Oct. 23, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio- The Ohio State women's soccer team (7-7-1 overall, 4-4-1 in the Big Ten) plays host to No. 4 Penn State and Evansville at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this weekend. The OSU-PSU match is at 7 p.m. Friday and is important to the seeding the Buckeyes will receive in the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes and Purple Aces square off at 2 p.m. Sunday.
"We have to play the way we know we can this weekend," Lori Walker, OSU head coach, said. "Penn State and Evansville are both tough teams and we have to play well. These matches will help determine where we finish in the Big Ten and possibly help us get into the NCAA tournament."
COMING ON STRONG
The Buckeyes currently are on a four-match unbeaten streak thanks to the play of their defense and some veteran leadership.
"We have a young team," Walker said. "At the beginning, we were full of adrenaline and then we hit a lull. You really need your older players to step up in that lull and be leaders but, at that time, we had a few injuries. Now that everyone is back together and on the same page, we are peaking at the right time."
The return of Lindsay Eckles two weeks ago sparked the offense and helped the team start its unbeaten streak. The return of Brook Thomas also has been an instrumental part of the success OSU has enjoyed.
"Brooke Thomas is back in at midfield and that really solidifies our lineup both on the offensive and defensive end," Walker said. "She is a natural leader and does a very nice job organizing the midfielders. Since Brooke has been starting, we have not lost a game. I would contribute some of that to her and her organization."
The Buckeyes are ranked in the latest NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region poll. OSU, the No. 10 team, returns to the polls after a five week hiatus. The Buckeyes are not ranked in the latest SoccerBuzz Great Lakes Region as well as both national polls.
MOVING ON UP
Three weeks ago, OSU was on the bottom of the conference standings looking up at the rest of its Big Ten opponents. Thanks to their current unbeaten streak, the Buckeyes are in a three-way tie for fourth place and have clinched a spot in the Big Ten tournament, Nov. 8-11 in West Lafayette, Ind.
"There is such parity in the league right now that we could finish anywhere from fourth to eighth in the conference," Walker said. "We would like to be a four or five seed because we might get a chance to play a team that we should have beaten in the regular season and did not. Our team is peaking at the right time and doing well in the last three matches at home. Picking up a couple of wins at the Big Ten tournament could help us into the field of 64."
Randy Reinhart (play-by-play) and Jeff Wuerth (color) will call the action between the Buckeyes and Purple Aces for Central Ohio Sport! TV Sunday. The match will be taped and reaired Tuesday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. exclusively on Time Warner Communications (Channel 24) and Insight Communications (Channel 36).
WALKER AT THE HELM
In four seasons as head coach, Lori Walker has amassed a 40-36-4 record (.525) with the Scarlet and Gray, including two 12-plus win campaigns. She is 12-23-2 (.351) in Big Ten play. Walker stands 53-59-5 overall in six seasons as a collegiate coach following a two year stint at Kansas.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
First-year coach Paula Wilkins and the Nittany Lions are 12-2-1 overall, 8-0-1 in the Big Ten and recently clinched their fourth-consecutive conference championship. PSU, ranked No. 4 in the latest NSCAA poll, is led by the scoring of Christie Welsh and Heidi Drummond and the defense of goalkeeper Emily Oleksiuk.
Welsh, a two-time All-American, has scored 16 goals and 10 assists (42 points) to set the all-time career record in all three categories with 60, 31 and 151, respectively. Drummond is second in scoring with 26 points (11G, 4A).
Oleksiuk, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, has allowed only 12 goals and made 38 saves. She has shut out PSU's opponents five times and is 12-2-1 on the year.
BUCKEYES VS. NITTANY LIONS
Ohio State and Penn State will meet for the ninth time in the history of the series Friday. The Nittany Lions hold a 6-2-0 advantage and have won four-consecutive matches and outscored OSU, 9-0. The Buckeyes' last win came in 1997 at home in a 2-1 contest. OSU is 2-1-0 all-time against PSU in matches played in Columbus.
WALKER ON PENN STATE
"Christie Welsh is a talanted player. I am anxious to see how our defense stacks up to her skill. The problem with Penn State is it is not just Welsh. Heidi Drummond is doing a lot of scoring up top for them as well. We will just have to play great team defense to try and slow them down."
"We have a lot of respect for Penn State all over the field. They are a very solid team. The thing I like most about playing such a talanted team is we get a chance to see where we are and have progressed.
Ninth-year head coach Mick Lyon and the Evansville Purple Aces come to Columbus with an 11-4-0 record (4-1 MVC) after dropping a 2-1 double overtime decision at Illinois State Sunday. The loss snapped EU's 16 match unbeaten streak and ended its bid for a fifth conference title in a row.
Kristin Prom (5G, 4A) and Tracye Burch (4G, 6A) lead the offense with 14 points each. Prom is tied for the team lead in goals with five and Burch's six helpers is a team best. Goalkeeper Katie Howard has made 57 saves, allowed 16 goals and has four shutouts.
BUCKEYES VS. PURPLE ACES
The Ohio State-Evansville series enters its second match with the Buckeyes holding the 1-0-0 advantage over the Purple Aces. The first match was the season opener for both squads with OSU scoring a 1-0 win in Evansville, Ind.
WALKER ON EVANSVILLE
"They are a good team and they had some good results at the beginning of the year. We have to focus on playing our game our way. We need to get more points so we are more focused on Friday (Penn State) than we are in Sunday but we will be ready to play a tough Evansville team. We have a good rivalry with them and it has been a few years since we last played.
Lisa Grubb is fifth in the Big Ten in points with 16 (7G, 2A) and also stands fifth in goals scored. PSU's Christie Welsh leads both categories.
Joining Grubb in the Top 10 conference goal scorers is Lindsay Eckles. Eckles is seventh with six.
Jen Heaney is fourth in the conference with a goals against average of 0.39.
The newest additions to the OSU squad have proven to be an intricate part of the early success the Buckeyes have enjoyed.
"I am very, very pleased with their contributions," Walker said. "They are learning a lot about the game at this level. Their creativity and courage at this point is very commendable." Lisa Grubb leads the team in scoring with 16 points on a team-high seven goals while fellow classmate Liz Mumley ranks tied for fourth in scoring on the strength of four assists, another team high.
In all, nine freshmen have played with four recording at least one point. Joining Grubb and Mumley in scoring are Heather Miller and Emily Gilbert with two and one assists, respectively.
THE REMAINING MATCHES
The Buckeyes have at least four matches remaining in their current campaign, three at home against Penn State, Evansville and North Carolina, and an undetermined opponent in the Big Ten tournament. OSU's remaining regular season opponents are a combined 26-6-1 led by UNC's 13-0-0 record. Penn State and Evansville stand 12-2-1 and 11-4-0, respectively.
LAST TIME OUT
The Buckeyes won a pair of Big Ten contests at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to move up from seventh in the conference standings to a tie for fourth with Michigan State and Iowa.
In the weekend opener with Northwestern, Jen Miller converted a penalty kick to put the Buckeyes ahead, 1-0, in the 23rd minute. Lindsay Eckles helped create the score. While trying to get in behind the defense, Eckles was tripped in the box and OSU was awarded a penalty kick. A strong defense and four saves by Jen Heaney secured the shutout win for the Buckeyes.
On Sunday, Heaney and Wisconsin's Kelly Conway tallied three and eight saves, respectively, as the teams played to a 0-0 tie in double overtime. Lisa Grubb led the offense with three shots on goal and Eckles and Emily Thorpe each had two.
The Buckeyes have upset a Top 25 team in three of the five seasons Walker has been at the helm. In 1997, OSU knocked off No. 13 Penn State, 2-1, in Columbus. The Buckeyes then downed No. 18 Florida State and No. 12 Missouri, 2-1 and 3-2, respectively, last year.
Lindsay Eckles and Emily Thorpe, with their performances at Illinois (Oct. 12) and Iowa (Oct. 14), have surged ahead of former Buckeye players in the record books.
Eckles has recorded 25 goals as a Buckeye, the third-most all-time in the program, and needs five more to tie the 30 posted by Lisa Suttmiller from 1994-97. Eckles also is tied with Becky Borchers (1995-98) for fourth all-time in career points with 55. Borchers tallied 22 goals and 11 assists and Eckles has posted 25 goals and six helpers.
Thorpe, with two assists on the weekend, surpassed Katy Traeger's (1996-99) 13 to move to second all-time. Thorpe trails Suttmiller's 23 helpers for the top spot all-time.
THE BUCKEYES HAVE A NEW HOME
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium opened its doors in Fall 1999. Since then it has been home to the Ohio State men's and women's soccer teams in the fall and the men's and women's lacrosse and track teams in the spring. The stadium is one of the finest collegiate soccer facilities in the nation. The playing surface (Kentucky bluegrass) is a regulation 75 x 116. Since last season, construction was completed on an elevated grandstand-with seating available for an additional 8,000 spectators-concourse level and a working press box.
Surrounded by a wrought iron fence with brick piers, the stadium also houses locker rooms and offices for the men's and women's soccer, men's tennis, men's and women's lacrosse, field hockey and softball programs.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Buckeyes will play host to the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.