Oct 29, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT
No. 5 Notre Dame battled No. 12 Michigan State to a 1-1 draw in the Irish’s final home regular season match on Wednesday night inside a brisk Alumni Stadium.
Michigan State entered the game having allowed just eight goals all season, an average of 0.51 per game. Nevertheless, Notre Dame was able to create plenty chances in the first half, but entered intermission with nothing to show for it. The Irish had seven shots in the half, including five on goal, resulting in a busy period for Spartans goalkeeper Zach Bennett. Vince Cicciarelli was especially active for Notre Dame. The senior forward accounted for three shots in the half and had an apparent goal called back for offsides.
“I thought Vince had a terrific first half,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “He had a lot of success finding the open spaces that we were being given. Matt Habrowski was finding him in those channels very, very well.”
“We played so well in the first half. I thought it was possibly our best opening performance of the season. We really controlled the game start to finish. We kept the game in their half for long periods, but we didn’t get any goals out of it which was disappointing.”
Notre Dame finally broke its scoreless drought in the 55th minute. Patrick Hodan sent a low cross across the mouth of the goal to Evan Panken, whose initial attempt was blocked by Bennett. However, the ball rebounded right to Panken’s feet, and he hammered the ball home to give the Irish the lead. The goal was Panken’s third of the season.
“It was good to see Evan get another goal,” Clark said. “Evan’s always at the back post or somewhere in the box. He’s just got a nose for the goal.”
Notre Dame largely controlled the match’s tempo in the immediate minutes following the goal, but it wasn’t long before the tide shifted to Michigan State. The Spartans began possessing the ball with ease and peppering Irish keeper Patrick Wall with shots. It seemed to be inevitable that the Spartans tally a goal of their own. Sure enough, in the 79th minute, Spartans forward Tim Kreutz banged in a deflection by Wall, knotting the score at one. The game remained tied at the end of regulation.
“It was funny, we scored, and actually played well for a bit after,” Clark said. “Then they brought on a second forward and I thought we lost our grip on the game for a little bit until they got their goal.”
The first overtime was largely uneventful for both squads aside from a few golden opportunities. Jay Chapman and Adam Montague, arguably Michigan State’s most dangerous offensive pair, each had breakaways stuffed by Wall. Notre Dame had its own prime chance in the last minute of the period. Jeffrey Farina sent a cross to Luke Mishu, whose header was snagged by a leaping Bennett. Opportunities were even scarcer in the second overtime, and the match ended in a draw.
“It was just disappointing not to pick up three points, but full marks to Michigan State,” Clark said. “They are a very good team, one of the best teams in this region. It was always going to be a difficult game.”
The Irish will conclude regular season play at Pittsburgh on Saturday at 7:00 PM. Notre Dame will clinch the ACC regular season title with a victory.
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