[OHIO STATE PREVIEW]
From last year's disappointment of not being invited to the NCAA Tournament was born the motivation to succeed in 2007.
Buckeyes left no doubt about their NCAA credentials, winning the Big Ten Tournament and earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
They ride a 14-game unbeaten streak -- twice as long as
the next best team in Cary.
Like UMass coach Sam Koch
, who came from Stanford, John Bluem
left the West
Coast, where he coached at Fresno State, to take over what was a modest Ohio State program. KEYS TO SUCCESS:
1. Xavier Balc
must get into the game up front. After being held scoreless against Louisville and UC Santa Barbara, the senior broke out against Bradley with
a pair of goals. Each year the senior's stats have improved. He leads the Buckeyes with eight goals and 13 assists.
2. At 6-foot-6, Eric
is a monster in the middle of the Buckeye backline that also includes 6-foot-3 Tim Gabel and a pair of 6-footers. The Buckeyes must stop UMass on set pieces and get Brunner, who
played on Maryland's 2004 College Cup team, in the game at the other end. He scored twice on free kicks in the comeback win over UCSB.
, a transfer from JC power Yavapai, has been outstanding on the left wing in the NCAA Tournament. He'll need to take some of the pressure off Balc. STARTERS:
1 Casey Latchem
(SR Perrysburg, Ohio) DEFENDERS
4 Patrick Roan
(JR Westerville, Ohio) 15 Doug Verhoff
Dublin, Ohio) 23 Eric Brunner
(SR Dublin, Ohio) 18 Tim Gabel
Wildwood, Mo.) MIDFIELDERS
6 Matt Gold
(FR San Antonio, Texas) 8 Danny Irizarry
(JR Lawrenceville, Ga.) 9 Geoff Marsh
(JR North Olmsted, Ohio) 25 Roger
(JR Aurora, Colo.) FORWARDS
10 Andrew Magill
(SO Oak Brook, Ill.) 3 Xavier Balc
(SR Hudson, Ohio) KEY RESERVES: 13 Jordan
(FR Elmhurst, Ill.) 17 Ryan Kustos
(SR West Chester, Ohio) 19 Eric Edwards
Loveland, Ohio) 20 Steven Traeger
(SR Littleton, Colo.)