COLUMBUS, Ohio It is a rare occasion in college or professional athletics that a coach or player will say “it’s not about whether you win or lose” … and they actually mean it. For those involved in the Connor Senn Memorial Match between the Ohio State men’s soccer team and the Columbus Crew Tuesday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, however, the words have never been more true. The box score lists a resounding 3-1 win for the Crew, but the real victory will come in the number of dollars raised from this annual event after ticket and auction sales are totaled.
Now in its eighth year, the game raises money for the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship Fund at Ohio State, named in memory of a freshman walk-on defender who worked his way into the starting lineup nearly nine years ago before passing away doing the very thing he loved most.
Connor collapsed during Ohio State’s match at Akron Sept. 26, 2001 and died that night from a congenital heart defect. His legacy will never be forgotten at Ohio State. A plaque honoring Connor hangs outside the Buckeyes’ locker room door and Connor’s chair hangs in the locker room, which all the players on the 2001 team signed with personal messages to Connor, who was known for his tremendous work ethic, positive attitude and selfless play.
“This game has become an integral part of our program,” head coach John Bluem said after the game. “We share the story of Connor Senn with our recruits and their families before they ever come to Ohio State, so they are all aware of who Connor was and what he meant to the program. That has carried into the community now, with the help of the Columbus Crew, who have just been fantastic. I think this event has grown into a very special part of the soccer community here in Columbus and we are very, very pleased.”
Bluem, too, was pleased with his team’s effort despite the 3-1 loss to the defending Major League Soccer champions in the conclusion of the Buckeyes’ spring season. The lone Ohio State goal was tallied by freshman forward Eric Shrigley in the 45th minute off an assist by Andrew Magill. Off a restart, Magill sent a pass from the right side into the goal box for Shrigley to head into the right side of the mouth, scoring the equalizer after the Crew went up 1-0 late in the 13th minute.
The Crew’s first goal came at the 12:36 mark by Steve McCarthy off a pass from Kevin Burns following a corner kick from teammate Alex Grendi. After the teams headed into the half with a 1-1 tie, Crew head coach Robert Warzycha father of Buckeye sophomore Konrad Warzycha pulled his primarily reserve-filled lineup in favor of a few starters in the 60th minute and it quickly paid off. The second goal came in the 62nd minute of the match from Emmanuel Ekpo off a Eddie Gaven assist before the Crew stretched it to a 3-1 game off a tally from Pat Noonan, former Indiana standout, from Alejandro Moreno.
The Crew outshot the Buckeyes 20-5. Buckeye goalkeeper Matt Lampson, a redshirt freshman transfer, made two saves in the first half before junior Byron Neal came in for the second period and made four stops. Ben Dragavon and Andy Gruenebaum split time between the pipes for the Crew, combining for three saves.
Former Buckeye Eric Brunner, a starter in the last three games for the Columbus Crew, saw all 45 minutes of action in the second half, tallying one shot, while senior Geoff Marsh, who finished his eligibility with the 2008 season, dressed for the Crew as a guest player and made a start in the midfield.