Nov. 1, 2006
Ohio State will play host to the 2006 Big Ten Men's Soccer Championship beginning on Thursday, November 2. The tournament should prove to be an exciting one once again, starting with Penn State-Northwestern at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin will play Michigan at 1:30 p.m., while Ohio State and Michigan State wrap up the first round at 4:30 p.m. A familiar top seed - Indiana - gets a first-round bye and will face the winner of Penn State-Northwestern on Friday in the first semifinal, with the winners of the other two Thursday contests battling in the second semifinal. Sunday's championship game will start at 12:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live on CSTV.
Here's a quick team-by-team look at the field:
No. 1 seed Indiana (12-4-2, 4-1-1 Big Ten): The Hoosiers played a difficult schedule this season, facing five ranked teams and compiling a 2-2-1 mark against that slate. After a three-game skid in the early part of the season, IU ran off an unbeaten streak of eight games before a tough 1-0 loss at Penn state on Oct. 20. Brian Ackley and Darren Yeagle have led the Hoosiers offensively. Yeagle has 14 points on six goals and two assists while Ackley has five goals and four assists, also for 14 points. Kevin Robson (3g,5a) and Eric Alexander (3g, 4a) have also been key offensive contributors. Chay Cain has a majority of the time in goal this season, and has posted some nice numbers to go along with that. Cain has a 0.73 goals-against average while earning a 10-2-2 record and six shutouts. Indiana is the top seed for the 10th time in the past 11 years, and will be seeking its 11th Big Ten Championship this weekend.
No. 2 seed Ohio State (9-6-3, 3-2-1 Big Ten): The host Buckeyes enter the Big Ten Championship as the second seed after a campaign that saw them take on four top-15 teams and eight ranked teams in total. Ohio State enters the Championship on something of a roll with just one loss since Sept. 22, coming at the hands of Indiana and only by a single goal. Xavier Balc leads all scorers in the conference with 20 points (6g, 8a) and has scored three game-winning goals this year. Ryan Kustos is also a threat for the Buckeyes with seven points (3g, 1a). Casey Latchem has played every minute in goal for OSU this fall and boasts a 0.80 goals-against average and a 9-6-3 record with nine shutouts to date. This is Ohio State's third consecutive year as the overall No. 2 seed in the championship tournament. The Buckeyes will be seeking their first title since 2000 - coincidentally the last time OSU played host to the Championship.
No. 3 seed Wisconsin (9-7-2, 3-2-1 Big Ten): After a challenging campaign that saw Wisconsin face three top-10 teams, including posting a 1-0 win vs. then-No. 7 Illinois-Chicago, the Badgers are ready to take on the field at the Big Ten Championship as the No. 3 seed. Victor Diaz leads UW in scoring with 12 points on four gals and four assists, but is followed closely by Zack Lambo with 10 points (3g, 4a). Five other Badgers have at least two goals on the season as part of a balanced offensive attack. Jake Settle has been in goal for all but 25 minutes this season and holds a 0.76 goals-against average as well as a 9-6-2 record with eight shutouts. The Badgers have been a second-half team all season, scoring 19 goals in the second frame compared to only five goals in the first 45 minutes of games, despite taking 10 more shots in first half action (122-112). UW is seeking its first Big Ten Championship since 1995 when it was declared co-champion along with Indiana.
No. 4 seed Penn State (6-10-2, 3-3-0 Big Ten): Penn State may have played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, facing 10 ranked teams this fall. The Nittany Lions are the only Big Ten team to post a win against top-seeded Indiana this season, having earned a 1-0 victory at home against the Hoosiers on Oct. 20. Simon Omekanda leads PSU on the offensive end with 12 points to date with four goals and four assists. Jeff Chambers is second overall in scoring with seven points (2g, 3a), followed by Barkley Miller with six (2g, 2a). Conrad Taylor has been the only goalkeeper for the Lions, posting a 1.18 goals-against average and a .761 save percentage. The defending Big Ten Champions will be seeking their second straight title and third overall, having also won in 2002.
No. 5 seed Northwestern (11-6-0, 2-4-0 Big Ten): After jumping out to a hot 7-1 start, Northwestern cooled just a bit, but still comes into the Big Ten Championship with an 11-6 overall mark. David Roth leads a solid offense for the Wildcats with 18 points on a conference-leading seven goals and four assists. Other top contributors include Brad North with 14 points (6g, 2a) and Carl Pett with 10 points (1g, 8a). Will Briley has seen most of the time in goal and boasts a 1.02 goals-against average and a .766 save percentage with five shutouts. Like Ohio State, Northwestern has also been a second-half team scoring 16 points in the second half compared to seven in the first over the season. The Wildcats will be seeking their first Big Ten Championship, but did appear in the title game as recently as 2004.
No. 6 seed Michigan (6-9-4, 1-2-3 Big Ten): Michigan may have played more soccer than any team in the conference this season, playing into overtime seven times already this season, including a 2-1 win over then-No. 14 Kentucky. Perica Marosevic leads all scorers for Michigan with 12 points on five goals and two assists. Five other Wolverines have at least two goals during this campaign. Patrick Sperry has spearheaded the defensive efforts from the goal, and holds a 1.18 goals-against average and a .753 save percentage. Michigan will also be seeking its first Big Ten Championship, with its most recent appearance in the championship game coming in 2002.
No. 7 seed Michigan State (10-6-2, 1-3-2, Big Ten): While the Spartans are the No. 7 seed, they are playing their best soccer of the year, winning four of their last five games. Kenzo Webster is tied for the Big Ten lead in goals scored with seven and has 15 points total (7g, 1a) to lead the Spartans in scoring. Matt Kreikemeier is also a top scoring threat with 12 points on six goals. Four other Spartans have tallied a pair of goals. Jason Tillman has been the primary goalkeeper for MSU and has a 0.88 goals-against average along with a .764 save percentage and seven shutouts. Michigan State is looking for its second Big Ten Championship, having won its first in 2004.