Crew Cuts: In memory
With the Crew (0-2-4) in the midst of such a rough stretch of injuries, mistakes and bad luck, it's nice to have something positive to write about this week. But even the Connor Senn Memorial Match has its roots in a sad story.
In September 2001, Senn was a walk-on freshman with the Ohio State men's soccer team. Within three matches, the Granville graduate had worked his way into the starting lineup of a team that returned most of the key players from the previous season's Big Ten championship.
The future looked bright for Senn. But during a match at Akron on Sept. 26, 2001, the young defender collapsed. Within hours, he was dead from an undetected congenital heart defect.
"It was devastating," Ohio State soccer coach John Bluem remembered. Nevertheless, the team played out the season in honor of their fallen teammate.
The next year, Bluem sought a way to honor Senn. Since 1998, the Buckeyes had been playing the Crew each spring to memorialize late Obetz police officer Keith Evans. Bluem asked the Crew to schedule a different opponent for the Evans memorial so that the club and the university could square off in Senn's tribute.
The Crew agreed, so for the past eight years the teams have faced off each spring to raise money for the Connor Senn Memorial Scholarship Fund.
"The first year it really wasn't anything except for the game," Bluem said. "I think we drew about 600 or 700 people. It was a miserably cold night."
The following year, Dave Tumbas, a Senn family friend, offered to help organize the event. It has since grown steadily in size and scope; last year's match raised $30,000. This year's event will feature a silent auction with OSU, Crew and U.S. soccer memorabilia. Commemorative T-shirts and scarves will be on sale too.
"It's become a part of our program, and a part of Ohio State soccer," Bluem said. "Our guys all appreciate the meaning of the game."
Bluem's team also appreciates an off-season test against the MLS champs. For the fans, it's a chance to see the Crew's first team up close and get a whiff of the reserves in action in the second half.
"The Crew players also play the game with a great spirit," Bluem said. "If they really wanted to play hard they could probably beat us really easily and punish us. I think they recognize what's going on. They play at a good attractive level. They put on a good show for their fans."
What's next for the Crew?
Before next week's Connor Senn Memorial Match, Columbus travels north this Saturday to visit Toronto F.C. The winless Crew, which has blown leads in three straight home matches, hopes to fare better at the famously rowdy BMO Field. Watch the match on ONN.
For more Crew Cuts, click to the Sensory Overload blog at ColumbusAlive.com
Connor Senn Memorial Match: Columbus Crew vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 5
Where: Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, Campus