Oct. 31, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio- The Ohio State women's soccer team (9-7-1 overall, 5-4-1 in the Big Ten) plays host to the No. 1 team in the nation, North Carolina, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to close out its regular season.
"We look at playing North Carolina as a learning opportunity," Lori Walker, OSU head coach, said. "Everything is about learning and growing and that is what this team has done this year. It's really paid off. Our hope is to have a favorable outcome. The match is going to make us a better team all around."
Lisa Grubb's play against No. 4 Penn State and Evansville earned her Big Ten offensive player of the week honors for the second time this year and a spot on the Soccer America team of the week for the first time. In the 2-1 upset of PSU Friday, Grubb netted the first goal of the match seven minutes in and added an assist on fellow freshman Liz Mumley's game-winning goal. Statistically, Grubb ranks fourth among conference players in goals (9), game-winning goals (3) and shots (58) and is fifth in points (22) and 10th in assists (4).
The Buckeyes are 5-0-1 in their last six matches, the longest unbeaten streak in program history. Teams in the 1998 and 1999 campaigns went 4-0-1 during their respective seasons. The longest stretch of wins in a row by any OSU team is five, set by the 1996 squad.
One fan in attendance Saturday will have a chance to win $10,000 at halftime of the OSU-UNC match by making two-of-three shots on goal. Fans can register at the promotions table near the front gate and the name of the lucky participant will be drawn and announced five minutes into the match.
The Buckeyes, on the strength of their unbeaten streak, appear in the latest national and regional polls. In both the NSCAA/adidas and SoccerBuzz national rankings, OSU has received votes. On the regional level, the NSCAA has the Buckeyes ranked as the No. 3 team in the Great Lakes behind Notre Dame and Michigan. SoccerBuzz has OSU at No. 4 in the same region behind UND, UM and Cincinnati.
After failing to qualify for the Big Ten tournament a year ago, the Buckeyes posted a 5-4-1 mark in conference play to finish fourth and claim a spot in the tournament field. Seeded No. 4 in the event, OSU will battle host and No. 5 seed Purdue at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, on the West Field in West Lafayette, Ind. The No. 4 seed the Buckeyes earned is the highest in the history of the program. The winner of the conference tournament earns an automatic berth into the field of 64 in the NCAA tournament.
AN ORDER OF LARGE WINS
Ohio State has faced two nationally ranked opponents this year and has left the pitch with two tallies in the win column. In their third match of the year, the Buckeyes handed then-No. 9 Connecticut a 2-1 defeat in Storrs, Conn., at the UConn Classic. OSU also defeated then-No. 4 PSU this past Friday (Oct. 26), 2-1. The Buckeyes will look to improve to 3-0 on the year when No. 1 UNC comes to town.
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 NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina enters Columbus with an unblemished 14-0-0 record. Head coach Anson Dorrance, in his 23rd year at the helm and the only coach UNC has known, leads a program that has won 17 national championships and helped him to a career record of 501-22-11.
The Tar Heels are led offensively by the scoring of Alyssa Ramsey and Elizabeth Ball. Ramsey has taken just 32 shots this year but has tallied 11 goals and 11 assists for 33 points. Ball provides a spark off the bench for UNC. She has played in 13 matches, starting none, and is second in scoring with 21 points (8G, 5A).
Defensively, the Tar Heels have relied on two goalkeepers: Jenni Branam and Kristin DePlatchett. Both have started seven matches and allowed three goals each. Branam and DelPlatchett have made 24 and 14 saves, respectively, and both have a goals-against average under 0.50.
BUCKEYES VS. TAR HEELS
The Ohio State-North Carolina series enters its second match with the Tar Heels holding the 1-0-0 advantage. UNC defeated OSU, 6-1, at Duke in Durham, N.C., during the 1994 season. The five goal deficit is the second largest in the Buckeyes' short history behind 7-0 losses to Notre Dame and Northwestern, both on the road.
WALKER AS A TAR HEEL
A letterwinner for UNC from 1989-91, Lori Walker led the Tar Heels to a national championship as the starting goalkeeper in the 1991 season. In 1,403 minutes of action, Walker recorded 63 saves and allowed only four goals. She also posted 11 shutouts. Her 0.42 goals against average ranks the fifth-best in UNC's storied history.
Along with contributions from Lisa Grubb, several other Ohio State individuals are among the conference leaders in both offense and defense.
Joining Grubb offensively is Lindsay Eckles. She is tied for ninth in shots with 45 and is tied for eighth in goals with seven. Liz Mumley is tied for 10th in the Big Ten with four assists. Emily Thorpe is tied for fifth in assists with five.
Jen Heaney ranks highly in several goalkeeper categories. She is tied for fourth with four shutouts and is fifth in goals against average at 1.27 per match. Her 60 saves ranks seventh. As a team, the Buckeyes have netted 28 goals, the fifth-most in the Big Ten. They also have posted 22 assists (fourth) while only allowing 24 goals (ninth). Twenty-four goals against is tied for the fewest allowed by a Buckeye team in program history.
LAST TIME OUT
The Buckeyes scored probably the biggest win in the program's eight-year history with a 2-1 upset of No. 4 Penn State Oct. 26.
After being held without a shot at PSU a year ago, OSU scored twice in the first 10 minutes of play and collected four shots. Lisa Grubb opened the scoring at 6:20 when she received a pass from Emily Thorpe and dribbled around a defender and the outstretched arms of PSU goalkeeper Emily Oleksiuk. Grubb, three minutes later, carried the ball down the left wing and crossed it to a wide open Liz Mumley. Mumley shot the ball low and to the right of Oleksiuk for her first career goal, a 2-0 lead for OSU and what later became the gamewinning score. OSU battled with the Nittany Lions, and two power outages, to pull off the 2-1 win.
On Sunday (Oct. 28), the Buckeyes continued their streak with a 4-3 defeat of Evansville. Lindsay Eckles, Melanie Vierling, Kiley Enmark and Grubb scored for OSU. Jen Heaney made three saves to help preserve the win.
Ohio State's match with UNC Saturday will mark the final home contest for seniors Melanie Vierling, Courtney Nein, Brynn Catino, Brooke Thomas and Emily Thorpe. All five players have been instramental in the success of the program in their time here.
With their play this year, Lindsay Eckles and Emily Thorpe have surged ahead of former Buckeye players in the record books.
Eckles has recorded 26 goals as a Buckeye, the third-most all-time in the program, and needs four more to tie the 30 posted by Lisa Suttmiller from 1994-97. Eckles also is fourth all-time in career points with 57. Her seven goals this year is tied for the eighth-most in a single season with Lisa Suttmiller (1995) and Melanie Vierling (1998).
Thorpe, with two assists on the weekend, moved to within four assists of Lisa Suttmiller's 23 helpers with 17 of her own. Her five this year is tied for fifth-most in a single season and has moved her seventh all-time in scoring with 35 points (8G, 17A).
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 travel to West Lafayette, Ind., and the campus of Purdue for the 2001 Big Ten Tournament, Nov. 8-11. OSU, the No. 4 seed, opens play against the Boilermakers (No. 5 seed) at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. The winner advances to the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9. The championship final will be held Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.