Oct. 23, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 16
#12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4-2) vs. #9 Michigan State (11-2-2)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The final nonconference game of the 2017 regular season has arrived for the Notre Dame men’s soccer team. A Tuesday night matchup between the Irish and Michigan State is set for 7 p.m. (ET) in East Lansing, Michigan, on Big Ten Network.
No. 12 Notre Dame (9-4-2) has compiled a 6-2 record in nonconference play thus far this season, which included a 1-0 win at UConn on Sept. 2. The Irish most recently battled No. 15 Duke to a scoreless draw last Friday on Senior Night at Alumni Stadium.
No. 9 Michigan State (11-2-2) is in search of its first win over Notre Dame at home since 2009. The Irish most recently downed the Spartans 4-0 at DeMartin Soccer Complex on Sept. 22, 2015.
Irish And Duke Battle To 0-0 Draw
After dominating the final 65 minutes of play at nearly every end of the field, Notre Dame was left looking for a game-winning goal. A furious Irish onslaught in the second half was countered by equally brilliant Duke defense and goalkeeping, and the teams finished a hard-fought scoreless draw Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
No. 12 Notre Dame bounced back from an early 3-1 deficit in shots to No. 15 Duke to control the game the rest of the night, outshooting the Blue Devils by an impressive 16-4 margin for the remainder of the game. The Irish also dominated in corner kicks 13-4, and limited Duke to a lone shot on goal after halftime.
The last four meetings between Notre Dame and Duke, dating back to 2015, have been settled in overtime. The Irish had won two of the last three in bonus soccer against the Blue Devils, with Friday’s result marking the first tie game in series history.
Irish Stellar At Home In 2017
Notre Dame’s 0-0 draw with No. 15 Duke on Friday officially capped a 6-1-2 campaign for the Irish in the 2017 regular season at Alumni Stadium. The final two Notre Dame games of the regular season are at No. 9 Michigan State and at No. 4 North Carolina.
Notre Dame outscored opponents by a 15-6 aggregate goal count in its nine starts at home this season, outshooting the opposition 153-74 (57-25 in shots on goal). Key home results along with the scoreless tie with Duke included a 3-0 ACC win over NC State on Sept. 15, a 1-1 draw with No. 10 Virginia on Sept. 29, and a 3-1 victory against No. 24 Michigan on Oct. 10.
Notre Dame Debuts In 2017
A total of three players have made their first career appearances for Notre Dame during the 2017 season, joining the roster of official all-time competitors in the process. Defenders Spencer Farina and Senan Farrelly and forward John Rea have each made their Irish debuts during the regular season.
Farina has seen action in the past two games against Akron and Duke for Notre Dame as a substitute at right back. Farina and older brother, Jeff, joined Sean and Kyle Dedrick as active siblings with career games played on the Irish roster. Farrelly has played in seven games with four starts, three at center back and one at right back. Rea put in a pair of brief but impactful shifts on the Notre Dame front line after a standout preseason for the Irish attack.
Irish In The RPI
In the fourth release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame was slotted seventh in the week four rankings. The Irish have faced the second-hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 23, leading into Tuesday’s game at No. 8 Michigan State.
Notre Dame has compiled a 3-3-2 record against teams in the current top 25 of the RPI this season. The Irish defeated No. 4 Clemson 2-1 on Oct. 6, No. 17 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10, and No. 24 San Diego 2-0 on Aug. 25. Notre Dame has added draws with No. 3 Duke (0-0) last Friday and No. 9 Virginia (1-1) on Sept. 29.
Through 15 games, Notre Dame ranks second in the NCAA in terms of the quality of its wins. The nine Irish wins in 2017 have occurred against an average opponent’s RPI of 59, second only in Division I men’s soccer to fellow ACC member Duke (55). The ACC remains the far and away top-ranked conference in the league RPI standings this season, with seven members rated among the top 10 in the country as of Oct. 23.
Irish Against the Big Ten
Leading in to Tuesday’s showdown at Michigan State, Notre Dame is 70-66-23 (.513) against the current nine teams that comprise the Big Ten men’s soccer membership.
Notre Dame has had the most success against Michigan State (16-6-6), which has included a 5-4-4 record in games played in East Lansing. Notre Dame has been victorious in its last three trips to Michigan State, by an aggregate goal margin of 7-0.
The Irish have added a 14-5-5 mark against Northwestern (Notre Dame won 2-1 on Oct. 3) and a 12-2-3 record versus Michigan (Notre Dame won 3-1 on Oct. 10).
Scouting Michigan State
Michigan State enters Tuesday’s game with an 11-2-2 record, most recently defeating Northwestern 2-0 on Friday in Evanston, Illinois. The Spartans dropped their most recent nonconference matchup, a 1-0 decision to West Virginia on Oct. 11 in Morgantown.
Head coach Damon Rensing is 101-60-24 (.611) in his ninth season at the helm of Michigan State. Rensing has guided the Spartans to six NCAA Championship berths during his tenure, and Michigan State reached the NCAA Quarterfinal round in both 2013 and 2014.
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.