Sept. 1, 2004

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2004 regular season kicks off this weekend as the Buckeye men’s soccer team hosts the Ohio State Classic in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. A pair of Atlantic Coast Conference powers, as well as Big Ten member Penn State, visit Columbus for matches Sept. 3 and Sept. 5.

Penn State will take on No. 6 North Carolina Friday at 5 p.m. followed by the Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wake Forest match at 7:30 p.m. Then on Sunday, the Demon Deacons and Nittany Lions will meet at noon followed by the final match of the Classic as the Buckeyes host the Tar Heels.

Eighth-ranked Wake Forest and sixth-ranked North Carolina represent the two highest-ranked teams to ever take on the Buckeyes in Columbus in back-to-back matches. 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.

Ohio State played to a 2-2 draw vs. No. 12 Rutgers last Friday night 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 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.

A pair of newcomers and last season’s leading scorer led the Buckeye offense in the three exhibition matches. Junior Kyle Veris led Ohio State with seven points as he scored a goal in each contest and added one assist, while freshman Xavier Balc was close behind with six points from two goals and two assists. Balc took a team-high 11 shots and five shots on goal.

Sophomore Taylor Korpieski also collected six points from two goals and two assists, which equals his team-high point total from all of last season when he became the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Justin Cook did it in 2000. Cook, with 21 career goals and 11 assists, returns in 2004 after missing last season because of injury. He took three shots in the preseason was held without a goal, although his play helped set up the Buckeyes’ offensive attack.

Senior Sammy Tamporello had a goal and an assist, while junior Kevin Nugent had a goal and senior Peter Withers had two assists. In goal, freshman Casey Latchem and returning starter junior Ray Burse Jr. split time evenly in the preseason, with Latchem playing the first half of each match (one goal allowed) and Burse handling the second half (two goals allowed).

Making starts defensively were senior Eric Schwebach, sophomores Jim Fisher, Dustin Kirby and Brent Rohrer and freshman Ben Oliver. Ohio State returns four players that have at least 35 career starts each, including seniors Cook, Tamporello, Schwebach and Withers. Of the ten players that logged at least 1,000 minutes of field time last fall, six are back, including Schwebach (1,437), Tamporello (1,015), Korpieski (1,295), Burse (1,473), Rohrer (1,222) and Kirby (1,712).

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 have faced both the Demon Deacons and Tar Heels before, but it has been quite some time. OSU has twice played Wake Forest, dropping a 2-0 match in Columbus in 1981 and falling 2-1 in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1988.

More recently, the Buckeyes met North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1993 and were dealt a 4-1 setback.

Eighth-ranked Wake Forest ended the 2003 season ranked No. 15 in the country after falling in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. The Demon Deacons posted a 15-5 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was ranked as the toughest conference in the country. Head coach Jay Vidovich, now in his 11th season, is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University in nearby Delaware, Ohio. He welcomes back 16 letterwinners and eight starters in 2004, including a pair of two-time All-ACC selections in Michael Parkhurst and Justin Moose.

Sixth-ranked North Carolina posted a 12-4-4 overall record in 2003 and a 2-3-1 mark in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament and checked in at No. 18 in the final national poll. Nine starters and 14 letterwinners return in 2004 for 15th year head coach Elmar Bolowich, who will look to returning forwards Marcus Storey and Jamie Watson for the offensive attack this season.

After winning the Big Ten championship in 2002, Penn State was an uncharacteristic 9-10-1 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten in 2003. Head coach Barry Gorman, the all-time wins leader at PSU, has seven strong seniors aiming to erase last season. The Nittany Lions, picked No. 2 in the Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll, will be led offensively by senior Chad Severs and sophomore Simon Omekanda.

Live stats from the Ohio State Classic and all Buckeye home matches will be 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.

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’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.

Goalkeepers: Junior Ray Burse Jr. returns after posting a 1.27 goals-allowed average last year with 52 saves in his first season as a starter.”Ray is penciled in to be our goalkeeper, but he’ll be seriously challenged by (freshman) Casey Latchem,” Bluem said. “He and Ray will challenge each other and we’ll have two competent goalkeepers.”

Defenders: The Buckeyes lost three talented defenders to graduation following last season, signaling a changing of the guard at this area on the field. Senior Eric Schwebach is back for his third year as a full-time starter, while sophomores Dustin Kirby and Brent Rohrer started 20 and 18 games, respectively, last season between the midfield and defender spots. “We have added some new defenders and are going to have to make some adjustments and have people play in defensive roles that perhaps were midfielders last year or were forwards in high school when we recruited them,” Bluem said.

Midfielders: Ohio State’s midfield group is deep and talented and will be the strength of the team while the defenders gel and the forwards find their rhythm. “Midfielder, along with our front line, is probably where we return our most experienced group,” Bluem said. “Pete Withers and Sammy Tamporello have basically been four-year starters and Adam Schauer started just about every game last year. Brent Rohrer started every game last year in the midfield and although we’ve moved him to the back he could still end up in the midfield. Taylor Korpieski and Rob Strachan played a ton last season, so there are six midfielders right there that have all played a significant amount of time last year and we thought they did well.”

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. “Justin Cook is going to have a good season because this year will be the springboard to his professional career,” Bluem said. “In the spring he was able to play for us and what a dramatic difference in how dangerous we looked as a team. Kevin Nugent worked very hard in the offseason and had a very productive spring. Veris is a big, strong center forward. I think he is a force and with him, Cook and Nugent we have a rotation of three forwards that all three will be very dangerous.”

Seniors Matt McCune, Sam Migliano, David Ridenhour and AJ Weber will be missed as the Buckeyes begin preparations for the 2004 season. That quartet helped lead Ohio State into the national postseason scene for the first time in school history in 2000 and 2001.

McCune, Migliano and Ridenhour all started in the defensive line, while Weber started at either defender or midfielder. In 2003, Ohio State once again owned one of the Big Ten’s best defenses. In conference games, the Buckeyes allowed 1.33 goals per game, which ranked second (tie), while in all games the Buckeyes allowed 1.16 goals per game, which ranked third.

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 then traveled to East Lansing for an Oct. 5 match-up with Michigan State, where Ohio State was defeated, 2-1, in double-overtime. 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, where they were defeated by the eventual national champions, 3-0, Oct. 19. Back in Columbus Oct. 26, the Buckeyes out-shot Northwestern 16 to 11, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie in double-overtime. In the final game of the Big Ten regular season, Ohio State 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 to Wisconsin in Bloomington, Ind., Nov. 13.

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 last Friday
“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. 31, on the start of the regular season
“There’s a lot of work to do yet, and unfortunately the preseason is over. Now it starts for real. This weekend, we’ll get stretched really hard and it’s up to us to perform well at home to get a positive result out of the weekend. There are different degrees to what that could represent, but if we’re able to pull two upsets we’ll feel really good about where we are at right now because it will have been against quality competition.”

Aug. 26, about training camp thus far
“We’re pleased with the results of the first two exhibition games. This team, following last year, needed a bit of a confidence builder here in the preseason to feel good about themselves and build up to the match this weekend against Rutgers, who is ranked 12th in the country, and next weekend against Wake Forest and North Carolina, who are both ranked high, too.
“The attacking side of things has gone well. We’re creating a lot of good opportunities. The finishing isn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be, so that’s something we’ll continue to work on. Defensively, we haven’t been stretched that much yet, so we’re still trying to learn. We’ve been experimenting with a lot people in the back trying to settle on who the back four are going to be.
“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.”

May 28, about the 2004 season
“We have good depth at all of the positions. The question mark may be, who is going to step up and win the job as our defenders. Which players are going to show that they deserve to be on the field defensively and where are they going to play. That will be the main thing we need to resolve.
“I am excited about the freshmen that are coming in. I’m pleased with the seniors and the other upperclassmen. I think we’re going to be a good team that will really turn things around from last year.”

May 28, about Ohio State’s versatility in 2004
“We are going to have to experiment a little bit in some different shapes to see what works out best. The goal is to get the best 10 players on the field. I think we’re going to be able to play a number of different systems, which will make us more dangerous and more flexible. If another team plays a certain way, we can adapt our system to theirs so that we are tactically prepared to play that particular team. I think we’ll have the types of players and the versatility to do that.”

May 28, about the 2004 schedule
“We have a challenging schedule again. The preseason schedule is very good because they’re good opponents that play different styles, so we’ll get to play against different shapes and systems in preseason. They’re all here in Columbus, which is good the way it worked out because we’re not running around all over the place.
“We’re going to have a good preseason because everyone is going to play a lot and we’re going to figure out the best way for us to play. “We’re going to have three good, quality games under our belt (before the regular season starts), including a good Rutgers team that went to the round of 16 last year, at Crew Stadium, before we play two teams that will probably be ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason poll in Wake Forest and North Carolina. So those first five games can become very pivotal for us in terms of setting the standard of where this team is going to go and what it is going to accomplish. If we can get through those preseason games and not only do we have to play well and learn about ourselves but win them. We have to develop a winning mentality in our team. That will start with these three exhibition games and hopefully it will carries into the opening tournament, because with the quality of opposition in that tournament, if you win, win and tie or even split during the weekend you will have beaten a nationally ranked team and a perennial NCAA contender, so that will kick us off to a good start.”

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.”

Sammy Tamporello, Aug. 31, on the upcoming matches vs. Wake Forest and North Carolina
“We know they’re both really good teams. It’ll be a true test this weekend to see if we can hang with both of them. We want to show we can compete with any team in the nation. We’re all excited to play this weekend.”

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.”

Justin Cook, Aug. 25, on the status of the OSU offense and returning to the lineup
“We have looked solid. We have a lot of young guys that can play the ball around and get into scoring positions. It’s really nice not to have to watch this year and I think it helps out a lot to be able to get in there and mix it up a little bit and have the young guys see that. We have good leadership from the older guys and the young guys are really stepping up.”

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.

The honorary captain for Sept. 3 is Daniel Jones of Westerville, and the honorary captain for Sept. 5 is Nicholas Cobb of Grove City. 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

### Go Bucks! ###