Aug. 26, 2011


The 2011 season gets underway this weekend as the No. 15 Ohio State men’s soccer team travels to the 15th annual Penn State Classic for matches against American and Siena on Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pa. The Buckeyes will take on the Eagles at 4:30 p.m. Saturday before facing the Saints at 3 p.m. Monday. Penn State will face Siena Friday and American Sunday in the second game of the tournament on both days. Admission to all games is free.

Eight starters and 16 overall letterwinners return to the roster from the NCAA third-round team that finished 11-6-3 overall and 4-2-0 to rank second in the Big Ten a year ago.

The Buckeyes are 26-23-9 all-time in season openers and 7-5-2 under head coach John Bluem. They have opened the year on the road just three times under the current coaching regime, going 0-3 in those contests, with the last loss coming in 2003 at Cal State Fullerton. All three losses were true road games and not neutral site contests.

This is the 10th-consecutive season Ohio State has played in the Penn State Classic. The Buckeyes have a 10-5-3 record over the last nine appearances there and have faced different opponents in all 18 contests. The Nittany Lions, who will be a part of the Wolstein Classic in Columbus next weekend, and Ohio State have played in each other’s early-season tournaments in each of the previous nine seasons.

Ohio State opens the year as the No. 15 team in the country, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll. There are five Big Ten teams in the Top 25 and six of the Buckeyes’ scheduled opponents for the upcoming season. The Scarlet and Gray also earned a nod at No. 15 by Soccer America, while coming in at No. 17 in the College Soccer News and Soccer Times preseason polls. The NSCAA poll will be acknowledged as the official ranking throughout the season.

Indiana enters the season as the conference favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll after winning its 12th Big Ten title in 2010. The Buckeyes, who finished second to Indiana a year ago and have had a Top 2 finish in four out of the last five years, are slated to match their final standing this year. Penn State follows at No. 3, jumping up a spot from last year’s fourth-place campaign. Michigan, after winning its first Big Ten Tournament title and advancing to last year’s NCAA College Cup semifinals, clocks in at No. 4. Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin round out the poll.

In addition to favorable predictions on the team’s finish, a trio of Buckeye players has received a number of projected accolades. Chris Hegngi, Matt Lampson and David Tiemstra all were named players to watch in the Big Ten, while both Lampson and Tiemstra have earned preseason All-America honors from various soccer publications. The pinnacle of individual college soccer honors, the MAC Hermann Trophy, has Lampson listed among the early candidate (see: below).

Junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson has been named the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list for the 2011 season, becoming just the second Buckeye to be considered for the national player of the year award in the program history (Eric Brunner, 2007). Lampson, a First Team All-Big Ten honoree in 2010, is one of 42 players on the preseason list and the only selection from the Big Ten, as well as one of three goalkeepers. The senior from Hilliard, Ohio, led the conference in goals-against average (0.72), save percentage (.857) and shutouts (10) as a sophomore last season. The Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in collegiate soccer with the recipient being selected by head coaches of NCAA Division I programs who are members of the NSCAA.

Seniors Jordan Lomnicki and David Tiemstra will serve as captains for the 2011 season. A freshman on the 2007 national runner-up squad, Lomnicki has played 42 career games that include seven NCAA Tournament contests. He redshirted the 2009 season after tearing his ACL but returned to his role as a utility defender last season. Tiemstra comes into 2011 having played in 60 career games, starting 59 of them as a central defender. He is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first team all-conference selection.

John Bluem enters his 15th season as head coach of the Buckeyes in 2011. He has collected a 150-101-38 (.585) record during that span and holds all eight of the program’s NCAA Tournament appearances and all five combined Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles to his credit. With six years at Fresno State also on his résumé, Bluem has a 236-128-50 career record, a win total which is No. 26 among active NCAA coaches and a percentage which stands at No. 31.

American returns eight starters from its 2010 Patriot League championship runner-up squad, including Alassane Kane, who led the conference in scoring a year ago and Matt Makowski, a three-year starter in goal and previous all-league selection. Head Coach Todd West is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eagles and will be seeking his 100th career victory this weekend.

Siena, who is picked to finish fourth in the MAAC this year, finished the 2010 season with a 10-8-1 overall record and a second-place conference finish at 7-2. Fourth-year head coach Gareth Elliott returns seven starters and 16 letterwinners from that squad, including junior Sindre Ek who was the team’s lone selection to the preseason all-conference team. He tallied four goals, including a hat trick vs. CCSU, and two assists in 2010.

Ohio State will appear at least three times on the Big Ten Network during the 2011 season, including two live broadcasts. The Buckeyes’ home game vs. Michigan (Sept. 25, 4 p.m.) and road contests at Michigan State (Oct. 2, noon) will be shown live on the national network, while their Indiana contest (Nov. 5, 1 p.m.) will be shown at a TBA time Nov. 6. This will bring the program’s number of appearances on BTN to 17 since its inception in 2007.

No. 15 Ohio State played 19th-ranked Denver to 1-1 draw last Sunday in exhibition play at the ShindigZ National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind., to end the preseason slate 0-0-2 after an identical result vs. Wright State Aug. 17. Chris Hegngi tallied the lone goal vs. Denver on a PK, while rookie Kenny Cunningham found the back of the net vs. Wright State.

The Buckeyes open their home campaign with the sixth annual Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic Sept. 2 and 4 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Penn State and Stetson start off tourney action at 5 p.m. Sept. 2, followed by the Buckeyes vs. FIU at approximately 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Nittany Lions and FIU meet at 11 a.m. before Ohio State and Stetson close it out at 1:30 p.m. Admission to all Wolstein Classic games, and home regular-season games throughout the season, is free.