Aug. 27, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Facing No. 12 Rutgers in the College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium Friday night, the Ohio State men’s soccer team came away with a 2-2 draw in its final exhibition match of the preseason. The Buckeyes held a 1-0 lead at halftime and led 2-1 midway through the second half, but the Scarlet Knights answered both Ohio State goals to salvage the tie.
Ohio State ends its exhibition slate with a 2-0-1 record, while Rutgers, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2003, is now 0-1-1 in exhibition action.
“I am pleased with our performance tonight,” head coach John Bluem said. “We came out strong in the second half and outplayed them. We needed a game like this to build our confidence.”
Freshman Xavier Balc (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) got the scoring started for Ohio State in the 41st minute when he drilled a penalty kick just under the cross bar into the back of the net after Buckeye junior Kevin Nugent (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) had been taken down just outside the right edge of the goalkeeper box by Rutgers’ Joe Donoho.
The goal was Balc’s second of the preseason. He led the Buckeyes with 11 shots and five shots on goal in exhibition play.
OSU freshman goalkeeper Casey Latchem (Perrysburg, Ohio/Perrysburg) collected one save in the first half as the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Playing the entire first half of each of Ohio State’s three preseason games, Latchem allowed just one goal.
Rutgers tied the match at 1-all in the 56th minute when Nick LaBrocca knocked in a header from seven yards out off an assist from Zach Simi.
OSU junior Kyle Veris (Strongsville, Ohio/Univ. of Akron) put Ohio State up 2-1 in the 63rd minute after knocking in a shot from close range after Balc booted a direct kick into the goalkeeper box following a Rutgers’ foul.
Rutgers tied the score at 2-2 in the 68th minute on a penalty kick of their own as LaBrocca drilled a low liner into the bottom left corner of the net past OSU junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. (Prospect, Ky./St. Xavier).
In the first half, Buckeye sophomore Dustin Kirby (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) foiled a pair of Scarlet Knight scoring chances in the 30th minute when Rutgers’ Andrew Herman twice drove the ball into the 18-yard box, only to have it knocked away by Kirby.
Ohio State will kick off the 2004 regular season next weekend as No. 8 Wake Forest and No. 6 North Carolina visit Columbus for the Ohio State Classic. The Buckeyes will face the Demon Deacons at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then will meet the Tar Heels at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Fellow Big Ten member Penn State will also be in action against the two Atlantic Coast Conference Powers at 5 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday.
“Wake Forest and North Carolina’s play mirrors that of Rutgers,” Bluem said. “Now we know what it will take to start our season on a successful note.”
### GO BUCKS! ###