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Spartans men's soccer falls to Notre Dame despite strong performance

Michigan State men's soccer lose 1-0 after good play takes game down to the wire

September 25, 2019
Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Patrick Coleman (20) and junior midfielder Michael Miller (18) fight for a header during the game at DeMartin field on September 24, 2019. The Spartans lost to the Fighting Irish 0-1.
Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Patrick Coleman (20) and junior midfielder Michael Miller (18) fight for a header during the game at DeMartin field on September 24, 2019. The Spartans lost to the Fighting Irish 0-1. —
Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

Michigan State men’s soccer (0-5-2) looked to snap their four-game losing streak against a No. 16 Notre Dame (4-2-0) Tuesday night, but fell at the hands of a goal in the final minutes of the game. 

After one of the most cohesive games for this young Spartan team, they were unable to capitalize on their attacks, resulting in another 1-0 loss.

The loss came with a strong Spartan performance and Head Coach Damon Rensing thinks they can take the positives out of this as they enter Big Ten play.

“I think anytime you play a team like Notre Dame, who’s got good ball tempo and you have to defend quickly and also attack quickly, your speed of play jumps. So our speed of play should be ready for a good Friday night organized Rutgers team,” Rensing said.

The first half was a grudge match. Both the Spartans and the Irish came out physical and looking to score. The Spartans' underclassmen came out swinging. Through the first 45 minutes the green and white took six shots, five of which came off the foot of an underclassman.  

The Spartans saw several good opportunities to score in the first half, two of which were on goal and came early, just under 11 minutes in. One was off the foot of sophomore forward Farai Mutatu, the other seconds later by redshirt sophomore midfielder Alex Shterenberg. 

Late in the half the Spartans were aided by defensive stops from senior defenseman Michael Wetungu, who kept the Irish from making advances on the goal more than once.

Although the opportunities were there, on both sides, the scoreboard remained at zero through the first half.

In the second half, Notre Dame came at the Spartans throat from the start. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Morse kept the Irish out of the net with a diving save with 40 minutes left. The Irish stayed at the necks of the Spartans well into the second half, constantly threatening with shots and attacks, yet only saw two total shots on goal through the first 60 minutes.

The tone began to shift with just under 30 minutes remaining, as the Spartans began to put together good offensive possessions and keep Notre Dame away from their goal.

Once Notre Dame got back near Michigan State’s goal, Morse was able to deliver again with a save from a shot close to the net from Notre Dame’s junior midfielder Aiden McFadden.

Every time the Irish would threaten, Michigan State would respond with an attack of their own. The Spartans were moving their offense quickly against this ranked opponent, constantly creating opportunities on the move and pushing the ball at a fast pace.

With just 15 minutes remaining, the ball was rarely stagnant. One team or the other was on the attack the entire game.

It would be Notre Dame’s freshman midfielder Michael Pellegrino who would break the game open with his first career goal with just over ten minutes left in the contest. The score would come on a second chance shot, as the one prior pulled goalkeeper Morse out from the net. The freshman was able to capitalize, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.

Michigan State was unable to respond. 

Despite getting near the Irish’s net multiple times in the last few minutes of the game, Notre Dame was able to stall the up-tempo Spartan team and get their fourth win.

The final would end similar to most of Michigan State’s games this year. A loss by one goal and a 1-0 finish. Despite the good tempo and play against a current No. 21 Notre Dame team, the Spartans came just short of finding the net and fell at the hands of one second chance play.

The game concluded a two-game home stand for the Spartans, who will travel to Rutgers (6-0-2) on Friday Sept. 27 to start Big Ten play.

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