Buckeyes hand Spartans first home loss; set program record with eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2)

COLUMBUS, Ohio In the regular-season finale at 18th-ranked Michigan State Sunday, the 20th-ranked Ohio State men’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to a program-record eight games (6-0-2) with a 2-0 win over the Spartans at Old College Field in East Lansing. The Buckeyes are now 11-3-4 overall and wrap up Big Ten play with a 4-1-1 league mark to earn the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Championship next week back in East Lansing. The win also gives the seven-member senior class its school-record 45th victory at Ohio State.

Ohio State had not won a regular-season game at Michigan State since 1989 an 0-7-1 skid. The Spartans entered the game 7-0-1 at home this season and had allowed only four goals in those eight games at Old College Field. Michigan State falls to 11-4-2 and ends Big Ten play with a 2-3-1 record.

Ohio State, which was No. 7 in the national Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report this week, has not lost since Sept. 29 a streak of eight games that gives them sole possession of the program’s longest winning streak.

“This was a tough test, but there’s no question we were the better team,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “Two superb goals staked us to a 2-0 lead early in the first half and we know how to take care of a lead. Now the postseason begins and we have to make sure that our energy and attitude are ready to continue this streak.”

Senior Xavier Balc scored Ohio State’s first goal, which would hold up as his eighth-career game-winning goal, and he assisted on the Buckeyes’ second goal a header by senior Hermann Trophy candidate Eric Brunner. It marked the third time this season the two have connected on a corner kick from Balc, who built on his single-season and career assists records (12 and 33, respectively).

Senior goalkeeper Casey Latchem had four saves for his ninth shutout of the season, which ties for most in the Big Ten. Latchem’s 21 career shutouts are now 2.5 shy of the Ohio State career shutouts record, held by Kerry Thompson (1997-2001).

Balc’s goal came in the eighth minute off an assist from junior Roger Espinoza, who beat several Michigan State players down the left flank and delivered the ball to Balc, who slotted it under MSU goalkeeper Chris Austin into the lower left corner of the net.

Brunner’s goal came in the 26th minute as the 6-foot-4-inch central defender went high above the MSU defense to head the ball into the upper 90 of the near post.

The Buckeyes nearly went up 3-0 in the second half when Espinoza passed off to freshman Jordan Lomnicki for an open look at the goal, but an MSU defender slid in from the side to knock it away at the last moment.

“This was a good week,” Bluem said. “To go on the road twice against high-RPI teams and get two results is very good. Louisville was No. 33 in the RPI and Michigan State was No. 29. We have the experience now of winning on this field and four days later we’ll be back. If you can be comfortable away from home, maybe this will help. As the No. 2 seed, we’re going to have to play three days against good competition. We’ll take it one game at a time.

The seedings and bracket for the Big Ten Championship will be announced later Sunday or Monday by the conference. The quarterfinals are set to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at Old College Field in East Lansing. The semifinals Friday will be televised by the Big Ten Network (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and the championship game Sunday will be televised by CSTV (2 p.m.).


Postgame Notes: No. 20 Ohio State 2, No. 18 Michigan State 0
– The seven-member senior class is now 45-25-11 at Ohio State to become the school’s all-time winningest class. The 2002 seniors previously held the wins record with a 44-27-7 record. The 2007 seniors also own the best winning percentage by a class at .624.
– Ohio State’s 11 wins in the regular season tied for the most under 11th-year head coach John Bluem. The Buckeyes also won 11 games in the regular-season in 1999. The program record for regular-seasons wins is 12 in 1986. 
– The Buckeyes had not won a regular-season game at Michigan State since 1989 an 0-7-1 skid.
– Ohio State’s seven-game unbeaten streak entering the game was tied for the school’s best unbeaten streak with teams in 1977, 2000 and 2001.
– The Buckeyes now own a three-game winning streak against Michigan State after beating the Spartans in Columbus twice last year. Ohio State is now 14-22-2 all-time against Michigan State, including 3-15-1 in East Lansing.
– Following Sunday’s shutout, senior Casey Latchem’s goals against average stands at 0.79, which ties his GAA from last year for the second-best single-season GAA in program history. His updated career GAA of 0.92 is now tied for the best in Ohio State history with Kerry Thompson (1997-2001) and Chad Brown (2001-02).
– After notching a goal and an assist Sunday, senior Xavier Balc now owns two goals and two assists in five career games against Michigan State.
– With three points Sunday, Balc is now within one point of third-place on the all-time points list at Ohio State with 71. Juan Acevedo currently ranks third with 72 points from 1977-80.
– The Buckeyes are now 27-3-2 during the last three seasons when Balc has a point.
– Balc is responsible for 46 of Ohio State’s 79 goals the last three seasons (58 percent) either by goal, assist, or forcing an own goal.


                          Soccer Game Summary (Final)
                          2007 Ohio State Men’s Soccer
   #20 Ohio State vs #18 Michigan State (Nov 04, 2007 at East Lansing, Mich.)

 Ohio State (11-3-4, 4-1-1) vs. Michigan State (11-4-3, 2-3-1)
 Date: Nov 04, 2007  Attendance: 922
 Weather: sunny and 50

 Goals by period       1  2  Tot
 Ohio State……….  2  0 –  2
 Michigan State……  0  0 –  0
  1.   7:04 OSU Balc, Xavier (4) (Espinoza, Roger) – cross from left, volleyed in lower left 90
  2.  25:35 OSU Brunner, Eric (4) (Balc, Xavier) – header off corner

 Shots: Ohio State 8, Michigan State 13
 Saves: Ohio State 4 (Latchem, Casey 3; TEAM 1), Michigan State 3 (Austin, Chris 2; TEAM 1)

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Contact: Tim Stried,