Sunday September 21st saw two titans of the Club Soccer Central division go head to head. The University of Notre Dame took on a strong and technical Michigan State team that are two years removed national champions. The match took place on a soggy day, with a slick pitch that forced the play into a blistering pace. Out of the gates the Spartans brought intensity and physicality that wasn’t met by the Irish. As the Irish settled into the game however they enjoyed a dominant spell of play for the majority of the first half. Multiple quick passes at the top of the Spartans penalty box culminated in a wonder strike from Peter McGrane that was unlucky to bounce off the post. Just before the whistle for half the Irish co-captain and spiritual leader, Ryan Bonner, showed his immense strength and poise ripping through State’s defense on a forty yard run only to have the ball nicked from his feet six yards from the net. In the huddle with the second half looming Brian Roddy stepped outside of his usual timid comfort zone to deliver a scintillatingly passionate motivational speech that would make the likes of JFK and Ray Lewis shudder with pride. Out of the gates the Irish attacked with technical precision, led by a Lionel Messi-esque performance in the central midfield from Joseph Grady. He and Kurt Roehmer played appealing tiki-taka style balls around Michigan’s defenders, creating space for others to operate. The Irish were unfortunate to go down 1-0 after a fantastic free kick from just outside of the box found the side netting. The Irish kept fighting down a goal, and were eventually forced to commit more men forward which failed as they were caught on a fast break from Michigan resulting in their second goal of the game. With their heads raised high and a glisten of determination in their collective eyes, the Irish walked off the field two nil losers; down, but never out.