Oct. 25, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - In its first true offensive surge of the match, Michigan State made the most of the trip into the University of Notre Dame defensive third. A converted header by Michael Beckett in the 74th minute sent the visiting Spartans to a 1-0 nonconference soccer win over the Irish on a chilly Tuesday night at Alumni Stadium.
Despite controlling the run of play for the majority of its fourth consecutive match, No. 12 Notre Dame (10-5-1) was again held without a result. The Irish outshot No. 13 Michigan State by a final 8-5 margin, including 5-3 in the second half, and fell for the first time this season at Alumni Stadium (6-1-1).
Notre Dame remained the more dangerous of the two teams throughout the first half, although no official shots on goal were tallied during the opening 45 minutes of play. Jon Gallagher had a testy flick header off a service that carried wide of the left post in the 14th minute, and Mark Gormley saw a long try from the top of the 18-yard box sail wide of the left post in the 25th minute.
The Irish maintained offensive control of possession for large stretches early in the second half, when a great try in the 51st minute by Jack Casey was saved by Michigan State goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. The Spartans responded with one of their two shots on goal of the night in the 56th minute, as a header by Jimmy Fiscus was saved by Chris Hubbard.
After Hubbard exited the game due to injury in the 59th minute, Michigan State was then able to find the game-winning goal. A strong run up field to leading Spartan goal scorer Ryan Sierakowski allowed the Michigan State striker to find space up the right flank in the tail end of the 73rd minute. A right-footed cross in front to Beckett was headed home past Notre Dame keeper Ryan Krutz at 73:04 for Beckett's first goal of the year and a 1-0 Michigan State lead.
Notre Dame pushed the pace looking for the equalizer over the final 15 plus minutes, with four shot attempts unable to find the back of the net. Hague logged saves on shots by Gormley in the 84th minute and Gallagher in the 88th minute to preserve the clean sheet.
Notre Dame closes the 2016 regular season on Friday against No. 3 North Carolina as part of the program's Senior Night celebration. The 7 p.m. (ET) match will air live on ACC Network Extra from Alumni Stadium.
Play of the Game
The Notre Dame defensive corps, comprised of outside backs Sean Dedrick and tri-captain Michael Shipp and center backs Brandon Aubrey and tri-captain Matt Habrowski, covered significant ground on both ends of the field to limit Michigan State to five total shots and only two true scoring chances. Tri-captain Evan Panken, Oliver Harris, Tommy McCabe, Blake Townes and Jack Casey did a similar job from the midfield in preventing Michigan State from comfortably encroaching into the Notre Dame defensive third.
Forward Jeffrey Farina returned from an eight-game absence due to injury and saw a solid 29 minutes back on the pitch in his first match appearance since Sept. 16 at Louisville.
Note of the Game
Notre Dame outshot its fourth straight opponent by finishing with an 8-5 edge in the shots column against Michigan State. During the four-match shot advantage stretch (52-32), the Irish also hold a 21-13 margin in shots on goal.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men's soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.