UNION, N.J. (2/22/14) – Sophomore Matt Speciale started the Kean University men's lacrosse season with three-straight goals on his way to a double hat trick as the Cougars used overpowering second half defense to dispatch Castleton State College 11-5.
Speciale started the scoring less than two minutes into the game, but three different Spartans came back to score the next three. Speciale's tally at 8:38 chopped the lead in half, but a worm-burner from Castleton's Alex Green skipped into the Kean cage for a 4-2 Spartan lead.
Late in the first half, Speciale and senior Daniel Brenner scored within a minute of each other to knot the game and send the teams into the break tied at four. Both goaltenders were playing well in their first action of the season; they combined to stop 15 of the 23 shots on goal in the first half.
Kean came out of the locker room as a powerhouse on both sides of the ball. The Cougars shut out Castleton in the third quarter, and held them to just one shot on goal in the period. In contrast, Kean scored four third quarter goals; Speciale scored the first two to break the tie, followed by Anthony Perrotta and Richard Cheifitz with less than a minute to go.
The Cougars kept up the pressure in the fourth, where they outscored Castleton State 3-1 on their way to closing out their textbook second half. Senior goalkeeper Dino Vitale (pictured left) had a dozen saves in the game for a save percentage of .705.
Cheifitz had two goals plus three assists and Michael Cestaro III also found the back of the cage for Kean. One of the times Cheifitz and Speciale got together for a goal was especially acrobatic.
The Cougars will head to Western Connecticut State University next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with the Colonials.