Nov. 5, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 18 Michigan State men's soccer team fell to No. 1 Notre Dame, 2-0 on Tuesday at DeMartin Stadium. In the final non-conference game of the season, the match was played fairly evenly, but the Fighting Irish (10-1-5) took advantage of two opportunities within 40-seconds of each other midway through the second half to claim the victory. The Spartans are now 9-4-3 on the season.
"It doesn't matter who we play, we're disappointed when we lose," said head coach Damon Rensing. "We were disappointed with the result. I think if you break the game down, for 85 minutes we played them dead even where we had spells where we were the better team and they had some spells where they were. For 85 minutes, we played very well and a dead even game against the No. 1 ranked team in the country. Credit goes to their No. 10 who made a special play. I think we have to learn to respond after the goal a little bit. But other than that, I told the guys that they can take this a few ways. You can know that for 85 minutes you played very well, but at the end of the day you have to take some of the mistakes, learn from them and move on."
Both teams set a fast pace right from the start, with attacking possession on either side of the ball. MSU earned an early chance when Tim Kreutz got a long feed in from Ryan Keener and sent an early shot just wide of the net less than two minutes into the match. The Fighting Irish leading scorer Harrison Shipp sent two back-to-back shots wide of the net within a minute of each other. MSU continued to battle with Notre Dame for possession leading to another opportunity for Kreutz that was saved by the Irish keeper.
MSU showed solid ball movement to create opportunities and for the Notre Dame defense to keep any attempts off the scoreboard.
Midway through the first half, Michigan State had its biggest chance when Kyle Rutz passed a cross over to Brent McIntosh who shot a bullet from the top of the box, forcing the Notre Dame goalkeeper to dive and keep it of the goal. The Irish offensive continued to attack the net, forcing Bennett to dive for some major saves for the Spartans over the final minutes of the initial stanza.
In the first half, Bennett held off nine shots by six different Notre Dame players. On the offensive side, Kreutz recorded three of the Spartans four shots in the first half.
To open up the second half, Keener was in the right place to block a shot from the top of the key. Michigan State continued to put pressure on the Fighting Irish as Rutz shot back-to-back targets at the Notre Dame goal, but neither landing in the net.
Shipp didn't let up, keeping the pressure and eventually getting Notre Dame on the board. He sent in a strike from 18-yards out, assisted by Robby Gallegos, that was put off the right post into the net in the 59th-minute. A mere 36-seconds later, Vince Cicciarelli added a second ND goal, off an assist from Leon Brown and Patrick Hodan, that beat Bennett inside the right post.
The Spartans attempted to answer as Ryan Thelen sent a free kick just over the cross bar with just over 25 minutes left in the game. Jerome Cristobal earned two-straight opportunities for MSU, but they were blocked and saved by the Irish defense. With under 10 minutes left in the game, McIntosh sent in a header that required the ND keeper to step up with a big save. The Spartans relentlessly tried to put a goal in the net as Dewey Lewis and Thelen shot two targets that were blocked by the ND defense.
Rutz continued the pressure, but his attempt was sent over and down the back of the net. With just over two minutes left, Jay Chapman created a dangerous shot off some solid ball movement but was again saved in the Irish keepers hands.
Michigan State will be back in action to host in-state rival Michigan on Senior Day at DeMartin Stadium. The game is set for Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network (paid subscription necessary).