COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State takes on Hofstra at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a first-round NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament  game at Jeffrey Field on the campus of Penn State University. The host and No. 1 seed Nittany Lions meet Monmouth in the other opening round game. The two winners will play Sunday at 1 p.m.

“This is fitting for our seniors,” Lori Walker, Ohio State head coach, said. “Our seniors have emerged through a lot of adversity to get back to the NCAAs. That’s the part we are really excited about.”

Fourth NCAA Appearance for Ohio State
Ohio State will be making its fourth NCAA appearance, all under the direction of Walker. The Buckeyes’ previous appearances were in 2002-03-04. In 2004, three current seniors Lara Dickenmann, Keiana Mitchell and Carla Arbulu played on the team’s wonderful run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA Tournament the past two years and getting back was a clear goal this year.

“I’m excited and I’m glad we made it,” Dickenmann said. “I don’t know much about Hofstra, but it doesn’t matter because all four teams are going to be good. It has been a hard two years. They weren’t easy. But we got better and we learned and we deserve this. We deserve to be in the tournament.”

“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Amanda Ball, one of three senior tri-captains along with Dickenmann and Mitchell, said. “I don’t know how else to answer. What we’ve been through the last couple years [not making the tournament] has been hard. But we’re on our way back up now.”

2002  L, 1-3 vs. Notre Dame at South Bend
2003  W, 3-0 vs. Dayton at Huntington, W.Va.
      L, 0-3 vs. West Virginia
2004  W, 2-0 vs. Bowling Green in Columbus
      W, 3-0 vs. Detroit at Columbus
      W, 1-0 vs. Tennessee
      L, 0-1 vs. UCLA 

The Buckeyes are 12-9-1 and are coming off a championship game appearance in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. The Buckeyes advanced to the championship game by defeating No. 4 seed Indiana in overtime, 2-1, in a quarterfinal contest and then stunning No. 1 Penn State in the semifinals in a game decided on penalty kicks, 5-4. The seniors showed the way throughout.

“Our seniors emerged at the Big Ten Tournament,” Lori Walker said. “Carla Arbulu scored a huge, tying goal against Indiana. Keiana Mitchell played some of her best soccer of the year the first two games. Lara Dickenmann continues to always attract the attention of the other team. Amanda Ball gave us some good minutes and she continues to be a leader. I like the way the seniors came through for us.”

Hofstra comes in to the NCAA Tournament at 17-3 overall, setting a new school record for wins in a season. The Pride earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game on Sunday. Hofstra will be making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament after earning its first bid in 2005. Ranked 27th in the final Soccer Buzz Magazine poll, Hofstra is led in scoring by senior Brooke DeRosa (31 points off 13 goals and five assists). Junior goalkeeper Krystal Robens has tied school records for season (11) and consecutive (6) shutouts, a streak that is curent.

This will be the first meeting between the Buckeyes and the Pride, who are coached by Simon Riddiough.

Penn State, 16-3-2 and one of four No. 1 seeds for the tournament – the others are North Carolina, Portland and Texas A&M – and Monmouth College, 12-4-4, will meet in the 5 p.m. game.

2007 is the 15th season of women’s soccer at Ohio State and this will be its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Ohio State is 4-3 in its previous NCAAs.
Ohio State is 3-1 at home in NCAA games, 1-0 vs. teams on neutral sites and 0-2 against a host school.
Ohio State is 2-1 in the 1st round, 1-1 in the 2nd, 1-0 in the 3rd and 0-1 in Elite Eight games.
Senior tri-captain Lara Dickenmann had a goal and assist in 2004 vs. Bowling Green and an assist vs. Detroit. Keiana Mitchell had a goal vs. Detroit, with Dickenmann assisting.
  Dickenmann and Mitchell are the only Buckeyes who have started in an NCAA Tournament game. Each started all four games for Ohio State in 2004. Carla Arbulu is the only other Buckeye with NCAA experience. She was a substitute in all four of the 2004 games. 

Ohio State played 11 games against eight teams that are part of the 2007 NCAA Tournament field. The Buckeyes went 4-6-1 vs. 2007 NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Here is a recap of those games:

Sept.  9 vs. San Diego W, 2-0
Sept. 16 at  Louisville L, 0-2
Sept. 20 vs. North Carolina (1) L, 0-5
Sept. 23 at  Duke L, 1-2
Sept. 28 vs. Illinois W, 2-1
Oct.  26 vs. Indiana W, 1-0
Oct.  28 vs. Purdue L, 1-3
Nov.   2 vs. Penn State L, 0-1
Nov.   8 vs. Indiana (2) W, 2-1
Nov.   9 vs. Penn State (2) T, 2-2 (2OT/PK 5-4)
No.   11 vs. Purdue (2) L, 1-3

(1) Played at Durham, N.C.
(2) Big Ten Conference Tournament at St. Paul, Minn.

Ohio State coach Lori Walker is in her 11th season coaching the Buckeyes and she has guided the team to each of its NCAA Tournament berths.  In 2004 she led the Buckeyes to their finest season ever: a 19-4-3 record, champion of the Big Ten Tournament and three NCAA tournament wins before losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight, 1-0. Walker is 121-91-16 at Ohio State and 134-114-17 all-time. She was head coach at Kansas for two seasons prior to coming to Ohio State.

Walker is a 1994 graduate of the University of North Carolina. She was a member of three national championship teams, three Atlantic Coast Conference championship teams and only lost one match in her career as a goalkeeper. She started for the Tar Heels in 1989 and concluded her career in 1991. She set a single season NCAA tournament goals against average record in 1989 of 0.00.

The Buckeyes are led in scoring by senior tri-captain Lara Dickenmann (4-8-16) with freshman Alex Burzynski (6-2-14) second in scoring and first in goals. Junior Lisa Collison (4-4-12) and sophomore Ashley Bowyer (3-4-10) are third and fourth in scoring, respectively, giving Ohio State a senior, junior, sophomore and freshman among its top four scorers. All four had points in the Big Ten Tournament:

Dickenmann had three assists, including two in the win over Indiana and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Burzynski had a goal against Penn State.
Collison assisted on Carla Arbulu’s dramatic game-tying goal in the 85th minute against Penn State.
Bowyer scored the game-winner vs. Indiana.

Sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Robertson has played every minute in goal and has posted seven shutouts. She had a terrific Big Ten Tournament, making 19 saves, and was named to the all-tournament team. Robertson led the Big Ten with 109 saves and with 4.95 saves per game. She was third with seven shutouts – T4th all-time for a single season at Ohio State – and she was 5th in saves percentage (.796) and eighth in goals against average (1.22).

Ohio State’s defense is led by James Laurinaitis…oops, that’s football. Ohio State’s defense is led by goalkeeper Lauren Robertson with support at defender from starters Lauren Hallauer and Lauren Steuer and reserve Lauren Beachy. Seniors Keiana Mitchell and Carla Arbulu typically start at defender as well.

Ohio State is averaging 13.05 shots (5th in the Big Ten), 1.36 goals (7th) and 1.68 assists (2nd) this season. Defensively, the Buckeyes allow 1.27 goals per game (10th), were first in the league in saves per game (5.14) and ninth in goals against (1.22). Ohio State also committed 10.36 fouls per game (4th) and averaged 5.18 corners (3rd).

Ohio State has been starting as many as five freshmen this season and playing as many as 10 freshmen and sophomores. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State’s lineup may look like this: goalkeeper is sophomore Lauren Robertson…defenders are senior Keiana Mitchell and freshmen Lauren Hallauer, Lauren Steuer and Carla Arbulu…midfielders are led by senior Lara Dickenmann with senior Amanda Ball and freshman Courtney Jenkins…the forwards are junior Lisa Collison, sophomore Ashley Bowyer and freshman Alex Burzynski. Bowyer has spent considerable time at midfield as well. Lauren Beachy is a 12-game starter at defender. Freshman Laura Roberts has made six starts at forward.

Ohio State made its fourth Big Ten Tournament championship game appearance under Lori Walker last weekend. After losing the title-game to Purdue, the Buckeyes are now 2-2 in title games with wins in 2002 and 2004. The team is 11-10 all-time in the tournament.

Advancing to the Big Ten Tournament championship game, with wins over Indiana and Penn State, certainly helped Ohio State’s resume for qualifing as an at-large team into the NCAA tournament. The run through the Big Ten tourney added clout to an already strong 2007 Ohio State schedule. Consider these note regarding this year’s schedule:

Ohio State played two games against Penn State, No. 5 by Soccer Buzz Magazine this week and No. 8 by Soccer America, two games vs. Nos. 4/5 Purdue and one game against Nos. 3/4 North Carolina.
Playing Purdue in the championship was the ninth game this year for Ohio State against a team ranked in the final RPI top 20.
Three of OSU’s 12 wins were over RPI top 20 teams (two over Indiana and one over San Diego.)
Ohio State is 4-5-1 vs. the 40 teams in the  last  RPI poll.

Ohio State’s appearance in the Big Ten championship game not only bolstered its prospects for making the NCAA Tournament, but it also enabled a young Ohio State team to gain experience in games with real pressure. Head coach Lori Walker: “I think the experience gained at the tournament is very important for our young players. We went in needing to win games. That is real pressure and our younger players now know what it means to play in a must-win situation.”

Lara Dickenmann was named to the 2007 All-Big Ten Conference women’s soccer team by vote of the 11 conference head coaches. Dickenmann was one of only two players Parrissa Eyorokon of Purdue was the other to be a unanimous selection to the first team. This is Dickenmann’s third first-team all-conference honor and fourth overall. She was a second-team choice in 2005.

Freshman Courtney Jenkins was named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team and senior tri-captain Amanda Ball was one of 11 players honored with the Sportsmanship Award.

Ohio State has reversed its fortune in overtime contests. Heading into this season, Ohio State had not won an overtime game since the 2003 season, going 0-6-6 and with losses in its last three overtime contests. No one on this team had even been part of an OSU overtime win, but that changed this year. Here’s how:

MAC Hermann Trophy and All-America candidate Lara Dickenmann scored overtme game winners against St. Louis and Ohio and assisted on overtime game-winners vs. Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana.
Lisa Collison scored the game-winner vs. Illinois.
Courtney Jenkins scored the game-winner vs. Minnesota.
  Ashley Bowyer scored the game-winner vs. Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.
  After neither team scored in the two overtime periods in the Big Ten tourney semifinal against Penn State, one-by-one five Buckeyes Dickenmann, Collison, Burzynski, Jenkins and  Bowyer stepped to the line and scored.
Lauren Robertson made the save on Penn State’s second shot and the Buckeyes ultimately would advance to the title game.

2007 Ohio State News, Notes and Good Stuff:

11 Buckeyes have scored goals this season and 16 players have scored.
Alex Burzynski has points in five of Ohio State’s last eight games (three goals and two assists).
The Buckeyes are 5-0-1 when Burzynski scores a goal.
The Buckeyes are 19-4-0 the past two years in games that Dickenmann scores a point.
Ohio State has wins via penalty kick three times in the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes also advanced with penalty kick wins over Michigan and Purdue in 2002.
Dickenmann has 35 career assists, the Ohio State record.
Lara Dickenmann also ranks sixth in career goals (27) and second in points (89). 
Lauren Robertson’s seven shutouts this season rank fourth at Ohio State for a season.
Carla Arbulu ranks fourth  with 18 career assists.
Lisa Collison ranks fourth with 28 goals and sixth with 64 points.
Ohio State’s freshman class was rated No. 1 in the Big Ten and 13th natioally by Soccer Buzz Magazine.
The frosh have scored 38 of the team’s 97 points with Alex Burzynski (6-2-14), Courtney Jenkins (4-1-9) and Genna Brand (2-0-4) the leading point producers.
Central defender Lauren Hallauer leads all frosh with 22 starts and is followed by Lauren Steuer (21), Courtney Jenkins (19) and Alex Burzynski (19).
Lauren Robertson was named Big Ten Conference women’s soccer Defensive Player of the Week Oct. 15 after posting shutout wins over Michigan, 1-0, and Michigan State, 3-0. She totaled eight saves in the two games.
Ashley Bowyer and Lara Dickenmann were each selected to the 11-player Duke adidas Classic all-tournament team.
Senior tri-captain Lara Dickenmann has been named to the preseason watch list for the Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in intercollegiate soccer.
Lara Dickenmann also has been named to MajorLeagueSoccer Magazine’s preseason All-America team. MLS is a new soccer publication that debuted in July.
Lauren Robertson earned Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors Sept. 10 and also a spot on Soccer Buzz Magazine’s Elite Team of the Week after posting three wins over Butler, Wright State and San Diego.
Carla Arbulu was named to Soccer Buzz Magazine’s first Elite Team of the Week for 2007 (Sept. 3) after recording five points in OSU wins over Butler and St. Louis. Arbulu notched two assists against Butler and then tallied a goal and an assist in the 3-2 victory over St. Louis.