Aug. 18, 2005

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The 18th-ranked Ohio State men’s soccer team opens the 2005 season Sunday at Dayton with the first of two preseason exhibition matches on the schedule. The Buckeyes reported for camp Tuesday, the same day the NSCAA/adidas preseason national poll was released with OSU in the No. 18 spot, which tied the program’s best preseason ranking. The 2001 team also was ranked 18th in the preseason poll.

Head coach John Bluem, now in his ninth season, returns 17 letterwinners, including eight starters, along with six newcomers, including Maryland transfer Eric Brunner. Ohio State also made two new additions to the coaching staff, adding former Buckeyes Jon Lowery and Eric Schwebach. Lowery replaces Brian Johnson as the new assistant coach and Schwebach came on board as a volunteer assistant.

Another challenging schedule awaits Ohio State this fall, as the Buckeyes aim to build on last season’s Big Ten regular-season co-championship and Round of 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament. The schedule includes 18 regular-season matches followed by the Big Ten tournament and what the Buckeyes are aiming to be their fourth trip to the NCAA tournament in the last six years.

For their effort in 2004, the NSCAA ranked the Buckeyes No. 18 in the NSCAA/adidas pre-season poll, tying a program best pre-season ranking (2001). Four of Ohio State’s opponents this season are ranked in the Top 25 poll, including No. 1 Indiana.

Dayton finished the 2004 season 11-7-1 overall and 8-3-0 in the Atlantic 10. The Flyers return 20 letterwinners from last year, including eight starters. Dennis Currier is serving his first season at the helm of the Flyers. This is also the first match of the season for Dayton.

Three Buckeye seniors spent their summer competing on Premier Development League teams. Goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. led the Chicago Fire Premier to a 15-1-2 overall record and a berth in the PDL playoffs. Defender Kyle Veris and the Mid-Michigan Bucks fashioned a 14-5-1 record and went two round deep in the playoffs, while forward Kevin Nugent and the Cleveland Internationals went 5-8-3.

Ohio State hosted 11th-ranked Memphis Nov. 19 in the first round of the NCAA tournament and handed the Tigers a 1-0 loss. Kevin Nugent’s goal in the 28th minute would prove to be the game-winner as the OSU defense, led by goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr., posted the shutout.

On the road four days later at ninth-ranked and fifth-seeded Notre Dame, the Buckeyes got an early goal from Justin Cook in the fourth minute and then the game-winner from Ryan Kustos in the 76th minute to knock off the Fighting Irish. Burse had four saves and the assist on Cook’s goal. Five days later at Duke, Ohio State’s season came to an end with a 3-0 loss to the Blue Devils, who would go on to beat Virginia to advance to the College Cup. A record six Big Ten teams were selected for the NCAA tournament.

In Big Ten games only, Ohio State finished the 2004 regular season with the top-ranked offense and defense in the conference. The Buckeyes ranked first in goals scored per game (1.67) and fewest goals allowed per game (0.33). Ohio State allowed just two goals in conference play, including one to Indiana and one to Northwestern. In all games, Ohio State ranked fourth in the league in scoring (1.82 gpg) and third in fewest goals allowed (1.12 gapg).

Individually in Big Ten games only, 2004 senior forward Justin Cook finished as the top scorer in the league, ending the regular season with six goals and one assist for 13 points. Then-junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. finished as the Big Ten’s best as his position, as well, owning the best goals-against average at 0.33 and also ranking first in shutouts (4), while ranking fourth in saves per game (4.17 spg).

John Bluem won his school-record 73rd career game Oct. 17, 2004 as the Buckeyes shut out Penn State, 3-0. The victory moved Bluem past Al Bianco (1979-86) and Gary Avedikian (1987-96), who both had 72 wins in their tenures.

“We have had some great players at Ohio State and it’s an honor to hold that record at such a great institution,” Bluem said. “I have had the good fortune to work in a fully funded program and with great facilities. Ohio State has great tradition in soccer and has had some great coaches and to be at the top of that list is quite an honor.”

Following the Dayton exhibition, Ohio State will return to two-a-day training sessions on campus before hosting Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. Fri., Aug. 26, in Columbus Crew Stadium.

### GO BUCKS! ###