On Tuesday, Michigan State looked to finish their five-game homestand with a winning record, while No. 14 Notre Dame were searching for a way to snap their two-game losing streak. The Irish were able to defeat the Spartans 4-0, giving MSU a 2-2-1 record for the homestand and a 3-3-1 overall record (0-0-1 in the Big Ten).
Roughly two minutes into Tuesday’s match, a cross from Notre Dame’s Jon Gallagher found Max Lachowecki wide open in the middle of the box with a diving header to give the Irish an early 1-0 lead.
“First goal maybe two minutes in…not the way you want to start a game,” MSU goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “They got down the line pretty easily and they crossed it in, I think [Zach] Carroll might have slipped and then we lost our man in the box…the guy had a pretty good header on it and hit it back post.”
Twelve minutes later, Gallagher was able to make a run into the box and put a shot on Bennett. With a fortunate bounce off of Bennett’s save on the initial shot, Gallagher was able to corral the ball for a second shot, resulting in a goal.
“We started to settle in a little bit and then they got us on the counter and it was 2-0,” MSU head coach, Damon Rensing, said.
A struggling offense for the Spartans could not put their first shot on goal until the 17th minute.
In the 40th minute, MSU’s Connor Corrigan was able to send a ball into the box off of a free kick, barely missing the head of DeJuan Jones streaking toward the goal.
Bennett did not put the blame on the offense.
“Today we’re down 2-0 before anyone can get any kind of rhythm. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.”
Before Michigan State could capitalize on any of their opportunities and make it a one-goal game, Notre Dame struck again two minutes before halftime. Notre Dame’s Connor Klekota sent a through ball to Thomas Ueland to bury the shot just to the right of the reach of Bennett.
“We started to play a little bit better again, thinking ‘hey we’re in this,’ and then right before half (they scored),” Rensing said.
MSU looked to make a dent in Notre Dame’s 3-0 lead, with their first chance coming only three minutes into the second half. Jones sent a cross into the box, but the ball could not find the head or feet of any Spartans.
In the 55th minute, the ‘Luck of the Irish’ struck again with an own goal by MSU’s Gallagher after a shot redirected off of him past a shocked Bennett.
“The fourth goal was just unfortunate…that happens to some of the best players in the world,” Rensing said. “That made it hard to rebound, but we’re going to have to be better.”
What was possibly MSU’s closest chance at a goal came in the 87th minute, as a shot was taken near the top of the box; the ball began to dip right below the crossbar, but the Notre Dame goalie was able to leap and punch the ball over the net.
Michigan State finished the game tied with Notre Dame in shots at 12, but MSU had the edge in corner kicks. It is the third game in a row where MSU has been held scoreless.
“You can look at the shots, there’s only one stat that I look at…the score,” Rensing said, “When they have four and we have zero, that’s the only stat that matters.”
Michigan State takes on Rutgers in their second Big Ten match of the season this Friday in New Jersey. Rutgers’ last match was a 4-1 win against Indiana, who was ranked #22 when they played. Rutgers is 3-2-1 overall (1-1-0 in the Big Ten) and 1-1-0 at home this season.