EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State men’s soccer team played dead-even with the No. 1 team in the nation Tuesday for all but one minute.
The Spartans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish played 89 minutes even, but one minute was the difference in this top 25 clash. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Notre Dame scored two goals in under a minute.
“We’re disappointed in the result,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “This is a program that doesn’t take any solace in losing games and playing well. We’re not happy with the result. If you break the game down into pieces I thought we were very good for 85 minutes of the game and I thought there were spells we were clearly the better team on the day and there were spells where they were clearly the better team.”
One of the top forwards in the country, Harrison Shipp, placed a scorching shot from the top of the box into the right corner of the goal off the upright in 59th minute. Shipp scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season on an assist from junior midfielder Robby Gallegos.
“(Shipp) was special, he made an individual play that put them up 1-0 and I was disappointed in how we responded in the next few minutes,” Rensing said. “It’s common that after a goal, the next few minutes are so important and we didn’t quite respond, which is uncharacteristic of this team.”
The Spartans did not respond well and allowed the Irish to score again 37 seconds later during Michigan State’s most vulnerable point in the match. Notre Dame forward Vince Cicciarelli quickly scored his fourth goal of the season off an open shot from the left side that fell into the right corner of the goal. Irish senior forward Leon Brown and sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan assisted on Notre Dame’s second goal of the afternoon.
“I think the (first) goal kind of caught them off guard,” Rensing said. “It wasn’t with the flow of the game and I think that caught them, and again we just didn’t respond the way we needed to. If you just get through the next five minutes and not give anything up, if they’re jump(ing), if they’re excited or whatever, you’re usually ok again. Then the game settles back down and you got 25 minutes to get the tie, but we didn’t do that today.”
Other than the one-minute stretch, the game was quite even. Both goalkeepers were forced to make five saves. Notre Dame led with 16 shots while Michigan State tallied 15 on the afternoon. Fouls were quite even as well, as the Spartans were called for 11 and Notre Dame was stopped for eight.
“We said we thought we played with them for 87 minutes and we let up for three minutes, let in two goals and that’s something we can’t do against the No. 1 team in the nation,” Michigan State forward Tim Kreutz said. “They’re going to punish you. Thought we were up to the challenge today and we just let off for those three minutes, but other than that we played pretty well.”
· Michigan State is now:
· Overall: 9-4-3
· Conference: 2-2-1
· Home: 5-3-1
· Away: 4-1-2
Jonathan Yales is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever