Sept. 27, 2009

Courtesy of Ohio State

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Sam Scales scored his first goal of the season to lead the Ohio State men's soccer team  to a 1-0 win over No. 21 Michigan State in a hard-fought and physical match Sunday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium. The win gives Ohio State its best start in program history as it remains unbeaten through eight games at 5-0-3, while the Spartans fall to 4-2-1.

The loss is the first to a conference team for the defending Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions on its home field since Nov. 4, 2007, when the Buckeyes defeated the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament. That match also stands as the last true road win for Ohio State until Sunday - a stretch of eight games.

"Any Big Ten win is a battle," head coach John Bluem said. "It was hard fought and I think we need to learn that that is how it's going to be. When you take a 1-0 lead, the other team is going to do anything they can to get back into the game."

Ohio State is now 14-4-0 in Big Ten openers, including an 11-2-0 mark under head Bluem, and has won each of the last four meetings with MSU.

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Lampson was stellar between the pipes Sunday, stopping all four shots on goal and making several key defensive plays on route to securing his third-consecutive shutout. The Hilliard, Ohio, native has not given up a goal in 322:19 of game action.

With the momentum going in favor of Ohio State, Scales put the Buckeyes on the board with his second career goal, first this season, midway through the 18th minute. He started the play on a throw-in, which MSU defender Kevin Cope headed out of the box directly back to the feet of the junior midfielder near the far right side of penalty area. Scales' shot was a rocket to the opposite back post.

The Buckeye offensive pressure did not let up, as Konrad Warzycha got a header off that hit the post just a couple minutes later, ending a scramble inside the goal box.

Ohio State held a 9-5 advantage in shots on the half, especially down the stretch. The Spartans took three shots in the opening five minutes of play, but the Buckeye defense - anchored by David Tiemstra and Doug Verhoff in the middle - did not allow another Spartan attempt for nearly 20 minutes. Lampson made one of two impressive saves of the period to stop the shot by Rubin Bega and preserve the 1-0 lead.

Coming out of the half with the lead, Ohio State had a couple good looks to start the period, but spent much of the first 15 minutes on defense as the Spartans stepped up their attack. Jeff Ricondo's shot skimmed the net outside the right post in the 55th minute with what would stand as one of the strongest scoring opportunity of the match to that point.

Dalton Summers blocked a shot in the box and Lampson stayed strong defensively as the Spartans posted four-consecutive shots through the middle portion of the period.

Ohio State almost doubled its lead in the 73rd minute when Chris Hegngi received a through-ball in the penalty area but sent the shot wide right. Physical play on both sides of the ball ensued, as five yellow cards were awarded in the final 14 minutes.

Michigan State had a couple close calls on the equalizer in the waning minutes, including a cross by Tim Granaderos that skipped along the crossbar with 20 seconds to play.

UP NEXT: The Buckeyes return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against top-ranked Akron at Lee Jackson Field in Akron, Ohio. The Zips are 7-0-0 after a 6-0 win against Bowling Green Saturday. They have out-scored opponents, 18-1, in the last five games and have allowed just one goal through seven contests in 2009, shutting out each of the last four foes.