Five sign National Letters of Intent to play for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio John Bluem, head coach of the Ohio State men’s soccer team, announced the signing of four high school seniors and one junior college transfer to National Letters of Intent to don the Scarlet and Gray for the 2009 season.

The class includes:  Jeff Bendawald (Meridian, Idaho), Christopher Hegngi (Silver Spring, Md.), Benjamin Killian (Round Rock, Texas), Sebastian Rivas (Duarte, Calif.) and Alexander Wimmer (Newtown, Pa.).

“Each member of this recruiting class has an incredible amount of potential and I am eager to see them on the field for the first time with the group of talented players we have returning,” Bluem said. “They are expected to challenge for playing time from the beginning and I am confident in their ability to represent Ohio State both on and off the field in the coming season and beyond.”

The incoming five players will join a group of three non-scholarship freshmen Christopher Gomez (Ballwin, Mo.), Peter Lee (Midlothian, Va.) and Ryan Lee (Moreland Hills, Ohio) on a Buckeye squad that returns six starters from the 2008 team that finished the season 9-9-3 overall and 2-4 in the Big Ten with a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bendawald is a junior college transfer from Yavapai College (Ariz.), where he played two years at left back for the two-time NJCAA National Champions. A native of Meridian, Idaho, and former Boise National Club player, he started in 50 of 51 career games, scoring eight goals and tallying 10 assists during the Roughriders’ 50-2-0 run through the last two national final games.

Hegngi, who goes by “CT,” is a product of the D.C. United youth development program, leading the U17 team to the 2007 MLS Cup championship and a win in the SUM-17 International Tournament in Spain. The forward from outside Washington, D.C., attended DeMatha High School, earning All-Met honors from the Washington Post after also being recognized as a 2009 ESPN Gatorade player of the year candidate. He also is a three-year member of the US national team pool.

A defender from south Texas, Killian and his Lonestar Aztex U17 club team finished the 2008 season as a Dallas Cup semifinalist and Disney Showcase finalist.

Rivas, a midfielder/defender from the greater Los Angeles area, is most recently a member of the Real SoCal club team with the US Soccer Development Academy after spending five years with FC Barcelona of the Coast Soccer League. With FC Barcelona, Rivas earned a pair of Surf Cup Championships and finished as a finalist for the Cal South National Cup. He also lettered three years for Bishop Amat Memorial HS, earning first team all-league and all-region honors.

Wimmer, a 6-foot-4 goalkeeper, has extensive international experience after playing at the Munich International School where he won the 2006 ISST European Championship, and with 1860 Munich (Germany) and FC Middlesbrough (England) as part of US Developmental Academy play. He also was a three-year member of FC Delco (2006-08), with whom he won the Region I championship each of his three seasons. Wimmer is now enrolled and played the last two seasons at Council Rock North HS in his hometown of Newtown, Pa.

The five signees, along with Gomez, Lee, Lee and the current Buckeye team members open exhibition play for the 2009 season August 17 at Rutgers before traveling to Ft. Wayne, Ind., for neutral site contests Aug. 22. Ohio State opens the regular season with the Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic and games against Cal State Fullerton and UCLA, Sept. 4 and 6. Stay tuned to for the complete 2009 schedule.