Nov. 1, 2006

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fifth-ranked Ohio State field hockey team (14-2, 5-1 Big Ten) travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2006 Big Ten Tournament Nov. 3-5 at Phyllis Ocker Field. The Buckeyes earned their second Big Ten regular-season championship and first outright conference title to receive to No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the event.

Ohio State will play in the first semifinal game Saturday at 11 a.m. The Buckeyes face the winner of the first-round game between No. 4-seed Michigan and No. 5-seed Iowa. The Wolverines and Hawkeyes meet at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Buckeyes Big Ten Champs
The Buckeyes defeated Michigan State by a score of 4-3 in double-overtime Oct. 28 to claim at least a share of the 2006 Big Ten Championship. Ohio State then took sole possession of the title with a 1-0 Indiana victory over Penn State Sunday. With the championship, the Buckeyes earned the program’s first No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

The 2006 title is the first outright Big Ten championship in Ohio State field hockey history. The Buckeyes tied with Michigan for the title in 2001. That year, the Wolverines had the tiebreaker over OSU to take the top seed.

Seeds and Schedule
The other seedings in the Big Ten tournament are as follows: No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Northwestern and No. 7 Michigan State.

Three first-round games will be played Friday. Indiana faces MSU at 10 a.m., followed by Michigan and Iowa at 12:30 p.m. and PSU and Northwestern at 3 p.m. The Buckeyes play in the first semifinal game Saturday at 11 a.m., with the second semifinal (Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner) taking place at 1 p.m.

The championship game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. That game will be shown on tape-delay on CSTV Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament
The Buckeyes have a 13-11 record in the 12 years of the Big Ten tournament. With the first-round bye this year, Ohio State will continue its run of appearing in every semifinal round of the event. Last season, No. 3-seed OSU defeated Michigan State to advance to the semifinal game, but fell to No. 2 Indiana, 3-1. The Buckeyes have only appeared in the championship game one time, when they won the title in 2001. That year, they defeated Iowa, 2-1, in the championship game.

One for the Books
Along with its first-ever outright Big Ten championship and No. 1 seed, Ohio State has compiled one of its best seasons in the 31-year history of the program. With a 14-2 record, the Buckeyes have their highest winning percentage ever at .875. The current season record is .786 held by the 1973 team that finished 11-2-1. OSU has also scored 63 goals this season, seven shy of tying their record of 70 set just a year ago.

Last Time Out: Michigan State
Ohio State defeated Michigan State, 4-3, in double overtime Oct. 28 at North Turf Field in its final regular-season game to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship. Senior Saskia Mueller scored the game-winning goal 4:22 into the second overtime session.

With just 1:37 remaining in regulation, Michigan State tied the game at 3-all when Becky Manning knocked in a loose ball to send the game into overtime. Ohio State controlled the ball for the majority of the first overtime, outshooting the Spartans 4-0, but was unable to score. The Buckeyes continued to hold the ball in the second overtime and were able to capitalize on a penalty corner to set up the offense. While passing the ball around the circle, sophomore Linda Haussener, on the right side of the cage, set up Mueller who tapped it in from the left corner for the win.

For the game, Ohio State had a 21-5 advantage in shots, including a 6-0 margin in the two overtimes. The Buckeyes held Michigan State to just one penalty corner while totaling 10. Ohio State has held its last three opponents to just one penalty corner in each game.

Mueller Earns 4th Big Ten P.O.W. Nod
Senior midfielder Saskia Mueller was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award, the conference announced Monday. She earned player of the week honors three times in the month of October and four times overall this season.

Mueller scored the game-winning double-overtime goal against Michigan State Oct. 28 to clinch the Big Ten regular-season title for Ohio State. The goal in the 89th minute was her second overtime gamewinner and third game-winning goal overall on the year. It also increased her season goal total to nine, tying her career high. Mueller also set up the third Buckeye goal to record her team-leading 14th assist. It increased her career assist total to 45, second most all-time at OSU. She is tied for second on the team with 32 points.

Filling the Shelves
The Buckeyes have totaled nine Big Ten player of the week awards this season. Along with her player of the week selection Oct. 30, Saskia Mueller also was named offensive player of the week Aug. 28 and Oct. 16, and defensive player of the week Oct. 9. Junior midfielder Yesenia Luces received three player of the week selections, sophomore forward Linda Haussener was offensive player of the week once and freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Quintiliani was named defensive player of the week once.

Ohio State vs. Michigan
If the Buckeyes face Michigan in the semifinal game Saturday, it will be the 54th meeting all-time. The Wolverines lead the series 31-20-2, although Ohio State has won the last two meetings, including a 3-2 overtime victory Oct. 22. It was the first time since 1996 the Buckeyes left Ann Arbor with a win.

In the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes have faced Michigan more than any other team. OSU is 3-5 vs. the Wolverines in league postseason action. The last time they met in the event was a semifinal game in 2004 (UM won 5-0).

Buckeyes vs. Hawkeyes
If Ohio State faces Iowa in the semifinal game Saturday, it will be the 49th meeting all-time. The Buckeyes have won the last two meetings, including a 4-3 overtime win Sept. 24 to open the Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes hold a 37-11 record in the series.

In Big Ten tournament action, OSU and Iowa are even at 2-2. The two have not met in the event since 2002 when the Buckeyes topped the Hawkeyes, 2-0, in the first round.

Home Field Advantage
Ohio State had just six home games this season, but took full advantage of the games in Columbus with a perfect 6-0 record. In the games at North Turf Field, the Buckeyes outscored its opponents 31-8 for an average of 4.88 goals to 1.26. Ohio State also outshot its opponents 118-44 for an average of 19.7 shots to 7.3. The Buckeyes had a 52-24 advantage in penalty corners as well.

Luces Nears Milestone
Junior Yesenia Luces is nearing the 100-career point mark with 92 points. Now in her third season, she has totaled 31 goals and 30 assists. Her 92 points currently rank eighth all-time. Luces would be just the sixth Buckeye to pass the 100-point mark. Sue Marcellus (1976-79) holds the career record with 254 points. Luces has led the Buckeyes is scoring the last two seasons with 33 points in 2006 and 44 in 2005. She had 15 as a freshman.

Mueller Assisting her Way into the Record Books
Senior midfielder Saskia Mueller has 14 assists this season, moving her up to second all-time in the Ohio State record books with 45 career assists. The record of 64 assists is held by Mieke van Ulden (1994-97). Last season, Mueller totaled 19 assists to lead the nation and tie for second in the OSU single-season records.

Lock Down Mode
The Ohio State defense has shut down opponents all season, but has been particularly stingy recently. The Buckeyes have allowed just one penalty corner apiece to their last three opponents. For the season, OSU has held teams to under five penalty corners nine times and has limited teams to an average of 4.25 penalty corners per game.

In shots, the Buckeyes have held its last four opponents to eight shots or fewer. Ohio State has allowed 10 or more shots just five times this season and opponents average just 8.38 shots per game.

Team Effort
Three Buckeyes have scored over 30 points through 16 games – Linda Haussener, Yesenia Luces and Saskia Mueller. Luces leads the team with 33 points, followed by Haussener and Mueller tied for second with 32 apiece. Junior Michaela O’Malley (22 pts.) and seniors Lauren Kruse (19) and Curlyne Wynn (19) also have tallied double-digit points. A total of eight Buckeyes have scored a goal this season while 10 have notched a point.

Double Up
Six Buckeyes have scored multiple goals in a game this season and four have recorded multiple-assist games. Juniors Michaela O’Malley and Yesenia Luces and sophomore Linda Haussener lead the team with three multiple-goal games apiece. Saskia Mueller, Curlyne Wynn and Lauren Kruse have each recorded one.

Mueller leads OSU with four multiple-assist games, followed by Haussener and Luces with two each and Wynn with one.

Tough Schedule
The Michigan game Oct. 22 was the seventh OSU opponent ranked in the Top 20 at the time. Earlier this season, the Buckeyes faced four-consecutive opponents ranked in the Top 12 at the time of the game. OSU defeated both the No. 12 Louisville (Oct. 11) and No. 8 Penn State (Oct. 8) by scores of 4-3 in overtime. The Buckeyes fell to No. 2 Wake Forest, 1-0 (Oct. 6) and No. 12 Indiana, 2-1 (Oct. 1).

Along with the defeat of Michigan, the Buckeyes have won two other games against opponents nationally ranked. OSU topped then-No. 20 Iowa, 4-3 (Sept. 24) and opened the season with a 4-2 win at then-No. 11 Boston College (Aug. 26).

Buckeyes Set Record for Best Start
This season, the Buckeyes set the record for the best start in program history after beginning the year with eight consecutive wins. OSU surpassed its previous best start of 7-0 set in 1999. Five of the eight wins were on the road, including a 4-2 season-opening win at then-No. 11 Boston College.

Experienced Travelers
The Buckeyes played the majority of their games on the road in 2006. Ten of OSU’s 16 games, or 63 percent, were away from North Turf Field. Ohio State played in three home games in September (Pacific, Miami and Ball State) and three in October (Penn State, Northwestern and Michigan State).

In the Polls
Ohio State remained at No. 5 in the latest STX/NFHCA poll released Oct. 31. After starting the year at No. 15 in the preseason poll, OSU has been ranked in the Top 7 throughout the regular season. Fifth palce is the highest the Buckeyes have been ranked since the 2001 season when they won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.

Ranking ahead of the Buckeyes are No. 1 Maryland (18-1), No. 2 Wake Forest (17-1), No. 3 Old Dominion (18-2) and No. 4 Duke (14-4).

Six of Ohio State’s 2006 opponents are currently ranked in the poll, including No. 7 Boston College, who the Buckeyes defeated to open the season. Also ranked from the Big Ten are No. 6 Penn State, No. 12 Indiana and No. 15 Michigan.

Up Next
The 2006 NCAA Tournament field will be announced Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. A selection show will be broadcast on CSTV beginning at that time.