FORT MYERS, Fla. - After an impressive inaugural season, the Eagles open their second season of competition this week against No. 9 Ohio State and Penn State, on Friday and Sunday, respectively, in the Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.
The Eagles, who are ranked fifth in the preseason Atlantic Sun poll, are very young. Only half of last year's 18-man roster is back for this season, and Coach Bob Butehorn expects only four or five of those players to start. That leaves FGCU to rely heavily on its 19 newcomers, who are mostly freshmen.
The Eagles are 4-4-0 all-time on the road. FGCU is also 1-0-0 all-time in its first road game of the season.
Central Florida vs. Penn State – 5 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. #9 Ohio State – 7:30 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Penn State – noon
Central Florida vs. #9 Ohio State – 2:30 p.m.
LIVE ON THE WEB
Log on to OhioStateSports.net to listen live to Ohio State’s two games this weekend in the Wolstein Classic. Gabe Norris and Evan Winkofsky will have the call. In addition, live statistics of all four matches of the Wolstein Classic will be available at OhioStateBuckeyes.com. The links are found on the front page, the men’s soccer front page and the men’s soccer schedule page.
EAGLES VS. BUCKEYES, NITTANY LIONS
This weekend, FGCU is facing Ohio State and Penn State for the first time in program history.
A LOOK AT OHIO STATE
Coming off their best season in school history, the Buckeyes have seven starters and 15 letterwinners back from their 2007 team that went 17-4-5, won the Big Ten and advanced to the national championship game. After a loss to Northwestern Sept. 23, Ohio State went on a 15-game unbeaten streak that did not end until top-ranked Wake Forest scored two second-half goals to win the national title Dec. 16 at the College Cup in Cary, N.C.
The Buckeyes dropped both of their exhibition games last week at home, falling to Detroit Mercy, 1-0, and No. 6 Creighton, 3-0. Despite the two losses, Ohio State had more shots overall than their opponents (32-23) and more shots on goal (12-8). The Buckeyes also took 13 corner kicks compared to only two for their opponents.
Ohio State was picked third in the Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll behind Indiana and Northwestern. The Buckeyes’ preseason rank of No. 9 in the NSCAA national preseason poll is the highest in program history.
A LOOK AT PENN STATE
When 21-year head coach Barry Gorman leads his Nittany Lions against Central Florida on Friday evening, he will be seeking his 250th victory at Penn State. Gorman, the 2005 Big Ten Coach of the Year, is already the program's winningest coach with a career record of 249-139-37. During that span, the three-time NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year has guided the Lions to 12 NCAA postseason appearances, captured three Big Ten championships, and coached 41 First Team All-Big Ten selections.
The Nittany Lions head into the 2008 regular season after posting a 0-1-1 record in exhibition action, despite dominating possession in both contests and outshooting its opponents by a combined total of 30-7. Penn State dropped its exhibition opener on Aug. 13 to Marshall by a score of 1-0 before drawing with Pitt, 2-2, on Aug. 23 in the preseason finale. Two newcomers, junior Matheus Braga and freshman Corey Hertzog, accounted for Penn State's goals versus Pitt. Warren Gross and Liam Fitzwater, who are waging a battle for the starting goalkeeper spot, split time evenly between the pipes over the two games.