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Yale Earns 2-2 Draw With No. 4 Michigan State In Thriller At Reese

The Bulldogs celebrate Nicky Downs' tying goal. (Steve Musco photo)
The Bulldogs celebrate Nicky Downs' tying goal. (Steve Musco photo)

Downs Scores Tying Goal Late In Second Half

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The first men's soccer game with the new turf at Reese Stadium won't soon be forgotten. Nicky Downs' goal at 87:56 earned Yale a 2-2 tie with No. 4 ranked and perennial national power Michigan State before a big crowd that was treated to a highly entertaining game.

"It's great to be back playing at Reese, and I'm extra happy to open the new field with such an exciting college soccer game," said Kylie Stannard, The 5K Corral Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "They don't get much better than that.

"I've never been more proud as a coach as I am tonight. I'm incredibly happy for our players and program to get a very good result against a top 10 program.  These guys have been working so hard for so long and nobody deserves such a quality result like this more than they do.  This should only build more confidence in our guys that they can play with anyone in the country if they have the type of spirit and belief they had tonight."

Downs' goal came just 3:45 after Patrick Nielsen had given the Spartans a 2-1 lead.

Justin Lobe started the play when he sent a long ball forward. Paolo Carroll deflected it to Downs, who fired a shot into the top corner from 25 yards out, setting off a celebration in the stands and on the Yale side.

The Bulldogs nearly won it in the first overtime after Michigan State was whistled for a hand ball in the box. MSU goalkeeper Jimmy Hague, though, made an outstanding, diving save to deny Miguel Yuste's penalty kick.

Yale outshot the Spartans 6-4 in the two, 10-minute overtime periods.

Michigan State, though, did have one high-quality chance, but Yale goalkeeper Tom Wallenstein made a terrific kick save to rob DeJuan Jones, who had gotten behind the defense.

The Spartans (5-0-2) finished with a 16-10 edge in shots, but Yale's defense limited the number of dangerous opportunities.

Early on, it looked like the Bulldogs were poised for an upset. Yale had the better of the play and was rewarded when Will Emerson scored at 24:26. Ryan Matteo started the play when he tapped a ball back to Yuste, who sent the ball toward goal. Hague got his hands on it but couldn't control it, and Emerson was there to knock it home.

The Bulldogs kept the lead until midway through the second half. Giuseppe Barone neatly curved a free kick from just outside the box past the Yale wall, off the post and in at 69:21 to tie the score at 1-1.

Another free kick put the Spartans ahead at 84:11. This time Barone sent a ball to the far post where Neilsen was waiting to tap it in.

The game was a matchup between Stannard and one of his mentors, Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing. Stannard spent six years at MSU as a member of Rensing's staff and helped the Spartans to five NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure.

The two teams had met in East Lansing in 2016, a 2-0 Spartan victory in Stannard's second season at Yale.

Michigan State was the highest ranked team to play at Reese since UConn visited with a No. 2 national ranking in 2012.

"Michigan State is a top program with a great coaching staff and fantastic players," Stannard said. "I will be excited to watch them the rest of the year."

The Bulldogs (1-2-1) are back in action on Tuesday when they play at Bryant. Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity