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Men’s Soccer: No. 1 Notre Dame defeats No. 18 Michigan State

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In a repeat of last season’s NCAA Championship second-round matchup, the No. 1 Irish traveled to No. 18 Michigan State on Tuesday and came home with a 2-0 win.
Much like last season’s 3-0 playoff victory over the Spartans (9-4-3), Notre Dame (10-1-5) has a lot riding on the line.
“It was a very important win for us,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “[Michigan State] is a high RPI team in our region. It will help our RPI from here on out, because we beat a very good ranked team on the road.”
After a first half without scoring, the Irish netted two goals in quick succession midway through the second half to take a 2-0 lead they never relinquished. Senior captain and forward Harrison Shipp scored his team-high seventh goal of season in the 60th minute. Only 37 seconds later, junior forward Vince Cicciarelli gave the Irish a two-goal lead and notched his fourth goal on the season. Cicciarelli has scored in the past two games.
“Cicciarelli continues to be a threat to any team he faces,” Clark said. “And Harry Shipp did what he always does. He did an amazing job.”
With 59:37 on the clock, Shipp received a pass from junior midfielder Robby Gallegos at the top of the box and placed a bank shot off the right post into the net to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. With 60:14 on the clock, Cicciarelli, assisted by senior forward Leon Brown and sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan, ripped a shot from eight yards out of the penalty box and beat Spartan sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett to the near post.
“Getting two goals that quick was definitely was a big contributor [to putting away the Spartans], but it was still a contest right up until the end of the game,” Clark said. “We played very well in the second half, and when we got the two goals, it definitely made it hard for them to get back in the game.”
The Irish were unable to get a lot of offense going in the first half, putting only two shots on goal, while Michigan State mustered four. The Irish defense staved off the Spartan attack until the two goals sprung the game open.
“We opened the game very well, actually,” Clark said. “Somehow we got dragged down a little bit. We dropped back too much defensively, maybe. But we came out strong in the second half.”  
Bennett made five saves on the night from 16 Notre Dame shots, while Irish senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall made five saves on 15 shots. It was Wall’s sixth shutout of the season.
The win over the Spartans comes three days after a 3-1 Notre Dame victory away at No. 13 Wake Forest on Saturday. Clark said the travel may have been an issue in the first half but did not affect the Irish overall.
“Every game on our schedule is a problem,” Clark said. “We always create a tough schedule for ourselves. We don’t have one game that we can check in our win column. That was always going to be a challenge, but this team has risen to every challenge it meets.”
The Irish face their final challenge of the regular season as they host ACC foe Pittsburgh on Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.  
Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu