Michigan State gave No. 5/1 Connecticut all it could handle in a Labor Day matinee at DeMartin Stadium, but the numerous chances for the Spartans would not find the back of the net and MSU fell, 1-0 to the Huskies.
The Spartans carried the better of play on the afternoon, but despite five shots on net and an impressive defensive effort from the backline out, MSU's offensive chances yielded no goals for the third straight home game. Bryce Dobbins made three saves for the Spartans in goal, as MSU fell to 1-2-1 on the year. MSU welcomed more than 1500 fans to the game on Monday afternoon.
Michigan State dropped another one-goal decision - the Spartans have not lost a game by more than a goal since Oct. 24 2010, a 3-0 loss at Indiana; MSU's 12 losses since that time have all been by a goal, with seven ties as well in that span.
There were certainly enough positives to focus on for the day, but the end result was tough to swallow. "I really thought it was a good performance by our team, but it just wasn't enough today. We don't have moral victories," explained head coach Damon Rensing. "I'm not disappointed at all in the effort - Im very proud of how we played, but Im disappointed in the result," said head coach Damon Rensing I thought we played great today - created more of the chances, and we defended well. I thought we got exactly what we thought out of UConn - they have very good players, we managed the game well for more than 89 minutes. But, the game is longer than that - their player scored a nice goal to give them the lead.
"I think we can play with any team in the country when we play well , we defend, and create chances," continued the head coach. "That's what we did, created enough chances, and it just didn't go our way today. We just have to keep working on finishing our chances, because I really thought that we created enough of them to have a chance to win the game."
Michigan State dominated possession early, getting a couple of chances deep and a pair of corner kicks before the game was 15 minutes old. UConn looked dangerous with some pressure in the box in the 13 th minute, but Ryan Keener headed away a cross that ended the threat. MSU carried the better of play in the half, but the score was deadlocked as the teams entered halftime.
Early in the second half, the Spartans had a restart from 25 yards out, which did not yield a shot on net. The Huskies went on the counterattack, as Max Wasserman drove up the right side and crossed the ball in for Allando Matheson, who's shot caromed off a defender lunging for the ball and into the back of the net. It was Matheson's second goal of the season.
The chances for the Spartans in the second half certainly came, but unfortunately, an equalizer didn't. In the 60th minute, Adam Montague sent a fantastic lead pass for Domenic Barone, who got within eight yards with a defender on each hip, but his shot was saved by keeper Andre Blake. In the 68th minute, a nice run and a heads-up play by Fatai Alashe was deflected away at the last minute by the keeper, which set up a corner kick - but the ensuing kick was redirected back into the midfield to end the Spartan threat.
UConn had a chance to double its lead with 13 minutes to play, as Matheson looked for his second goal of the day. He got around a defender in the box, but Dobbins was able to knock the ball away with a slide tackle to keep it a one-goal game.
The Spartans kept fighting for a tying goal, as the ticking clock became more their enemy than the Huskies. Tim Kreutz sent a laser at the net from the right side in the 82nd minute, which forced the UConn keeper to dive to his right to make the save - but he got his hands on it and knocked it out of harm's way. With just under five minutes remaining, the Spartans had a pair of free kicks from the left side, the second resulting in a header by Ryan Keener that sailed just left. Alashe followed a minute later with a long crossing pass that Kevin Cope headed netward, but Blake leapt to snag the ball from midair.
MSU, now 1-2-1 on the season, begins a three-game road swing with important games on the slate. The Spartans head east for a pair of out-of-region contests at Harvard (Friday, 4 p.m.) and Sunday at Providence at noon. The Spartans will then play at Notre Dame before welcoming Marquette to DeMartin Stadium for the second half of the Big Ten-Big East Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 2:30 p.m.