Six Ohio State seniors play their last regular season home game in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s soccer team returns to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to take on fourth-ranked Akron at 7:30 p.m. Friday. This is the last regular season contest of the season as the Buckeyes begin to defend their Big Ten Championship in the conference tournament, Nov. 13-16, in Madison, Wis.
     Ohio State is 9-6-2 on the season, while the Zips are 14-1-3 and ranked No. 4 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 poll. The Buckeyes are not ranked by the NSCAA; however, they appear at No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. 

     All OSU students with ID will be admitted to the game for free. Tickets for adults are $5 and youth are $3. All fans are invited to participate in a postgame autograph session with the Buckeye players.

     The Buckeyes dropped a 1-0 decision to No. 18 Michigan last Saturday. Perica Marosevic scored the lone goal of the game late in the 82nd minute for Michigan off an assist by Chris Cameron. The goal increased Marosevic team-leading point total to 23 off 10 goals and three assists.

     The Big Ten Tournament begins Nov. 13 with two quarterfinal contests. Michigan State has already claimed the No. 1 seed in the tournament and a first-round bye after capturing the regular season championship. Full tourney pairings will be released this weekend after the conclusion of conference games Friday.

     Ohio State is currently No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. After 14-consecutive weeks in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 poll, the Buckeyes dropped out of the rankings in the Oct. 21 poll. They have also since fallen out of the Soccer America and College Soccer News polls. 
     After climbing to a season-high position of No. 2 in the NSCAA poll last week, Akron dropped down to fourth after tying Penn State and defeating Hartwick last week.

     Akron arrives in Columbus as the No. 4 team in the nation with a 13-game win streak in tow after tying Penn State, 1-1, and defeating Hartwick, 2-1, last week. The win over Hartwick completed the Zips’ seventh undefeated MAC season and secured their conference-best 11th regular season conference title in 16 seasons.
     Steve Zakuani leads Akron with 17 goals this season – a mark that is third in the NCAA. He is also third in the nation in points per game (2.17), while goalkeeper Evan Bush owns a 0.326 goals-against average that is second in the NCAA. The Zips have shut out 12 opponents this season and allowed just six goals between six different opponents.
     They have allowed one goal in each of their last two contests, marking the first time this season an opposing team has scored in back-to-back games.
     The Buckeyes trail in the all-time series 6-21-2, thought they have not lost since the 2005 season. The two teams tied last season, 1-1, and in 2006, Taylor Korpieski scored the game-winning goal for Ohio State in the 71st minute as the team blanked then-No. 21 Akron, 1-0, Sept. 25.

     Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel earned his master’s degree in Education from Akron in 1977. He began as a graduate assistant coach with the Zips in 1975 and remained through the 1978 season, serving in a full-time capacity his last three seasons as coach of the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs.

     The game against Akron marks the last home regular-season game for six Buckeye seniors:

German Gomez: A transfer from Division III Trinity, German provided a spark off the bench this season. He played in 10 games in the midfield, scoring two goals and averaging 22 minutes per contest. His scores came against Furman and Eastern Illinois and helped the Buckeyes tally wins in each contest.

Drew Czekanski: Drew joined the Buckeyes last spring as a graduate student after spending four years with the Virginia Tech soccer program. In his one season with Ohio State, he has emerged as one of the most successful goalkeepers in the Big Ten. He has spent the majority of the 2008 season in the Top 3 in goals-against average and save percentage among conference keepers.    

Patrick Roan: A four-year letterwinner with the Buckeyes, Patrick has become one of the team’s steadiest defenders. After playing in four games in his first two seasons, he has started at right back in each of the last 41 games in which he has seen action. Patrick also holds three goals to his credit, including two this season and the game-winner against Cleveland State.

Tim Gabel: A 2008 tri-captain, Tim has been in the starting line-up since his sophomore campaign. Since then, he has started in 55 of the last 57 games played and has seen action in 68 total games the last four years. He has six career goals and 10 assists, while also helping the Buckeye defense to a 0.883 goals-against average over the last four years.

Danny Irizarry: A 2008 tri-captain, Danny has been the anchor of the midfield for the last two seasons. He has played in 82 career games, making 67 starts as a central midfielder. He leads the Buckeyes in 2008 with six goals, including game-winners vs. Florida Gulf Coast and Wisconsin, and has 11 goals for his career. Danny is also a reigning All-Big Ten selection.

Geoff Marsh: A 2008 tri-captain, Geoff has seen action in all but one game since he arrived at Ohio State four years ago. He has started in 69 out of 84 games with13 career assists to his credit, a mark that currently stands as eighth all time in the Buckeye record books. Geoff also has tallied seven goals, including the game-winner against then-No. 18 Tulsa on Sept. 7 this year.

     Nine teams on Ohio State’s schedule this season have spent time in the NSCAA Top 25. Seven opponents are currently ranked, including each of the final three that the Buckeyes face in the regular season. Also, each of the top four teams in the Great Lakes Region appear on the 2008 slate and six of the top seven.

     The Buckeyes’ defense, anchored by Tim Gabel, Patrick Roan, Dave Tiemstra and Doug Verhoff, has given up just 16 goals this season with a 0.94 goals-against average and six shutouts. Both marks are second in the Big Ten behind Northwestern, who is in the Top 5 in the nation in both categories.

     With the loss to Michigan, the Buckeyes are 1-3-1 against teams ranked in the NSCAA Top 25 this season. They defeated No. 18 Tulsa Sept. 7, tied No. 7 UIC and dropped decisions to No. 7 Northwestern, No. 22 Indiana and No. 18 Michigan.
     Last season, Ohio State went 7-3-2 against teams in the Top 25.

     Each of Ohio State’s last seven games and 14 of its 17 this season have been decided by one goal or less. The Buckeyes own a 6-6-2 record in those contests. In games decided by at least two goals, OSU is 3-0 with a combined 9-1 score.

     Ohio State is third in the Big Ten in shutouts with six so far this season (0.35 per game). The 1-0 blanking of Cleveland State Oct. 22 was the team’s last shutout to date. The Buckeyes went five games, allowing just one goal Sept. 21-Oct. 8, to secure four of the team’s clean sheets.

     The Buckeyes have out-scored their opponents 15-8 in the second half this season. They are 6-2-1 when tallying at least one goal in the second period.

     Patrick Roan scored his first two goals of the season in back-to-back games two weeks ago. The defender tallied the Buckeyes’ gamewinner against Cleveland State Oct. 22 before scoring the equalizer against Indiana in the 77th minute Oct. 26. 
     On the back line, Roan has helped the defense earn six shutouts this season and a 0.91 goals-against average that stands as second in the conference.

     By tallying the assist on Patrick Roan’s game-winning goal against Cleveland State Oct. 22, Geoff Marsh moved into eighth place on the career assist chart with 13. It also stands as his fifth assist of the year and his fourth on a game-winning goal. He is now second on the team in assists and has had one in two of the last three games.

     With an assist against Wisconsin Oct. 18, junior forward Andrew Magill has 12 points on the season, second only to Danny Irizarry with 13. He has scored three goals, including the game-winner against Bowling Green, and has a team-leading six assists.
     Magill is now in a four-way tie for ninth all-time in career assists with 12. He is also tied for fourth in the Big Ten.

     Senior co-captain Danny Irizarry has scored in two of the last four games, including the game-winning goal against Wisconsin Oct. 18. He currently leads the Buckeyes with six goals and is eighth in the Big Ten in total points.
     Irizarry opened the season by scoring in four of the first six games, with two scores coming off penalty kick attempts, a stat category that he is 4-for-4 in during his career.

     Freshman forward Joshua Breto scored his second game-winning goal of his career against Eastern Illinois. He is the only Buckeye player to score one GWG goal (let alone two) off the bench this season.

     Including Breto’s two game-winners, six of the Buckeyes’ goals this season have come from non-starting players – including all three against Eastern Illinois Oct. 5. Breto, Julian Sisman and German Gomez each found the back of the net in the second half.

     Outside of Danny Irizarry’s six tallies, Ohio State’s remaining 18 goals have been scored by 11 different players. The first 11 of the Buckeyes’ goals this season were scored by midfielders or defenders, including two on penalty kicks from midfielder Irizarry.

     The Buckeyes hold a combined 100-73 advantage over their opponents in corner kicks. They are currently second in Big Ten in total opportunities and average 5.88 per contest.
     An opposing team has tallied more than Ohio State just four times this season. Konrad Warzycha is the go-to player on corner kicks with Patrick Roan and Danny Irizarry each taking several opportunities as well.

     Goalkeeper Drew Czekanski is currently third in the Big Ten in goals-against average at 0.99 and third in save percentage with .803. He has had four or more saves in seven games this season, including six in back-to-back games against Cleveland State (Oct. 22) and Indiana (Oct. 26). Czekanski, who has split time with Byron Neal of late, has held opponents to one goal or less in 10 of 13 games this season.

     Senior defender Tim Gabel was named the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week and a member of the Soccer America Team of the Week after helping the Buckeyes to the win over ranked Tulsa Sept. 7. He is currently fifth on the squad in points with six from one goal and four assists, including one on Patrick Roan’s game-tying goal against Indiana.

     The win over Cleveland State Wednesday gave Ohio State its 14th-consecutive win and seventh this season at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The loss against Indiana broke the streak that dated back to Oct. 2, 2007, and a 1-0 shutout victory vs. Cal State Bakersfield. The Buckeyes’ last loss in JOMS was against Northwestern Sept. 23, 2007.
     The previous longest streak was six. The eight home wins last season tied the single-season stadium record, while the seven wins thus far this season match the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The Buckeyes are 58-21-11 there since the facility opened in 1999. 

     The winningest coach in program history, head coach John Bluem is in his 12th season at Ohio State and has guided the Buckeyes to three Big Ten titles and all five of the school’s NCAA tournament appearances (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007). His 2004 squad went to the Sweet 16’ and his 2007 squad went to the national championship game. 
     Bluem owns a 127-87-30 record at Ohio State. His career record, which includes six seasons at Fresno State, stands at 217-114-42. In 29 seasons of coaching soccer, teams Bluem has been a part of have gone 390-139-74. A fullback at traditional soccer power Hartwick College, Bluem helped guide the Warriors to the College Cup in 1974.