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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

Hot start buoys Irish over Spartans

The Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team went up to East Lansing and beat the Michigan State Spartans 3-2 on Monday night to pick up their first win of the 2022 season. It was a huge bounce back from their disappointing loss to Seattle in their opener at Alumni Stadium.

No. 4 Notre Dame used a dominant first half to pull ahead of the Spartans and take a lead they would never relinquish. Right from kick-off, the Irish controlled possession and kept Michigan State on their heels with a few early shots trapping the Spartans in their defending third.

The Irish found their opener in the 19th minute through junior defender Paddy Burns. The goal came from a set piece as sophomore Matthew Roou took a free kick near the corner flag and crossed a ball into the box. The in-swinging cross found junior striker Daniel Russo at the near post, but from there a scrum ensued in front of the Spartans’ net. The ball eventually fell to sophomore midfielder Bryce Boneau who sent it back into the six-yard box where Burns was waiting to head it into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 1-0.

It was Burns’ first goal of the season and the fourth of his career. The assist was the first of Boneau’s Irish career after the Texan missed his freshman season due to injury. Boneau had also drawn the yellow-card challenge that initially led to Roou’s free-kick into the box. 

Just three minutes later, Notre Dame capitalized on their early momentum as they doubled their lead through freshman Sebastian Green. The midfielder leaped highest of all to win another header in the six-yard box to convert a cross from sophomore defender Kyle Genenbacher into Notre Dame’s second goal of the night.

After the two quick goals, the action settled down following some Michigan State substitutions that stemmed the tide. In all, Notre Dame outshot Michigan State 14-3 in the first half as they dominated proceedings in the early going.

The Spartans came out of the half playing much better and in the 51st minute, Michigan State striker Jake Spadafora sent a looping header toward the top right corner of the goal that forced a spectacular save from Irish goalkeeper Bryan Dowd to keep it 2-0.

Shortly after, the Irish made it 3-0 as an ill-fated attempt at a backheel clearance from MSU defender Elijah Howe turned into an own goal. Again, it was Genenbacher wreaking havoc as his header off a Wyatt Borso corner led to the misplay from Howe.

In the later stages of the game, Michigan St. made things interesting for Notre Dame. In the 75th minute, they drew a penalty which midfielder Jack Beck converted to make it 3-1. With a little over five minutes remaining the Spartans found a second goal through midfielder Vedad Kovac to keep their hopes of a comeback alive. Ultimately, the late effort wasn’t enough for the Spartans as Howe’s own goal proved decisive and Notre Dame held on to win 3-2 on the road.

The win was Notre Dame’s fifth consecutive road triumph against Michigan State, a streak dating back to 2011.