May 6, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s soccer team wrapped up its spring drills and scrimmage schedule last week as the Buckeyes began preparations for the 2004 fall campaign. Head coach John Bluem, who will be entering his eighth season this fall, will return 15 letterwinners from his 2003 squad and has signed eight new players to the roster.

“Overall the spring was positive,” Bluem said. “We identified the players remaining from this year’s team that we feel will be able to compete successfully next season. We were able to experiment with some people in different positions, which will give us more depth next year.”

Ohio State began the spring with a pair of shutout victories at Bowling Green, 2-0, and Findlay, 3-0. The Buckeyes were then handed a 1-0 loss by Akron, a NCAA tournament qualifier a year ago (15-5-2), before playing their only home contest of the spring, a 5-1 loss to the Columbus Crew in the Third Annual Connor Senn Memorial Match. Dayton, 12-5-2 a year ago, posted a 2-1 win over Ohio State before the Buckeyes responded with a 4-1 win at Xavier to wrap up the spring.

NCAA tournament qualifiers in 2000 and 2001, the Buckeyes posted an 11-7-1 record in 2002 but were not selected for the postseason. Though Ohio State returned a strong defense in 2003, much of the scoring punch from its previous three teams had graduated and as a result the Buckeyes posted a 4-12-4 record despite owning one of the Big Ten’s best defenses.

Also missing from last season’s roster was Justin Cook (Sr., Winter Springs, Fla./Oviedo), who has scored 21 goals and collected 11 assists in his career but did not play due to injury. His return to the lineup this spring was clearly evident.

“The return of Justin Cook from injury was a plus as we looked much more dangerous going forward,” Bluem said. Several Buckeyes will be in action this summer as members of the Premier Development League. Playing for the Columbus Stars will be senior Adam Schauer (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy), senior Peter Withers (Portland, Ore./Jesuit), junior Ray Burse Jr. (Prospect, Ky./St. Xavier), junior Kyle Veris (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville/Univ. of Akron) and sophomore Taylor Korpieski (Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington). Cook will play for the Central Florida Kraze, while sophomores Dustin Kirby (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and Rob Strachan (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) will suit up for the Cleveland Internationals.

## GO BUCKS! ##