COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five student-athletes have committed to join the defending Big Ten champion men’s soccer team beginning in the 2010 season, announced head coach John Bluem Monday. Sage Gardner, Alec Lowell, Felipe Santibanez and Omar Vallejo will join the Buckeyes as freshmen, while Jon Moore will enter Ohio State as a junior college transfer.
“We are very pleased with this group of recruits,” Bluem, who enters his 14th season in 2010, said. “They have great character and academic integrity, in addition to tremendous skill. We have been able to strengthen the squad in a few key areas as we look forward to next season.”
Sage Gardner // D – Columbus, Ohio – Worthington Kilbourne
A four-year starter at Worthington Kilbourne under head coach Jon Sprunger, Gardner is a three-time All-Ohio Capital Conference honoree, earning first-team honors as a senior in 2009. He also was a two-time team MVP for his high school squad that finished the year as regional finalists in 2007 and 2008. In club action, Gardner is the team captain of the U18 Crew Soccer Academy squad.
Alec Lowell // M – Weston, Fla. – American Heritage
Joining current Buckeye Joshua Breto as players to hail from the Sunshine State, Lowell led his high school team to the state championship and a fifth-place national ranking as a junior in 2008. After playing three years with the Florida ODP team, Lowell joined the Miami FC Kendall academy program and has played with the U16 and U18 squads.
Jon Moore // M/D – Toledo, Ohio – Toledo Christian – Owens CC
The brother of former Buckeye Joe Moore (2007-09), Moore transfers to Ohio State after two years at Owens Community College in Toledo, where he was captain and Second Team All-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference last season. Prior to his two years at Owens, Moore lettered four years at Toledo Christian and earned first team all-area and all-league, as well as team MVP, accolades. Moore also spent time with the Toledo Celtics and Toledo Slayers club programs in high school.
Felipe Santibanez // M – Heredia, Costa Rica – Saint Paul
Santibanez comes to Ohio State with international experience after playing with the U17 Costa Rican National Team in the final round of qualifying for the 2009 U17 FIFA World Cup in Nigeria. He also is a member of the Saprissa youth program, helping lead the club to the U15 national championship in 2008 after spending several years in the LDA program. In 2007, Santibanez and LDA captured third place in the Gothia Cup (an international youth tournament) in Sweden.
Omar Vallejo // F – Reynose, Mexico – St. Stephen’s Episcopal (Texas)
A product of the same club program and high school as Buckeye captain Matt Gold, Vallejo is a three-year captain and leading scorer of both his Lonestar FC and St. Stephen’s squads. His Lonestar FC team finished 2009 as Disney Showcase champions and Dallas Cup finalists, a year after Vallejo was selected a Disney All-Star selection and traveled to London for the First Annual Chelsea FC Tournament.