Dec. 7, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In snowy South Bend, Ind., the Michigan State men's soccer team (14-6-3) fell 2-1 to No. 3-seed Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal on Saturday night. Though the Spartans came back with a header from Jay Chapman after a two-goal deficit, they were unable to obtain the equalizer as time expired in the second half.
"It was a great college soccer game," said head coach Damon Rensing. "It was probably what a quarterfinal match should be. Congratulations to Notre Dame on a great effort. I know they'll represent the Great Lakes Region very well in the Final Four and all the best to them. You don't want to give up goals on restarts, but to their credit, it bounced around and they finished it. I never thought this was going to be a one-goal game, so I don't think that was the end. I think the goal that really hurt was the one given up early into the second half. Credit to their kid who made a really nice shot. Their goal hits off the inside of the post and goes in, our shot hits off the outside post and stays out. If you want to look at the difference that was about it.
"As far as our guys, I've never been so proud of a team. Our guys played well tonight from top to bottom. They put everything on the line and played great. The senior class is special and I'm very proud of all of them, not just the ones who played tonight but all six of them. They've been huge in continuing to move this program forward. We took a big step this season with that and they deserve to be recognized for that."
With a trip to the College Cup on the line, both teams came off the starting whistle looking to set a strong pace for the game.
Notre Dame continued setting up strong crosses across the field, but the Spartan defense cleared out early chances from the Irish. Forward Harrison Shipp earned Notre Dame's first opportunity, sending in a target that was just tipped off the hands of Zach Bennett. He quickly followed up with another shot that was saved off the cross bar.
The Spartans began to settle in with solid ball movement to create chances in Notre Dame's territory.
Attempting to try and get numbers forward as Tim Kreutz pushed towards the goal with a strong shot on goal that was picked up by the Irish keeper.
After the Spartan defense cleared out a dangerous opportunity for the Irish, a loose ball from a corner kick was sent in by Evan Panken off a deflection put Notre Dame up 1-0 in the 32nd minute.
Searching for the equalizer before the end of the first half, Kevin Cope was able to get a foot on a great ball sent in off a free kick from Ryan Thelen, but the Notre Dame goalie fell on the ball to keep the Spartans off the board in the first half.
Just three minutes into the second half, the Patrick Hodan shot the second Irish goal into the right post from about 16 yards out to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
As the backline defended the Spartans territory from the Irish attack, MSU regained focus and began to create opportunities in the midfield allowing the ball to be sent forward.
The Spartans relentlessly went after the equalizer, creating drives into the Notre Dame zone as Andrew Herr took a shot that was punched out by the ND keeper to earn an MSU corner kick. Though Chapman was able to get a good foot on the ball, he sent a target just wide of the net.
With under two minutes left in the game, Brent McIntosh crossed a solid ball over to Kreutz who just barely missed the equalizer off the near post.
Michigan State concludes the 2013 season with a 14-6-3 overall record. The Spartans' 14 wins this season set a new program record and sent them to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time since 1968.