Men’s lacrosse looking to turn season around
Kean on the attack against Arcadia
By Mak Ojutiku
Putting on a great performance usually isn’t easy. Following up that great performance with another extraordinary outing can be even more difficult.
Last year, Kean University’s mens lacrosse team put on one of their better performances. They finished the 2014 season with a 16-3 record, which is the most wins in a season in the program’s 45-year history. Right now though, the team is heading into the second half of this year’s season with a record of 4-3.
They’ve experienced more than a few issues and setbacks.
“I don’t feel good about where our team is right now.” said the head coach of the team, Shelley Sheiner.
Sheiner has been the head coach for 12 years now, and his team hasn’t posted a losing season in eight years. The coach says their record isn’t an accurate reflection of the skill of his team.
“We’re better than a 4-3 team,” said Sheiner. “We just haven’t executed and played to our capabilities.”
One thing the Cougars have been struggling to find this year is consistency. The team wasn’t able to string together any kind of winning streak in March. One cause for that could be the relative youth of the team. The team returned only three seniors this year, while bringing in 14 freshman.
“That’s what kind of tripped us up in the early going,” said the head coach. “We’re going through some growing pains. We’re a young team. We’ve got a lot of first year guys playing in some spots and some guys who are still on their way a little bit.”
Mother Nature has also provided some obstacles for the lacrosse team. The unusually frigid and snowy weather cut into the team’s practice and playing time in a big way during the first few weeks of the season.
“The fact that we couldn’t get onto our field for quite some time has been a major factor for us.” said Sheiner. “We haven’t had adequate practice time and we haven’t had adequate space and use of the field.”
Despite their disappointing mark, the team has shown the occasional flash of greatness. The same greatness that broke records last year.
In the opening match of this season, the Cougars found themselves up against the Knights of Arcadia University. While the game took place on a cold February night, the Cougars offense was anything but cold. Kean scored nine goals before the Arcadia got on the scoreboard, and the Cougars eventually won the game 13-2. Junior Anthony Carpenter recorded his first hat trick of the season in the game.
Carpenter and fellow junior Matt Speciale are the leaders in the team’s offense. Carpenter leads the team in goals with 12, while Speciale has seven goals with four assists. Sheiner expects more out of the pair going into the second half of the season.
“(Speciale and Carpenter) have not played up to their capabilities yet, but I’m expecting big things in the second half of the season.” said Sheiner.
One bright spot for the team has been goalie Max Fields. Fields wasn’t the intended starter going into the season, but he’s proved he deserves the spot with his play. The junior goaltender has stopped 98 goals and currently has the eighth best save percentage in Division III (.679).
Conference play is coming up for the Cougars soon, and despite all the setbacks Sheiner has high expectations for his team.
“We’re gonna make some positional changes.” said Sheiner. “We’re gonna tweak some things and we’re gonna be ready for conference play. I expect us to win the conference.”