Fighters fight, and Michigan State fought until the final whistle in their Elite Eight match against Providence College.
“The guys wanted this day and this game so much,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “I think when you look at the five goals scored, these are five incredible goals.”
The Spartans jumped out to an early lead in the eighth minute of the game off a nice passing combination in which redshirt senior forward, Tim Kreutz, found junior midfielder, Jay Chapman, at the top of the box who slipped a through ball to senior forward, Adam Montague, who curled his shot around redshirt senior goalkeeper, Keasel Broome, to give Michigan State the early 1-0 lead.
“It was just a nice sequence of passes,” Montague said. “Jay was on the top of the box and they kind of found a gap between the center backs and I slipped past and I was fortunate enough to tuck it away on the right side.”
For the next 29 minutes, both team would go back and forth and have multiple scoring chances, but in the 37th minute, the Friars would capitalize off a throw-in in Michigan State’s final third as freshman midfielder, Daniel Neustadter, would receive a ball at the top of the box and would strike a shot into the upper right corner of the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
“I think we got a little anxious trying to get that second goal early in the first half and the game got a little stretched, and I think that played into Providence’s hands a little bit,” Rensing said.
Providence would be on the attack five minutes later and they would convert on another chance, this time off a crossed ball from the endline tinto the six-yard-box, in which the Spartans would block, but the rebound would be collected by sophomore midfielder, Dominik Machado, who would easily tap the ball in to give the Friars a 2-1 lead.
“I know it was a good link of a play from Fabio [Machado],” Machado said. “I know Fabio was endline [and] he has a way of getting the ball in at times so I just made my run and saw it in the back of the net.”
Coming out of the second half, both team got into a back and forth game and in the 61st minute, the Spartans would earn a free kick 35 yards out from the Providence goal.
Sophomore midfielder, Dewey Lewis, would hit a curling ball to the top of the six-yard-box and redshirt senior defender, Ryan Keener, would just miss getting on the end of it.
The Friars would strike a minute later as a pass from senior defender, Thomas Ballenthin, would find senior forward, Fabio Machado, and Machado would dribble past a few Michigan State defenders and strike a curling shot from the top of the box into the upper left corner of the goal to give Providence a 3-1 lead.
“Just a world class goal,” head coach Craig Stewart said. “He’s very good coming inside on the dribble and he just saw an opportunity and just struck it real well.”
Down by two goals, the Spartans began to push guys forward and eight minutes later, redshirt sophomore defender, Jerome Cristobal, would find Kreutz at the top of the box, who would then find Chapman who would take a few touches and slip the ball past Broome to make the game 3-2.
Michigan State would continue to push forward and hit balls forward, and Chapman would get in a strike inside the box off a long throw from Lewis, but his volley would be hit straight at Broome.
With eight minutes left in the game, Michigan State would go on the attack again as a Michigan State player would play a through ball to Montague in the box and he would poke it just past the far post.
“Defensively it’s organization,” Broome said. “Stay compact because we knew going off the first goal that they would try and slip in balls between our outside backs and our center backs.”
The Spartans would not get another good look at goal and the Friars would hold onto their 3-2 lead as the final whistle blew.
Providence will play the winner of North Carolina and UCLA next Friday in the College Cup in Cary, North Carolina.
Michigan State finished their season with an overall record of 12-5-6. Their third-straight season with 10 or more wins.