Ohio State 2, Notre Dame 1

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - After taking a big step last Friday with its first NCAA tournament win in program history, the Ohio State men's soccer team took an even bigger step Tuesday night at Notre Dame, as the Buckeyes upset the ninth-ranked and fifth-seeded Fighting Irish in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Ohio State advances to the round of 16 this weekend against the winner of the Duke-Old Dominion contest. Time, date and location of the game will be announced Wednesday.

The Buckeyes (12-6-2) scored in the fourth minute and, following a Notre Dame goal in the 59th minute, scored the game-winning goal in the 76th minute for one of the biggest wins in school history. The Fighting Irish, which owned the nation's top-ranked defense (0.39 goals-allowed average) coming into the game, see their season come to an end with a 13-3-3 record.

"This is the furthest we have every gone in the NCAA tournament," John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. "Our Big Ten championship in 2000 was great, but this win tonight has to rank right up there. To advance to this level and beat a great Notre Dame on their home field is a great accomplishment."

Ohio State senior captain Justin Cook (Winter Springs, Fla./Oviedo) put the Buckeyes up 1-0 and freshman Ryan Kustos (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) notched the game-winner to give OSU its 12th win of the season, which ties the school record for wins in a season. Junior goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. (Prospect, Ky./St. Xavier had four saves, with three of them coming in the second half as he dove to save Irish shots.

"This has never been done," Burse said. "We're so excited words can't describe how we feel right now. We knew Notre Dame was a Top-5 team, but we weren't scared. We've been competing against teams of their caliber all season and beat most of them."

Last Friday in Columbus Ohio State beat No. 11 Memphis, 1-0, to secure the Buckeyes' first-ever NCAA tournament win. The momentum from that win, coupled with the Notre Dame's 16-day layoff since its last game, was a big factor as the Buckeyes came up with a big play in the fourth minute to take a 1-0 lead.

Following a Notre Dame cross that skidded out of bounds near the goal, Burse quickly sent a booming goal kick that caught the Fighting Irish off guard and found Cook in stride on his way towards the UND net. Cook got past Notre Dame defender Christopher High and dribbled the ball into the left side of the 6-yard box and beat Irish goalkeeper Chris Sawyer for his 12th goal of the season.

The assist was the second of the season for Burse, who combined with junior Kevin Nugent (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) on a similar goal against Bowling Green Sept. 24. The goal marked just the second goal Notre Dame had allowed in the UND's last 12 matches. It was just the eighth goal of the season allowed by Sawyer, who was named the 2004 BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year.

The score would remain 1-0 in favor of Ohio State through halftime before Notre Dame's Christopher High scored the equalizer in the 59th minute off an assist from Kevin Goldthwaite. The Irish out-shot the Buckeyes 8-1 in the second half, but OSU's one shot would prove to the game-winner off the foot of No. 17 Kustos, who re-entered the game in the 17th minute and would find the back of the net two minutes later.

The Buckeyes penetrated the ball into Irish territory on the left side of the midfield before sophomore Taylor Korpieski (Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) was fouled from behind, resulting in an OSU direct kick from 35 yards away. Korpieski shook off his sore leg to send the ball into the 6-yard box and to Kustos, who flicked the ball into the left corner of the net to put the Buckeyes up, 2-1.

In the first half, Ohio State's defense continually frustrated Notre Dame as Irish shots were blocked by junior Kyle Veris (Strongsville, Ohio/Univ. of Akron) and sophomore Dustin Kirby (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and Burse had one save. Senior Peter Withers (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) also had a stellar sliding tackle and controlled the ball afterwards to deny Notre Dame's Ian Etherington of a break-away opportunity.

Senior Sammy Tamporello (Richardson, Texas/L.V. Berkner), senior Eric Schwebach (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) and sophomore Jim Fisher (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) were also key contributors to keep the Irish at bay, while sophomores Brent Rohrer (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield Catholic) and Rob Strachan (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) shared time in the midfield and helped OSU keep possession numerous times.

"This all started with a 'first-ever' when we won the 2000 Big Ten Championship," Cook said. "We had another first ever this year when we won a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, and now two weeks in a row we've had 'first-evers' with two NCAA tournament wins. Now we're in the Sweet 16 and we have a lot of confidence. This is nice, but we have unfinished business."



-- Courtesy Ohio State University