Aug. 30, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a successful start to the season at home last weekend, the 20th-ranked Ohio State men’s soccer team will spend the next two weeks on the road, beginning this weekend with the Carolina Nike Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Buckeyes (1-0-1) will face No. 5 North Carolina (2-0-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and No. 16 Wake Forest (2-0-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

GameTracker will have both games live at

UNC is ranked as high as No. 1 in the various national polls, while Wake Forest is ranked as high as No. 11. No. 13 Penn State, the defending Big Ten champion, rounds out the field for the Classic, which will be played at UNC’s Fetzer Field (5.025).

Ohio State won The Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic last weekend in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, tying Hartwick 0-0 and topping Furman, 2-0. On Friday, Furman beat Penn State, 2-0.

Although their two exhibition matches do not count, the Buckeyes are now 2-0-2 against collegiate competition this fall. With 17 returning letterwinners and eight starters back, OSU was picked third in the Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll and is aiming for its third-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament in November.

The Buckeyes, which typically field one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, have yet to allow a goal this season. At the same time, OSU owns a 41-28 shot advantage and has committed fewer fouls (31-33). Including its two exhibition games, Ohio State holds a 5-1 goal advantage and an 88-46 shot advantage. The Buckeyes were 11-8-2 overall last year and finished second in the Big Ten regular season standings at 3-2-1. Ohio State then made its second-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, falling at No. 18 Santa Clara, 1-0.

The Buckeyes return 10 of their Top 12 scorers from last season and have two All-Big Ten selections back, including defender Dustin Kirby and midfielder Brent Rohrer. Led by Kirby, OSU returns two other starters in the defense (Jim Fisher and Eric Brunner) and, led by Rohrer, all four starters in the midfield (Taylor Korpieski, Geoff Marsh and Ryan Kustos).

Junior Xavier Balc is Ohio State’s leading scorer through two games with a goal and an assist. After a five-goal, eight-assist season last year, he figures to take over for 2005 leading scorer Kevin Nugent (20 points). Also having graduated are goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. and defender Kyle Veris, both third-round MLS draft picks.

Junior Casey Latchem has taken over the goalkeeping duties and has yet to allow a goal in 200 minutes. Sophomore Tim Gabel, who scored his first collegiate goal in the win over Furman, has taken over as the left-sided back, while Brunner has moved in centrally to replace Veris.

Ohio State has gone to the NCAA tournament four of the last six seasons, won a Big Ten title (2000) and a league regular-season co-championship (2004) and has produced six MLS draft picks.

In its newly named early season tournament, Ohio State went 1-0-1 last weekend to win The Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic, named in honor of the individuals who first brought professional soccer to Ohio in 1979.

In the opener, the Buckeyes dominated Hartwick, outshooting them 26-6 and forcing the Hawks into 21 fouls, but OSU was unable to find the back of the net and settled for a 0-0 tie. Thanks to Furman’s 2-0 win over Penn State, the OSU-Furman match Sunday proved to be the Classic’s championship game and the Buckeyes defended their home turf, winning 2-0.

On Monday, senior defender and co-captain Dustin Kirby was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for his efforts in leading the Buckeyes to the title of OSU’s Wolstein Classic. Kirby was named MVP of the Classic and helped guide the Buckeyes to two shutouts. The two honors are the first for Kirby, who is a four-year starter in the central defense and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

North Carolina (2-0-0), with 14 trips to the NCAA tournament on its resume, returns 10 starters this season from its 2005 squad that went 17-4-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Head coach Elmar Bolowich, in his 18th season, has compared his 2006 squad, with its seven seniors, to his 2001 team that won UNC’s first national championship. The Tar Heels shut out a school-record 15 opponents last year.

Like North Carolina, ACC power Wake Forest (2-0-0) also returns 10 starters from its squad that went to the Sweet 16 last fall. Head coach Jay Vidovich, who is in his 13th season and is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University in nearby Delaware, Ohio, still has six starters who helped the Demon Deacons win the 2004 ACC title and carry the No. 1 seed into the NCAA tournament. The lone starter gone from last year leaves big shoes to fill, however, in All-American forward Justin Moose, who was a first-round pick MLS draft pick last January.

Penn State (1-1-0), which went undefeated and untied in Big Ten play last year and won its third Big Ten title, returns nine starters for 19th-year head coach Barry Gorman. The Nittany Lions return four All-Big Ten selections in forward Simon Omekanda, goalkeeper Conrad Taylor, defender Markku Viitanen and forward Jason Yeisley.

The four-team Classic field is identical to that of the 2004 Ohio State Classic, which Wake Forest won with a 1-0-1 record. In that event, the Demon Deacons topped Ohio State 2-0 and North Carolina beat OSU, 2-1. Penn State tied both teams.

Other than the meeting in Columbus in 2004, Ohio State has met North Carolina only once, that coming in Chapel Hill in 1993, a 4-1 Tar Heel win. In 2004, OSU’s goal against UNC came on a Xavier Balc penalty kick.

The Buckeyes and Wake Forest met two previous times to their 2004 encounter, with the Demon Deacons winning 2-1 at Wake Forest in 1988 and shutting out OSU, 2-0, in Columbus in 1981.

Ohio State freshman Andrew Magill and North Carolina freshman Eric Lichaj are both from Downers Grove, Ill. Magill attended North H.S., Lichaj went to Edison Academy. OSU freshman Benjamin Frasher (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) and sophomore Danny Irizarry (Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) played club soccer with UNC’s Cameron Lewis (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee). Irizarry played ODP soccer with Wake Forest sophomores Sam Cronin (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Cline Beam (Augusta, Ga.). Wake Forest freshman goalkeeper Austin Chelko is a native of Bay Village, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Five Buckeyes are also from the northeast Ohio area.

Coming off back-to-back seasons when Ohio State finished tied for first in the Big Ten (2004) and second (2005), OSU was picked third in the 2006 Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll. Seven-time national champion Indiana was selected first, while defending Big Ten champ Penn State was second. The seven teams, in order, include: 1. Indiana, 2. Penn State, 3. Ohio State, 4. Wisconsin, 5. Michigan State, 6. Michigan, 7. Northwestern.

Head coach John Bluem has guided the Buckeyes to 10 or more wins in seven of his nine seasons at OSU and to all four of the program’s NCAA tournament appearances. His 2004 squad topped No. 11 Memphis and No. 9 Notre Dame in the postseason to advance to the `Sweet 16.’ Bluem owns a record of 91-70-21 (.556) at Ohio State. His win total and win percentage are school records. Overall, his career record stands at 177-97-33 (.630), which includes six seasons at Fresno State. His winning percentage is ranked No. 29 among all active coaches.

Considering Ohio State annually boasts one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, it was no surprise when a pair of defenders were announced as the Buckeyes’ 2006 co-captains last week. Seniors Jim Fisher and Dustin Kirby were selected by their teammates during preseason camp and will wear the captains’ bands this season. Fisher has started 36 consecutive matches, while Kirby has started all but one match (61) since his arrival at OSU. Both are Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

On their way to an 11-8-2 season, the Buckeyes statistically outperformed their opponents in nearly every category. OSU outshot its opponent in 17 of 21 games and 279-198 for the season. The shots on-goal advantage was 120-87. The Buckeyes also led in corner kicks, 109-82. When Ohio State scored first, the team was a perfect 10-0-0. Overall, the Buckeyes were outscored 10-5 in the first half during the season and led at halftime only twice, but they outscored the opposition 17-12 in the second half. Eight of OSU’s games went into overtime, where the Buckeyes were 3-3-2.

Among active players, junior Xavier Balc appears in the OSU career record book twice. He ranks seventh in career assists (13) and fifth in career shots (107). See page 54-55 in the media guide for complete records.

In preparation for the 2006 season, Ohio State went on a 10-day trip to Germany in June, where the Buckeyes won all three of their exhibition matches with a +13 goal differential. The travel party also attended three World Cup matches and went on numerous sight-seeing and team-building excursions.

Seniors Brent Rohrer and Dustin Kirby were second-team All-Big Ten picks last year, while Taylor Korpieski received the same honor as a sophomore in 2004 before injuries cut short his junior season. Junior Xavier Balc was a third-team all-region selection last year. Three current Buckeyes have been named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team in their careers, including Korpieski, Balc and sophomore Danny Irizarry.

Ohio State owns a 38-16-10 (.671) record in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium since the facility opened for the 1999 season. The Buckeyes will play host to the 2006 Big Ten Championship there Nov. 2-5. OSU was 4-3-1 at JOMS last season. OSU’s best season at JOMS was in 2002 with a 7-1-1 record and facility-best six-game winning streak. The JOMS attendance record is 2,081 vs. Indiana, Oct. 24, 2004.

Six Buckeyes have been Major League Soccer draft picks since 2003. Last January in the third round, defender Kyle Veris was taken at No. 25 overall by the L.A. Galaxy and goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. was selected at No. 30 by F.C. Dallas and was the first goalkeeper picked. In the 2003 draft, forward Andy Rosenband and defender Jake Traeger (brother of current Buckeye Steven Traeger) were taken in the seventh round, while in 2005 forward Justin Cook and midfielder Sammy Tamporello were taken in the supplemental draft.

Individual Player Notes

#27 Ayodele Adedapo, fr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): Did not play in the first 2 regular-season games … started the exhibition match vs. Dayton … played last 11 min. vs. Bradley … Career highlights: athletic and strong … 2005 Mid-State League Player of the Year and 3rd-team All-Ohio … led Bexley to 2005 Div. II state title … 24 goals and 18 assists as a senior in 23 games.

#3 Xavier Balc, jr., Fwd. (1 g., 1 a.): Responsible for OSU’s last 10 goals dating back to 2005 … team leader in points (3) and shots (8) … scored game-winner vs. Furman and assisted on OSU’s 2nd goal (corner kick) … OSU Wolstein Classic all-tournament team Aug. 27 … took match-high 7 shots vs. Bradley and assisted on the game-winning goal by Kustos (corner kick) … Career highlights: perhaps OSU’s most talented athlete … owns 9 career goals and 13 assists in 2+ seasons … has played in the midfield and up top in his career but has settled into a forward spot … one of OSU’s go-to players for PKs and corner kicks in part because of his great left foot … led team in assists last season with 8, which tied for 2nd-most in a single-season at OSU … was responsible for OSU’s final 8 goals of the season in 2005, either by goal, assist or free kick resulting in an own goal … 4 of his goals came in Big Ten play, which tied for most on the conference … had at least one point in 9 games and OSU went 8-0-1 in those games.

#23 Eric Brunner, jr., Def. (0 g., 1 a.): Has played all 200 min. thus far … assisted on 2nd goal vs. Furman … OSU Wolstein Classic all-tournament team Aug. 27 … assisted on the game-winning goal by Ryan Kustos in the exh. vs. Bradley … Career highlights: started all 21 games last season … one of OSU’s most talented players … in his 2nd year as a starter in 2006 … played his frosh season at Maryland, helped Terrapins to the College Cup … transferred home to OSU during the winter of his fr. year and competed in the 2005 spring season … tall, powerful defender and comes forward to get involved in the offense … great in the air, especially on restarts.

#19 Eric Edwards, jr., Fwd. (0 g., 0 a.): 2nd on team in shots (5) … has started both regular-season games at FWD … took 8 shots in the exhibition match vs. Dayton, including 2 on goal … Career highlights: Spent his fr. year at defender but moved to FWD as a soph., where he spent his prep career … scored OSU’s goal in a 1-1 tie against the Columbus Crew last April … strong, tough competitor that has a great work ethic.

#25 Jim Fisher, 5th-sr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 2006 co-captain … started both regular-season games, totaled184 min. … Career highlights: has started 38 consecutive games at right back, including the last 15 games 2004 and all 21 games of 2005 … owns 3 career assists, including 2 last season (vs. Coastal Car., at Wisc.) … key ingredient in OSU’s 2004 defense that allowed only 2 goals in Big Ten play … 2 of his 3 career assists set up the first goal of a hat trick (Justin Cook at Penn St. in 2004, Xavier Balc vs. Coastal Car. in 2005).

#12 Benjamin Frasher, fr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Currently out because of a leg injury. Career highlights: member of the Georgia Olympic Development Program from 2001-05 … played club soccer with OSU’s Danny Irizarry.

#18 Tim Gabel, so., Def. (1 g., 0 a.): Scored OSU’s 2nd goal in 2-0 win over Furman Aug. 27, was his first collegiate goal (header off Balc corner kick) … has played all but 2 min. (out of 200) of the regular-season … Career highlights: solid contributor in 2005 before an injury cut his fr. season short … great size and soccer resume … won national club championship with Scott Gallagher … tall, physical player, good in the air.

#13 Antonio Garcia, sr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Started vs. Furman (42 min.) … missed Hartwick game with injury … scored OSU’s 2nd goal (unassisted) in the exh. vs. Bradley … missed the Dayton exh. match because of injury … Career highlights: singled out by Coach Bluem as having the most soccer savvy and experience on team … adds spark to OSU midfield … played in all 21 games last season, made 6 starts … fearless, aggressive player, both with the ball or in defensive situations … calm on the ball, has great control, even in traffic … if not a starter is one of the 1st players off the bench.

#8 Danny Irizarry, so., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Played in both regular-season games (59 min.) … missed the 2 exh. matches because of injury … Career highlights: scored 2 goals and had 4 assists as a fr. … named to Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2005 … one of OSU’s best offensive playmakers in midfield but is also a defensive force, tenacious tackler … only got better as his fr. season went on and played his way into the starting lineup permanently … played in 19 games and made 13 starts as a fr., including the final 8 consecutive matches.

#7 Dustin Kirby, sr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 2006 co-captain … Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Aug. 28 … MVP of OSU’s Wolstein Classic Aug. 25-27 … College Soccer News National Team of the Week Aug. 28 … has played all 200 min. of regular-season … Career highlights: 2005 2nd-team All-Big Ten … started every game but 1 since his arrival at OSU (63) … holds things together in the back for OSU … rarely comes off field (5,700 minutes played out of 6,016 possible in career) … plays a central defensive spot.

#10 Taylor Korpieski, sr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Started both regular-season games thus far … red card vs. Furman will cause him to miss UNC game … 4 shots … had 5 shots in 83 min. in exh. vs. Bradley … Career highlights: 2nd-team All-Big Ten as a soph. when he had 4 goals and 8 assists (2nd-most in a season at OSU) … was hampered by injuries as a jr. … OSU’s best playmaker in the midfield (wears No. 10 for a reason), controls tempo of the game … OSU’s leading scorer as a fr. in 2003.

#17 Ryan Kustos, jr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): 1 start, 85 min. in first 2 games … 4 shots … came off bench to score game-winner vs. Bradley in exh. Aug. 18 … took 6 shots (3 on goal) in exh. vs. Dayton … Career highlights: speed, quickness with power – combination has put him into the OSU lineup at both FWD, MID … played in 42 games as a Buckeye and made 20 starts … 6 goals, 4 assists … played in all 21 games last season, 15 starts.

#1 Casey Latchem, jr., GK (0.00 GAA, 12 Saves, 0 GA, 200 min.): 0.00 GAA says it all … career-high 10 saves in win over Furman … played all 200 minutes of season … OSU Wolstein Classic all-tournament team … exh. totals include 180 min., 1 GA, 1 save … Career highlights: understudy to Ray Burse Jr. last 2 years, will take over GK duties full time in 2006 … smooth transition is expected – coaches and team have great confidence in him … smart player, good distributor … started 7 games as fr. in 2004, 4 against nationally ranked opp. … 1.12 GAA as a soph. and 1.64 GAA as a fr.

#14 Andrew Magill, fr., Fwd. (0 g., 0 a.): Came off bench in both games (98 min.), 2 shots … scored in exh. vs. Dayton (collected rebound off Purpero’s shot) … started vs. Bradley (41 min., 0 shot) … Career highlights: scored 61 goals in his prep career, including 34 as a senior … added 33 career assists, 16 as a senior … all-state and All-Midwest.

#28 Corey March, fr., GK: 0 min. thus far … Career highlights: 272 saves in H.S. … had 131 saves and scored 2 goals as a sr. … as a jr. had 115 saves and one goal and helped lead his team to sectional and district titles.

#11 Scott Marguglio, so., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 0 min. thus far … Career highlights: left-footed, athletic … ability to serve the ball accurately, good defensive ability … 7 games as fr. in a back-up role … assisted on Geoff Marsh’s goal to give OSU a 3-0 lead at Louisville 10/12/06.

#9 Geoff Marsh, so., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Right-sided MID starter … 150 min. (out of 200) thus far in regular-season … 2 shots … started both exh. matches (79 min. vs. Dayton, 63 min. vs. Bradley) … Career highlights: a bright spot in OSU’s 2005 fr. class … shared 2006 Most Improved Player Award with Danny Irizarry … only frosh. to play in all 21 games … ranked 4th on team in scoring (2 goals and 2 assists).

#24 Byron Neal, r-fr., GK: Back-up keeper … 0 min. thus far … Career highlights: played at Wisconsin last year, transferred to OSU for spring practice … 4 years of eligibility remaining.

#26 Luke Purpero, fr., Fwd. (0 g., 0 a.): Played in first 2 regular-season games (23 min.) … set up OSU’s goal vs. Dayton with a drive into the box, where UD’s keeper blocked, Magill scored off rebound … Career highlights: left-footed speedster … all-time goals scored (156) and points (349) leader in Ohio HS history … all-region team 3 times … 1st-team All-Ohio selection as a soph., jr. and sr. … state-record 53 goals as a sr.

#16 Kyle Retzlaff, jr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): 0 min. in regular-season … played 7 min vs. Bradley, 29 min. vs. Dayton … Career highlights: gets up and down the field well and has good quickness … aggressive and plays with a high motor … has a good left foot.

#4 Patrick Roan, so., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 0 min. thus far … Career highlights: played in 3 games as a frosh. … played in two H.S. state title games … strong, athletic and versatile and could play in defense or in the midfield.

#5 Brent Rohrer, sr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): OSU’s starting defensive midfielder … 88 min. in 2 regular-season games … Career highlights: 2nd-team All-Big Ten as a jr. … played in all 63 games for OSU since his arrival … in 4th year as starter … started at both DEF and MID during his career, but has settled into the central midfield … OSU’s best marker of an opponent … owns 2 goals and 4 assists in his career.

#6 Rob Strachan, sr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): Returned to field vs. Furman Sun. after missing end of last season and beginning of 2006 with leg injury … Career highlights: if not in the starting lineup, is one of the 1st players off bench … aiming to return to full strength after missing final 7 games of jr. season because of injury … played in 1st 14 games of 2005 (10 starts) before being sidelined by a leg injury, required surgery … started 1st 3 games at DEF before moving into MID.

#21 Adam Tenhundfeld, fr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 0 min. in regular-season thus far … 11 min. in exh. vs. Bradley … Career highlights: high on coaches’ list of potential impact newcomers … led Lakota West to district final as a senior (captain, defensive MVP) … team was district and regional champs his sophomore and junior seasons … helped Firebirds shut out 14 opponents his junior season, which ranked among the Top 10 best seasons in OHSAA history.

#20 Steven Traeger, jr., Mid. (0 g., 0 a.): 0 min. in regular-season thus far … 7 min. in exh. vs. Bradley, 36 min. vs. Dayton … Career highlights: played 2 seasons at UNC-Charlotte, transfers to OSU with 2 years of eligibility remaining … played in 37 games, totaled 5 goals, 2 assists for UNCC … is 4th member of his family to play for OSU, including 2 brothers and a sister.

#15 Doug Verhoff, fr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): Started season opener vs. Hartwick (91 min.) … 64 min. vs. Furman … 71 min. in exh. vs. Bradley … started 2nd half vs. Dayton (45 min.) … Career highlights: scored 55 goals and had 29 assists in prep career … 1st-team All-Central Catholic League all 4 years … started every game in H.S. except 2 (senior nights his fr. and soph. years) … Central District player of the year as a sr., 1st-team All-Ohio … 2nd-team all-state as jr.

#2 Kyle West, fr., Def. (0 g., 0 a.): 64 min. in regular-season thus far … started at MID in exh. vs. Dayton (54 min.) … 48 min. in exh. vs. Bradley … Career highlights: composed, passes ball well, strong ball winner … led club team to state cup championships in 2003-04-05 … member of Nebraska ODP from 2002-05 … made Region II ODP squad in 2005.

### GO BUCKS! ###