Aug. 27, 2003

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The Ohio State men’s soccer team will get the 2003 season underway this weekend at the Cal State-Fullerton Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The Buckeyes will meet host Cal State-Fullerton Friday before concluding the Classic Sunday against defending NCAA champion UCLA.

The Buckeyes’ last trip further west than Big Ten member Iowa came at the start of the 2000 season, when Ohio State traveled to Nevada for two games at UNLV. The Buckeyes dropped a 3-0 decision to the hosts before defeating New Mexico 4-0.

In preseason action, Ohio State hosted fifth-ranked SMU last Friday night in the College Cup Preview Match in Columbus Crew Stadium, with the visitors coming away with a 5-0 win.

Both of Ohio State’s opponents in the Classic will be new foes for the Buckeyes. This weekend will be the first game in the all-time series against Cal State-Fullerton and UCLA. The fourth team at Fullerton this weekend, whom the Buckeyes will not face, is fellow Big Ten member Penn State. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will square off Oct. 12 in Columbus.

Ohio State said goodbye to a talented senior class in the offseason, which included Tony Earp, Todd Grossnickle, John Tomaino, Jake Traeger and Andy Rosenband. Four of those players received All-Big Ten honors last season, as did then-junior Justin Cook, who will also be absent from the OSU lineup in 2003 because of an injury suffered in May. Despite those losses, Bluem returns 19 letterwinners, including six players that started at least eight games last fall and a total of 10 players that started at least one game. Leading scorers back from last season include Sammy Tamporello (10 points), Kevin Nugent (8 points), Peter Withers (6 points), AJ Weber (6 points) and Jason Ryan (5 points).

The Buckeyes return three starters at the defender position, including seniors David Ridenhour and Matt McCune. Ridenhour will serve as the Buckeye captain this year. In goal, junior Chad Brown returns after posting a Big Ten-best eight shutouts in 2002.

For a complete season preview, visit the men’s soccer web site at

Information on the Ohio State men’s soccer team and the 35 other Buckeye sports is available online at the official website of the Ohio State Department of Athletics,

In the annual Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll released Aug. 25, Ohio State is ranked fourth, tied with Michigan State. Indiana is ranked first, riding a conference undefeated streak of 36 games and coming off a 27th all-time and 16th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll 1. Indiana 2. Penn State 3. Michigan 4. Ohio State Michigan State 6. Wisconsin 7. Northwestern

The Buckeyes will depart Thursday afternoon from Columbus via Northwest Airlines for the trip to Fullerton, Calif., this weekend. Ohio State will return Monday, again through Northwest Airlines.

Ohio State ended its preseason camp last week and hosted fifth-ranked SMU Friday night in the College Cup Preview Match in Crew Stadium. SMU goalkeepers T.J. Tomasso and Erick Foss combined for three saves, with two of those coming on Buckeye solo break-aways. SMU out-shot Ohio State 7-3 in the first half en route to a 2-0 halftime lead. The Mustangs then tacked on three more goals during a 15-minute span early in the second half to put the game away. OSU sophomore Kevin Nugent had two shots to lead the offense, while eight other Buckeyes had one shot each.

Just returning from a three-week exhibition tour in Italy, Cal State-Fullerton begins the 2003 season by hosting the CS-Fullerton Classic. The Titans are returning 10 starters, including two goalkeepers and leading scorer Hector Orellana. Fullerton is coming of an 8-9-3 record in 2002, including a 1-0 record against the Big Ten. That win came by a 2-1 final score at home over Indiana, who went on to win the Big Ten and advance to the NCAA tournament.

Al Mistri attended the University of Bologna in Italy before coming to Southern California, where he graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1970. He received his U.S. Soccer Federation “A” coaching license in 1976 and began his coaching career with the Titans in 1981. In 2000 he led his team to the first round of the NCAA tournament, with his best appearance coming in 1993 when they advanced to the NCAA semifinals. Mistri will begin his 23rd year at CS-Fullerton with a 246-169-35 record with the Titans.

The Bruins, defending national champions, are returning seven starters from last year’s squad, which finished 18-3-3. Goalkeeper Zach Wells returns after receiving second team All-Far West honors with a 0.76 goals against average. UCLA is ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA/adidas preseason national rankings. In their only contest against a Big Ten school last season, UCLA beat Penn State in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, 7-1

Returning for his second season at UCLA is head coach Tom Fitzgerald. Last season, Fitzgerald became the first NCAA Division I coach to win a national championship in his first year with the program. Fitzgerald’s coaching career began at the University of Tampa, where he was the head coach from 1987-1996 and led his 1994 team to the Division II National Championship. Fitzgerald went professional as head coach for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew. He coached the Crew for six years, posting a 70-67-7 record before heading west to UCLA.

On the SMU game Aug. 22
“SMU is a great team. It was a good test for us, but I think our guys realize that if we want to get to the next level, we are going to need more intensity. Defensively they picked us apart. I was a little disappointed with our effort and hopefully we can rebound in our next game. It was a good experience, though, and hopefully we will learn something from this and begin to play with a little bit more intensity. “We didn’t look very sharp in attacking play and the chances that we did create, we didn’t take advantage of. That’s certainly an area we need to work on. We learned more about ourselves defensively and we learned where we are in the pecking order. The best thing about the SMU game is that it served as a wake-up call to us, because we were clearly not good enough.”

On CS-Fullerton and UCLA
“I haven’t seen Cal State-Fullerton in a few years. We used to play against them all the time. Most of your California teams are very technical, like SMU was–quick, technical players that can keep possession of the ball very well. UCLA is the defending national champion and had a very good recruiting class. I think they’ll be better than SMU was. So we’ll see how much we’ve learned by the time we get to that game. I anticipate that it’ll be two very difficult games for us.”

Matt McCune
On how the SMU game will help the team
“The SMU game was a big wake up call. I was definitely a lesson to our older and younger players. We need to have a good week of practice and improve our game for next weekend.”

On what they learned from the SMU game
“What didn’t we learn from that game? Anytime you win or lose, you learn different things. We will discuss it in practice and we will figure out what our mistakes were.”

A.J. Weber
On what the team needs to focus on this week
“We need to focus on the simple and little things. I think we played descent, we just didn’t put it all together.”

On looking forward to this week’s games
“I have been looking forward to this tournament since it has been on the schedule. It is going to be exciting to go out to California and play two tough teams.”

Peter Withers
On the OSU offense against SMU
“Our offense wasn’t totally on, but we had a couple chances of getting in behind and basically we had five really good chances. We should have put away two or three of them. A lack of scoring ability right now for us is why we didn’t do it. We’ll try to come out and trainer harder offensively and try to put some goals away this weekend.

“There were a few times in the SMU game where we won the ball defensively and we went forward, but just didn’t put it away, so I think this coming week we’ll work a lot on that, just finishing chances.”

David Ridenhour
On preparations for UCLA and CS-Fullerton
“We are trying to regroup right now from last week’s game. We are trying to stay positive and learn from our mistakes. We want to have a good performance out in California this weekend.”

On what OSU if focusing on in practice
“The back line definitely needs to improve their communication and get that solidified.”

Kevin Nugent
On what OSU is focusing on in practice
“We are trying to get in better shape and work together as a team, so we can play two good matches this weekend.”

On this week’s games in California
“We are hoping to go in and do well. We are aiming to win Friday’s game against Cal State-Fullerton and then Sunday’s match against the defending national champions should be a great game.”