Aug. 25, 2004

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 10 Ohio State women’s soccer team will begin its 2004 season with a trip west to meet 2002 National Champion Portland at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 27 and the Washington Huskies at 4:30 p.m., Aug. 29. Both matches are part of the Husky/Nike Invitational at the Husky Soccer Field in Seattle, Wash. The matches will mark OSU’s first trip west since they traveled to Berkeley, Calif., in 2002, where the Buckeyes competed in the California Invitational against St. Mary’s and California.

There is much optimism at Ohio State going into the 2004 season. And why not? The Buckeyes are rich in experience with the return of all 11 starters and 22 letter winners from a team that finished a program best 13-5-3 and gained its second consecutive bid to the NCAA tournament in 2003.Head Coach Lori Walker will have many weapons to choose from in 2004 including the return of two-time leading goal scorer Lisa Grubb, who missed nearly all of the 2003 after suffering an injury in the season-opening game. The Buckeyes also return 2003 All-American and sophomore defender Melissa Miller and junior forward Colleen Hoban, OSU’s leading scorer with 24 points.

The Buckeyes are led by four-year defensive starter and 2003 Most Valuable Player and 2004 co-captain Erica Nollen. In 2003, Nollen led a defensive unit that gave up an OSU all-time low 17 goals and a 0.77 goals against average.

The team features 2003 Offensive Most Valuable Player Kathy Fulk on the frontline. Fulk was second on the team in scoring with five goals and four assists last season. Joining Fulk will be midfielder Emily Gilbert who will provide leadership as a second co-captain through her physical style.

Ohio State also possesses three standout goalkeepers in seniors Emily Haynam and Jen Heaney and sophomore Staci Sinkway. Haynam played in 15 games last year, posting a record of 5-2-2 and a GAA of 1.00, including two shutouts. Heaney averaged a 0.00 GAA in three games. Sinkway returns after a sensational freshman campaign. Sinkway burst into the Buckeye lineup with a 1-0 shutout of then-No.6 Virginia to help OSU to a program best 5-game win streak to start the season.

“This year we are the hunted,” Emily Gilbert said. “We have lots of experience and depth as well as great leadership, as long as we stay healthy, stay focussed and stay together we will extend our season past the second round of the NCAA tournament.”

No. 10 Ohio State played to a 1-1 tie with Oregon in its exhibition opener Tuesday at the Nike Campus southeast of Portland, Ore.

“I was very happy with our team’s performance and effort,” John Lipsitz, OSU assistant coach, said. “I had two goals I wanted to accomplish during the game. First, I wanted to see if we could handle playing a full game. Second I wanted to play 22 players in rotation. We accomplished both of these goals. After seeing this game and watching how we play against good competition I think we are where need to be and are ready to start the season.”

The Buckeyes got on the board early in the 13th minute on a goal by freshman midfielder Lara Dickenmann, when she redirected a Melissa Miller shot from eight yards to the left center of the net.

Ball possession would flip-flop between the teams for a majority of the contest until Oregon midfielder Cristan Higan converted a penalty kick just after the 80th minute of play.

At the end of the contest, the Buckeyes held an unofficial 9-8 shot edge, while goal keepers, Emily Haynam, Jen Heaney and Shannon Neely combined for six saves.

Lisa Grubb, playing in her first competitive match since suffering an injury, Aug. 29, 2003, led the Buckeyes in shots with three.

BUCKEYES RANKED AMONG NATIONAL BEST IN PRESEASON POLLS released its preseason polls Aug. 18, placing Ohio State at the No. 10 position in its national rankings, while rating the Buckeyes at No. 2 in the Great Lakes region. North Carolina is ranked No.1.

In the NSCAA/Addias poll the Buckeyes find themselves rated No. 25 nationally. Three other Big Ten squads join Ohio State in its Top 25, Penn State at No. 4, Illinois at No. 14 and Michigan at 20th. The NSCAA/Addias poll rated North Carolina No. 1.

Soccer America also has the Tarheels in the top spot, followed by Santa Clara and Notre Dame. Penn State joins Ohio State as the only Big Ten squads ranked by the publication. The Nittany Lions are ninth, ahead of the 18th-ranked Buckeyes.

“We see our ranking as a privilage to be amongst the top teams in the country,” Erica Nollen said. “At the same time it adds some pressure to our team to go out and perform like a Top 10 team every week.”

Ohio State will welcome its highest-rated recruiting class to the roster this season. Head coach Lori Walker announced the official signings of the seven-member group in February and has watched several soccer publications rank the class among the nation’s best. In July, Soccer America tabbed the signees at No. 7 in their overall rankings, while placed the Buckeyes at No. 9.

The class features the No. 1-ranked field player signing in the nation in Lara Dickenmann. A native of Kries, Switzerland, Dickenmann led her club team to the national championship in each of the last two seasons.

The Buckeyes also welcomed two top commitments from California in forwards Heather Young and Carleta Arbulu.

Young is a six-time member of the Southern California state team, a five-year member of the Region IV Olympic Development (ODP) team and competed for the USYS National All-Star Team in April 2003.

Arbulu is a five-year member of the Southern California state team and a four-year competitor on the Region IV ODP team.

In addition to an impressive out-of-region and international class, Walker added a trio of stellar Ohio products in Lindsay Mays, Keianna Mitchell and Heather Roberts, who all are veterans of the ODP system.

After finishing the 2003 season 18-3-2 under first-year head coach Garret Smith and being ousted in the third-round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, the 2002 National Champions Portland Pilots look to return to the College Cup finals this season.

No. 7 Portland welcomes the return of 2002 National Player of the Year Christine Sinclair back to the lineup after redshirting the 2003 season to take part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup with Canada. Sinclair will team up with junior All-American midfielder Lindsey Huie to lead the Pilot attack. Add to the mix one of the top recruiting classes in the nation (No. 8 Soccer America, No. 7 Soccer Buzz) and the loss of just four players from last year’s squad, and the Pilots have all the ingredients for their second national championship in three seasons.

Ohio State was defeated by the St. Mary’s (Calif.) Gaels, 3-1 in the California Invitational Sept. 1, 2002, at the University of California’s Edwards Stadium. Forward Lisa Grubb netted the first goal of the 2002 campaign for the Buckeyes in the 48th minute.

The Gaels took an early 1-0 lead at the 35:15 mark when Shauna Rech chipped an 18-yard shot over goal keeper Jen Heaney. Heaney registered four saves on the evening.

The Gaels would add another score to go up 2-0 at the 43rd minute. This time it was defender Jen Belzer who fired a shot from the left flank while falling down to tally the game-winner.

The Gaels would add one more score two minutes later to put away the Buckeyes, 3-1.

“We will be at our best and so will Portland,” Greg Miller, Ohio State assistant coach, said. “This team knows what it takes to win, they won the national championship two years ago. But I think the idea of playing a former national champion only adds motivation to our team. I know we will be ready and eager to get on the field.”

Led by reigning Pac-10 player of the year and First Team All-American selection senior Tina Frimpong, the Huskies will look to improve on an 11-7-3 season which included a first round loss to Nebraska in the 2003 NCAA tournament.

Frimpong, who netted 13 goals and four assists for 30 points, will be the anchor of an explosive husky offense. Joining Frimpong will be junior Kim Taylor who tallied five goals and four assists.

In goal for the Huskies is sophomore Kelly Rasmussen. Last season, Rasmussen posted a 3-1 record with 18 saves and a 0.55 GAA.

The head coach for the Huskies is Lesle Gallimore. Gallimore is entering her 11th year as head coach of the Huskies and has compiled a 113-74-13 record.

This will mark the second time Ohio State and Washington have faced off. The first meeting took place at the 2000 Nike Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the Huskies prevailing 3-1.

Ohio State lost to Washington, 3-1, Sept. 10, 2000 in the final game of the University of Michigan/NIKE Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Lindsay Eckles recorded the lone goal for Ohio State at the 10:50 mark off a pass from Michelle Besson.

Ohio State’s 1-0 lead was short lived. Washington scored three times in a span of 10 minutes. Washington’s Teresa Wagner headed a pass from teammate Caroline Putz past Ohio State goalkeeper Amber Barnes at 20:16 to tie the game at one. Moments later, at 22:51, Husky Tami Bennet placed the ball past Barnes from five yards out to give Washington a 2-1 lead.

The Huskies ended the scoring surge at 30:57 when freshman Melissa Bennet found the back of the net on a pass from Putz, her second assist on the day.

Three Buckeyes, Lisa Grubb, Melissa Miller and Staci Sinkway were named to the Big Ten’s weekly honor list. Grubb, netted Big Ten weekly honors, Aug. 31, 2003, after scoring two goals in 4-1 win over Indiana State.

Miller was honored Oct. 20, 2003 after helping the Buckeyes to a shutout win over Wisconsin, Oct. 17, 2003. Miller posted OSU’s lone goal in the 1-0 shutout.

Sinkway, was named Athlete of the Week, Oct. 8, 2003, after posting a shutout 1-0 against Oct. 5, 2003 and blanking Michigan for 73 minutes in a 1-1 tie Oct. 3, 2003.

After suffering a devastating, season-ending injury in the first game of 2003, Buckeye forward Lisa Grubb will look to start over and hence gain the form that brought her two team offensive MVP honors in 2001 and 2002. After a year of rehab, Grubb will be able to compete in 2004 and in doing so, will give the Buckeyes added fire power to an already explosive offense.

“Lisa is ready and willing to play again,” Walker said. “She is anxious to get back on the field. She adds a new dimension to this team with her team-chemistry and work ethic. Having her back will allow us to become a powerful offensive team.”

The Ohio State women’s soccer team participated in the eighth annual Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournament (KABC) April 4, 2004 in Germantown, Md. The Buckeyes set a record for the largest charitable collegiate contribution received by KABC with over $13,000, smashing the previous mark of $8,000. In its eight years, the event has raised over $275,000 for the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource and Image Center in Columbia, Md.

Lori Walker has been signed by NBC to cover the 2004 Olympic Games Aug. 13-29 in Athens, Greece. Walker, who served the last three seasons as an analyst for the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), will provide color commentary for women’s soccer.

Walker previously has worked with Comcast SportsNet in Maryland the last two years covering the Washington Freedom and in 2001 with Madison Square Garden (MSG) network announcing matches for the New York Power.

This season the Buckeyes will look to continue their success inside the confines of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in 2004.

In 2003, the Buckeyes enjoyed a decided advantage with a 7-1-2 record at JOMS.

The Buckeyes dominated the Jesse Owens Stadium scoreboard a year ago, holding a 21-5 advantage in goals, while controlling the corner kick department by an astounding 107-54 ledger. Included in the corner kick advantage were three contests – Youngstown State, Iowa and Minnesota – where the Buckeyes held their opponents to zero corner kick opportunities.

Ohio State will next take to the pitch at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2 against the Xavier Musketeers at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes will conlclude the weekend on the road vs. Louisville Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.