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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame staves off late Michigan State push to close 2-1 victory

| Monday, September 4, 2023

Notre Dame women’s soccer picked up its third win of 2023 on Sunday, dispatching Michigan State 2-1 in East Lansing.

The Irish started off the match strong, striking in just the 10th minute. Senior forward Ellie Ospeck found the back of the net, finishing off a pinpoint cross from sophomore midfielder Leah Klenke.

Ospeck would get on the scoresheet once again in the second half, this time creating a goal instead of scoring. Her well-weighted pass in transition found the foot of graduate student forward Maddie Mercado, who finished off the move to double Notre Dame’s lead.

The goal and assist continued a strong run of form for Ospeck, who now has five points in her last two matches. It’s an especially notable stat given the senior had just one point in Notre Dame’s first three games. After the game, Irish head coach Nate Norman applauded Ospeck’s season-opening play.

“Throughout this whole season she’s created chances,” Norman said. “I think she’s been able to calm herself and relax the last couple games. I think she could have had at least two today, which was great to see… she’s got so much pace, so much willingness to run. She’ll continue to get in the box [and] get those chances. It’s good to see her getting in a rhythm here.”

Michigan State did make a late push, firing off four of its eight shots in the contest’s final 20 minutes. The Spartans did eventually bring themselves within one, courtesy of a late Jordyn Wickes header. But the Irish eventually staved off one final barrage, heading back to South Bend victors.

Between Sunday’s contest against the Spartans and last week’s home tangle with Arkansas, Notre Dame has now finished back-to-back matchups against teams that advanced in last season’s NCAA tournament. Both squads figure to be players in the national tournament once again in 2023. Norman remarked that playing difficult out-of-conference opponents is crucial as the Irish prepare for a tough ACC slate of matches.

“I think our conference is just such a gauntlet. You have to have these battles to help you learn about yourself,” said Norman. “What are the things you can be great at, what are the things you need to grow in? All these games are doing that for us, and every game we’ve gotten a little bit better.” 

The Irish will now head back to South Bend for the first of two final games on their non-conference slate. Notre Dame will host a Michigan side (2-1-2) that has plenty of quality – the Wolverines won the Big Ten as recently as 2021 – but has struggled for consistent results this fall. Michigan has played its best soccer as of late though, entering Thursday on a two-match winning streak.

The match is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Alumni Stadium and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a senior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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