Jan. 22, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s soccer team celebrated a season of firsts Friday night at the annual team awards banquet held in the Huntington Club at Ohio Stadium. The 2004 season saw the Buckeyes win a share of the Big Ten regular season championship and advance to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament – both firsts for Ohio State. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 16 in the last NSCAA/adidas regular season poll, the highest final season ranking for OSU in program history.

Head coach John Bluem, the 2004 Big Ten Coach of the Year and Ohio State’s all-time wins leader, handed out individual awards to three players and recognized several others for their honors during the season.

“After the season we had in 2003, to respond the way did was a great achievement,” Bluem said. “And when we started this season 3-4-1, we told the players they were a special group and to stick with it. We finished the season 9-3-1 from that point on and what we accomplished, with the Big Ten championship and Sweet 16 was a great accomplishment.”

During the banquet there were several moments taken to remember Connor Senn, who would have received his senior award Friday night had it not been for his tragic death from a congenital heart defect in a game during his freshman season in 2001.

Senior Justin Cook (Winter Springs, Fla./Oviedo) was honored as Ohio State’s 2004 Most Valuable Player. He was named the 2004 Big Ten Player of the Year and a third-team All-American after leading the Big Ten in scoring in league games. Cook’s 33 career goals are second all-time at OSU and his 17 career assists tied the school record.

Senior Peter Withers (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) received the Linda Daniel Most Inspirational Player Award. A leader in Ohio State’s midfielder, he played in 73 matches in his career at Ohio State, starting in 64 of them.

Sophomore Dustin Kirby (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) received the Coaches’ Award. He started all 21 matches last season and led the Buckeyes in minutes played with 1,912. Kirby was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team and received one of seven Big Ten Sportsmanship Awards.

Sophomore Jim Fisher (Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) and freshman Ryan Kustos (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) shared the Most Improved Player Award. After playing in five games as a freshman, Fisher started in 19 games last season as a defender, totaling 1,668 minutes. Kustos scored five goals and had one assist to rank fourth on the team in scoring, leading all the freshmen in that category.

Junior Kyle Veris (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville/U. of Akron) was honored for being a first-team All-Big Ten selection, as well as a third-team All-Great Lakes Region selection. Sophomore Taylor Korpieski (Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) and junior Ray Burse Jr. (Prospect, Ky./St. Xavier) were recognized for being second-team All-Big Ten selections, while freshman Xavier Balc was honored for being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.