Oct. 28, 2014
#12 MICHIGAN STATE
(9-3-3, 3-1-2 Big Ten)
#5 NOTRE DAME
(9-4-2, 5-1-1 ACC)
Wednesday, Oct. 29 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – According to the NCAA calculations, the fifth-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team has the nation’s second-toughest schedule this season and the Irish await another stiff test on Wednesday when they welcome No. 12 Michigan State to Alumni Stadium.
The showdown with the Spartans will be Notre Dame’s ninth and final non-conference clash of the regular season. Since they already have a stout Atlantic Coast Conference slate to contend with, it would be easy to forgive the Irish if they packed their non-league ledger with some lesser foes. However, six of Notre Dame’s nine non-conference opponents appear in the latest NSCAA top-25 poll.
The Fighting Irish don’t have to look at the rankings to know that Michigan State is a solid club. Notre Dame and Michigan State have met annually since 2005 and the two teams squared off in the quarterfinals of last season’s NCAA Championship. The Irish claimed a 2-1 victory to advance to the College Cup for the first time in program history and ultimately win the title.
“Michigan State returned most of the guys that played against us last year in the quarterfinals of the NCAAs,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “They’re a team that can go anywhere and do well. They’ve already won at Penn State and last year they went to Georgetown and beat them in the NCAAs. They’re a good team with good players and they’re well coached. They have a lot of experience as well. This will be a good test for us. They do a couple of things differently than a few of the teams we’ve played recently.”
The Fighting Irish are 4-1 in their last five contests and they are coming off a 3-1 home win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. That victory kept Notre Dame in first place in the ACC standings heading into Saturday’s league finale at Pittsburgh.
“For the most part we played very well (against Virginia Tech),” Clark states. “It’s maybe been the story of our season so far in that we could have made it a little easier, but it kept us honest right up until Jon Gallagher got the third goal (in the 88th minute). The result was always in doubt so we had to be very honest throughout the game. I know that’s not good for my gray hairs, but it certainly is good for the team to play the full 90 minutes.”
The Irish topped the Hokies even without half of their usual starting backline. Sophomore central defender Matt Habrowski started his third straight match for the injured Andrew O’Malley. Along with his defensive duties, Habrowski made his presence felt on the offensive end of the pitch against the Hokies as he tallied his first career goal, which gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead midway through the first half.
Junior Michael Shipp earned his first start of the season – and the second of his career – on Saturday as he filled in at left back for Max Lachowecki, who missed the game with an injury after starting the first 14 contests of the season.
“Both Matt Habrowski and Michael Shipp have had to step in and they both have been terrific,” Clark says. “It’s been a reward for both of them. While you never like to see your starters go out, these two boys have worked so hard throughout this season and the offseason. There was no hesitation in putting them in. If a team is going to have a good year you need to have depth within the group.”
THE SPARTAN SERIES
– Wednesday will be the 26th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Michigan State. The Irish lead the series 15-5-5 and they have won the last five showdowns with the Spartans.
– The Fighting Irish bested the Spartans twice last season. Notre Dame won at Michigan State, 2-0, in the regular season and then topped the Spartans, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament at Alumni Stadium.
– Notre Dame has outscored Michigan State 10-1 in the last five meetings.
– Michigan State’s last win over the Irish was a 2-0 decision in 2010 at Notre Dame. The Irish are 11-1-1 at home versus the Spartans.
– Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark is 9-3-1 all-time against Michigan State.
A LOOK AT MICHIGAN STATE
– Michigan State is 9-3-3 overall and 3-1-2 in Big Ten Conference play. The Spartans are averaging 1.27 goals per game, while surrendering 0.53 per contest. Michigan State has posted 10 shutouts.
– Jason Stacy (Jr./M) and Zach Carroll (Jr./D) both have a team-best four goals. Stacy has team-high marks for assists (6) and points (14). Junior Zach Bennett has every decision in goal. He carries a 0.51 goals-against average and a .852 save percentage.
– Last season, the Spartans went 14-6-3 (3-2-1 Big Ten) and fell at Notre Dame, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
– Head coach Damon Rensing is in his sixth season at the helm of the Spartan program.
THE LAST TIME
– Notre Dame advanced to the College Cup for the first time in program history with a 2-1 home win over Michigan State in the quarterfinals of last season’s NCAA tournament.
– Evan Panken put the Irish up 1-0 in the 31st minute and Patrick Hodan pushed the lead to two in the opening minutes of the second half. Michigan State’s Jay Chapman scored in the 59th minute.
– Patrick Wall made four saves for the Irish, while Zach Bennett had one stop for the Spartans.
BATTLING THE BIG TEN
– Wednesday’s showdown with Michigan State will be Notre Dame’s fourth and final encounter with a Big Ten Conference foe in October. Notre Dame opened the stretch with a 3-2 setback at Michigan, but responded with a 1-0 win over Northwestern. The Irish fell at Indiana, 1-0, last Wednesday.
– The Irish went 5-0-1 against Big Ten opposition last season. That included wins over Wisconsin (4-0) and Michigan State (2-1) in the NCAA tournament.
IRISH GETTING OFFENSIVE IN ACC PLAY
– Notre Dame has combined to score 10 goals in its last three ACC games. The Irish bested Louisville 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 10 and then captured a 4-1 win at Duke on Oct. 17. Notre Dame topped Virginia Tech 3-1 on Saturday.
– The four goals against Duke were the most-ever for the Irish in an ACC contest and they matched a season-high goal total. Notre Dame also scored four times in the 4-1 win over Dartmouth on Sept. 5.
HODAN CONTINUES HOT STREAK
– Junior midfielder Patrick Hodan has scored at least one goal in five of the last six matches and he has totaled six goals in those six contests.
– Hodan’s four game-winning goals this season rank 13th nationally and they are the third-most in the ACC. He has nine game-winning goals during his career.
– Hodan leads the Fighting Irish in goals (7) and points (16) this season. He has the most career goals (24) and assists (12) of any current Notre Dame player. The goal total is tied for 17th nationally among active Division I players.
– Hodan’s seven goals this season rank second in the ACC.
– His recent hot streak began Oct. 7 with an equalizer (2-2) in the 3-2 setback at Michigan. Hodan notched the golden goal in the 3-2 victory against Louisville on Oct. 10 and he converted a penalty kick in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Northwestern on Oct. 14.
– He netted two goals in a span of 2:14 in the second half of the 4-1 win at Duke on Oct. 17. The two tallies matched a career-best output that he’s achieved two other times.
– Hodan put Notre Dame up 2-0 in the 66th minute of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Virginia Tech.
BEATING THE BEST
– Notre Dame is 5-1-2 against ranked teams this season.
– The Fighting Irish are 21-4-8 (.758) versus ranked foes since the beginning of the 2012 season.
SECOND HALF SUCCESS
– Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 17-8 in the second half and overtime this season. The Irish own a 142-87 shot advantage in the second half and overtime.
– Freshman forward Jeffrey Farina has two goals and a team-high five assists, while fellow rookie striker Jon Gallagher has two goals and three assists.
– Gallagher assisted on both of Farina’s goals and Farina has an assist on both of Gallagher’s tallies.
– The duo combined for four points in the 4-1 win at Duke on Oct. 17. Farina notched two assists, including one on Gallagher’s first career goal.
– Farina assisted on Gallagher’s tally in Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech.
IRISH AT ALUMNI STADIUM
– Notre Dame is 23-4-3 (.817) at home over the past three seasons. The Fighting Irish are 41-12-9 (.734) at Alumni Stadium since it opened in 2009.
– A capacity crowd of 3,500 filled Alumni Stadium to see Notre Dame top North Carolina on Sept. 26. That was the second-largest crowd in Fighting Irish history.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director