including the weekly press release and players of the week.

Ohio State played to a 2-2 draw vs. No. 12 Rutgers Aug. 27 in the College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium. The match brought to a conclusion the Buckeyes’ preseason exhibition schedule, which saw OSU post a 2-0-1 record and out-score its opponents 9-3.

Ohio State out-shot those three opponents a combined 44-16 and had 19 shots on goal compared to eight for their counterparts. The Buckeyes opened exhibition play with a 5-1 win vs. Robert Morris Aug. 21 and had a 2-0 shutout vs. Pittsburgh Aug. 24.

The Buckeyes’ schedule in 2004 looks to be 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.

The Buckeyes faced 14 teams last season that at some point appeared in at least one of the national polls and two foes, Maryland and Indiana, that advanced to the College Cup. In 2003, Ohio State’s opponents posted a 215-126-47 record.

Goalkeepers: Freshman Casey Latchem has played all 380 minutes in the first four matches of the season after splitting time evenly in the preseason with returning starter Ray Burse Jr. Latchem allowed just one goal in two matches last weekend to drop his goals allowed average from 2.00 to 1.18. He has collected 11 saves and one shutout and owns a 1-2-1 overall record.
Defenders: The Buckeye defense came up with its first shutout of the season Friday in OSU’s 2-0 win over Oneonta State. Senior Eric Schwebach (the lone returning starter in the back line), sophomores Brent Rohrer and Dustin Kirby and freshman Ben Oliver have started all four matches thus far, while sophomore Jim Fisher has made three starts and junior Reid Traeger has made one. Kirby was named to the all-tournament team of the Ohio State Classic.
Midfielders: Regarded as Ohio State’s most experienced group, a pair of returning senior starters, Sammy Tamporello and Peter Withers, rejoined the starting lineup for the Mayor’s Cup Tournament last week after missing the Ohio State Classic the week before. Sophomore and returning starter Taylor Korpieski was named to the all-tournament team of the Ohio State Classic. He led the Buckeyes in scoring last season, the first freshman to do so since Justin Cook did it in 2000. This year it’s another freshman that is already having a fine season, as Xavier Balc is tied for the team-lead in scoring with four points (one goal, two assists).
Forwards: The trio of a healthy Justin Cook, Kevin Nugent and transfer Kyle Veris comprise what could be the Buckeyes’ most improved area from last year. Veris was named the Offensive MVP of the Mayor’s Cup Tournament last weekend as he scored a goal in both games. He has taken a team-high 11 shots, nine of which have been on goal, while Cook has taken eight shots, six of which have been on goal. Nugent has taken three shots and freshman Ryan Kustos, who also scored against Oneonta State, has taken four shots.

Justin Cook had a successful summer playing for the Central Florida Kraze of the Premier Development League. Cook helped lead the Kraze to the PDL championship game in Orlando, where he scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute as Central Florida notched a 1-0 victory over the Boulder Rapids Reserves. Cook was named the PDL Championship game’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts in helping Central Florida cap off a 14-3-1 season and the championship of the country’s top Under-23 league for development of professional prospects.

A trio of Ohio State players earned postseason All-Big Ten awards. Senior AJ Weber was named Second Team All-Big Ten, freshman Taylor Korpieski was named to the All-Freshman Team and senior David Ridenhour was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament Team.

Seven Ohio State players were named Academic All-Big Ten following the season. Seniors Sam Migliano and David Ridenhour, juniors Eric Schwebach and Peter Withers and sophomores Jim Fisher, Michael McCarthy and Kevin Nugent received honors for achieving a grade point average over 3.00. All seven players had a GPA of at least 3.10.

Ohio State’s demanding early-season schedule helped them to finish fourth in the Big Ten last season with a 2-3-1 record. For the tenth consecutive year, Ohio State opened its Big Ten season with a win, defeating Wisconsin, 1-0, Sept. 28 on the road. The Buckeyes were then defeated, 2-1, in overtime at Michigan State Oct. 5. For the first time since 1992 Ohio State played its first two Big Ten contests away from Columbus, but the Buckeyes were 1-1 in the league and ready for a return to Columbus.

The Buckeyes returned home to face defending Big Ten champion Penn State, Oct. 12. Scoring a season-high three goals in the match, OSU defeated the Nittany Lions, 3-1. The Buckeyes then went back on the road to face Indiana Oct. 19, where they were defeated by the eventual national champions, 3-0. Back in Columbus Oct. 26, the Buckeyes out-shot Northwestern 16 to 11, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie. Ohio State then fell to Michigan, 1-0, on Nov. 1 in the 87th minute of play, despite out-shooting the Wolverines 13 to 5. The Buckeyes dropped a 2-0 Big Ten tournament quarterfinal match Nov. 13 to Wisconsin in Bloomington, Ind.

Sept. 14, on the Buckeyes’ personnel
“In the Hartwick game, for the first time we settled in on our starting 11 that played almost the entire match. Up until that point, we were subbing a lot. So we’re still learning about some of the players and what they are capable of contributing.”

Sept. 14, on the OSU offense
“We have played four games and have scored four goals, and three of them came on restarts. That is not where we thought we would be. The players understand that needs to be better and that’s what we’re working on right now is finding ways to have scoring chances and finishing those chances.”

Sept. 14, on Akron and Virginia Tech
“Both Akron and Virginia Tech are good teams and have gotten good results this season. Akron and Ohio State have most consistently challenged to be the best team in Ohio, at least since I have been here. They are both going to be very difficult opponents and it doesn’t get any easier.”

Aug. 31, on the three exhibition matches
“We scheduled three exhibition matches because we had so many new players and we wanted to experiment and see people in different positions and find out who could do what. And we were able to do that so we have a good feeling now for what players are capable of doing and what position is best for them. It was good to get some positive results. I think the team psyche needed that from a year ago, so all those things are positives.”

Aug. 31, on the 2-2 tie vs. Rutgers Aug. 27
“The game against Rutgers was a good challenge. Preseason they were ranked 12th in the country so that tells you something. Preseason rankings aren’t always accurate but they’re based on what a program achieved the previous season, so you have to think if they were that good a year ago they’re going to be pretty good this year.”

Aug. 26, about the depth of the team
“Everywhere the depth of this team is very good and the guys know that, too. The guys know that when people come off the bench we don’t lose that much when they come in. That’s a good thing. We’ll have a lot of options and ways we can play and be able to withstand injuries and play people who are in good form.”

Justin Cook, Sept. 14, on the team’s status
“It’s starting to build and look like it’s coming together. We’re getting a little more creative. Kyle (Veris) had a great weekend and was named offensive MVP. We scored three goals and won the first game, probably should have won the second game. We’re starting to look a lot stronger.”

Justin Cook, Sept. 14, on Akron and VT
“Akron is always a fight. It’s in-state and in our region so there are big implications on that game. And they’re a solid team – they made it deep into the NCAA tournament last season and it’s always a battle when we play.”

Eric Schwebach, Sept. 14, on last weekend
“The weekend was very positive. We played two teams that had high-powered offenses. The first game against Oneonta State, they have several dangerous forwards so it was a big confidence builder to come out of that game with a shutout and a clean slate there. With Hartwick, we played 83 solid minutes of team defense and to give up that goal at the end was disheartening, but nevertheless it was a good effort put forth by the whole team.”

Eric Schwebach, Sept. 14, on the team’s attitude
“Starting the season off with teams like Wake Forest and North Carolina and to feel like we were in those games and that they could have gone either way, it’s definitely a confidence builder right off the bat. When we step on the field we know we’re going to have our chances and it’s something we can build on.”

Sammy Tamporello, Aug. 31, on preseason camp
“It went real well. We had a lot of new faces in camp – it’s a totally different team from last year. From the three exhibition games we played it looks like we’ll be able to compete with most of the Top 20 teams. Rutgers was No. 12 and in the second half we dominated and they were chasing us for most of the game. Everybody has high spirits right now and we should have a good year.”

Eric Schwebach, Aug. 25, on the rebuilding of the OSU defense after losing three starters
“I didn’t know that much about the guys coming in but I wasn’t that worried because I knew we had so much potential on this team. We have so many guys that are versatile so I knew it would be just a matter of time to find the right combination.”

At the conclusion of every Ohio State home match, Buckeye players will be available for autographs at the south end of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Kids, to register for your chance to be an honorary captain at a future Buckeye home men’s soccer game, visit the men’s soccer page at

A notice to those attending the Sept. 24 home match at 5 p.m. vs. Bowling Green, be aware that doors open at 6 p.m. in the nearby Schottenstein Center for the Metallica concert. Also for the BGSU match, OSU students will be admitted free of charge when presenting their BUCK-ID, and new students can pick up coupons at Scarlet Fever Sept. 22 good for a free hot dog at the match.

### Go Bucks! ###