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Spartans handle Fighting Irish in 2-1 victory

October 28, 2009

Notre Dame midfielder Justin Morrow stops after freshman defender Kevin Cope kicks the ball during Wednesday’s game at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. Cope had one assist during the 2-1 Spartan victory over the Fighting Irish.

For the second straight game, sophomore midfielder Cyrus Saydee was the hero of the MSU men’s soccer team.

In Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Notre Dame at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field, Saydee scored the game-winner in the 56th minute to help propel the Spartans past the Irish.

Saydee is riding a three-game goal streak, which includes his game-winner against Michigan on Sunday.

But Saydee said his “best goal so far as a Spartan” came Wednesday, when he overpowered a Notre Dame defender and faked another out of his shoes before scoring the game-winner. And MSU head coach Damon Rensing agreed.

“It was a special goal, and it’s something that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Rensing said. “Doug DeMartin scored some nice goals here, but that was one of the best goals I’ve seen scored here in the last 10 years.”

The Spartans were determined to earn some revenge against Notre Dame, as the Irish easily had their way with the Spartans last season in South Bend, Ind., beating MSU 3-0.

“They took it to us right from the start last year and we didn’t really come to play,” junior midfielder Spencer Thompson said. “They handed us a terrible loss, and we didn’t want it happen again, especially on our home field.”

Both teams came out of the gates hungry, and the first 10 minutes of the game had a breakneck pace.

The Spartans got on the board first in the 15th minute off a corner kick. Freshman defender Kevin Cope went hard to get on the end of the cross into the box, but only was able to get a piece of the ball before getting run over by a Notre Dame defender.

Cope’s flick allowed sophomore defender Stephen Lucianek to get on the end of the ball and head it toward the goal. Sophomore forward Rubin Bega was shielding the goalkeeper and was able to get a touch on the ball to put it into the goal.

But then the Irish stepped up the pressure — recording a handful of chances near the end of the second half and eventually scoring the equalizer in 36th minute to tie the game at 1-1.

“I thought when we scored, we took our foot off the gas and we thought we could rest a bit,” Rensing said.

“They kept pressing and pushing us and got a well-deserved equalizer.”

The Spartans came out in the second half with a bigger sense of urgency and Saydee scored his game-winner just more than 10 minutes into the half.

Saydee dribbled the ball down the left side of the field and was tied up by a Notre Dame defender — barely able to stay on his feet. The referee signaled advantage and Saydee easily dribbled through another defender before firing a shot into the right side netting from just inside the 18-yard box.

“I was really hoping the referee wasn’t going to call it a foul at first because I still had the ball,” Saydee said. “I kept going, and I figured if I lost the ball, he would have called it back. The one defender overplayed it and I cut him and had the shot.”

With only three games left, the Spartans knew a win over Notre Dame drastically would improve their NCAA Tournament résumé.

“Coming into a game like Notre Dame, we needed a win to help get into the NCAA Tournament,” Thompson said. “We came out right from the start and played our hearts out and got the win.”

The Spartans (10-4-1 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) are on a four-game winning streak and will honor lone senior Tim Granaderos in MSU’s last home game of the season at 1 p.m. Sunday against San Diego State.

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