COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State women’s soccer head coach Lori Walker announced the Buckeyes’ schedule for the 2011 season Wednesday. Home highlights include the Buckeyes’ first matchup with perennial national power North Carolina at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium since 2001 and games against 2010 NCAA tournament qualifiers Dayton and Illinois.

The 2011 schedule includes eight NCAA participants from a year ago and three teams that advanced to the Sweet 16.

The Buckeyes, 2010 NCAA semifinalists and Big Ten champions, take on Xavier and Radford Aug. 19 and Aug. 21, respectively, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to open the season. After an Aug. 26 trip to take on Missouri in Columbia, Mo., the Buckeyes host Wright State Aug. 28.

Ohio State will go to West Virginia, a 2010 Sweet 16 team, Sept. 1 before hosting North Carolina, Walker’s alma mater, Sept. 4. The Tar Heels, 2008 and 2009 NCAA champions under the direction of head coach Anson Dorrance, finished last season with a 19-3-2 record after losing to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

The Buckeyes then have a week off before hosting Ohio Sept. 11 and wrapping up the non-conference slate Sept. 14 against Dayton, a team Ohio State knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round on penalty kicks last season.

A trip to Minnesota, a Sweet 16 team last season, is set for the Big Ten opener Sept. 18. The Buckeyes then return home to take on another NCAA participant, Illinois, in the conference home opener Sept. 23 before hosting Northwestern Sept. 25. The Illini defeated Ohio State, 2-1, last season in Columbus.

A tough weekend at rival Penn State Sept. 29 and Wisconsin Oct. 2, a pair of NCAA participants last season, awaits the Buckeyes before a trip to Purdue Oct. 9. Ohio State then hosts Iowa Oct. 13 and new Big Ten member Nebraska Oct. 16. It will mark the first matchup between the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers.

The Buckeyes hit the road for the final time in the regular season to face Michigan Oct. 21 and Michigan State Oct. 23 before the regular season finale against Indiana Oct. 30.

The Big Ten tournament, back for the first time since 2008, will be played Nov. 2-6 in Evanston, Ill., on the campus of Northwestern.   

A few notes about the Buckeyes 2011 opponents:

  • West Virginia (Sept. 1): Went 18-5-1 in 2010 before falling to Boston College in Sweet 16; finished the season ranked 13th in final NSCAA poll
  • North Carolina (Sept. 4): 19-3-2 in 2010, losing to Notre Dame in Sweet 16; ACC regular season champions and ranked 6th in final NSCAA poll; return ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Crystal Dunn
  • Dayton (Sept. 14): Went 19-3-1 in 2010 and captured the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles; receiving votes in final NSCAA poll
  • Minnesota (Sept. 18): Finished 2010 with a 14-6-3 record, falling to Georgetown in the Sweet 16; ranked 21st in final NSCAA poll
  • Illinois (Sept. 23): Advanced to NCAA tournament after going 13-5-1 in 2010; receiving votes in final NSCAA poll; returns Big Ten Freshman of the Year Vanessa DiBernardo
  • Penn State (Sept. 29): Co-Big Ten champions with the Buckeyes after going 8-2-0 in conference play; advanced to NCAA second round; receiving votes in final NSCAA poll
  • Wisconsin (Oct. 2): Went 11-4-5 in 2010 and advanced to second round of NCAA tournament; finished third in the Big Ten and received votes in final NSCAA poll; return Lauren Nosbusch, who tied for second in the Big Ten with 10 goals
  • Michigan (Oct. 21): Finished 2010 with a 10-5-4 record and advanced to NCAA tournament; return Nkem Ezurike, who tied for fifth in the Big Ten with nine goals

Game times that are still to be determined will be announced at a later date.