The Spartans held a one-goal lead. Senior goaltender Mike Mamunes was the last line of defense, and opposing attackman Brett Conley was closing in. Mamunes denied Conley’s attempt at evening the score and would hold the Mustangs off for another five minutes.Since 2003 Castleton and Mount Ida have been facing each other, and Mount Ida has been the victor in all matches except for the 2003 game. With junior midfielder Mike Martinez’s six-goal performance and Mamunes’s saving 19 shots, the Spartans finally took down their conference foe on March 28. The win has Castleton sitting at the number one seed above Mount Ida in the North Atlantic Conference standings.
“This happened two years ago,” Mamunes said about facing a one-on-one with the game on the line. “I was just thinking, ‘Oh God,’ but we talk about poise and staying calm. I stayed collected and was able to hold on.”
Martinez led all scorers with six goals, and sophomore Derek Riley scored a hat trick. Freshman attackman Kevin McCarthy added two goals and three assists to the score sheet. Junior midfielder Jake Rick scored a goal and assisted on two goals while Phil Barry scored another goal and assisted on three.
“They [Mount Ida] haven’t lost in the conference for five years,” said Rick. “Just to be able to beat them was a victory for the conference.”
Since that monumental win over Mount Ida, the Spartans have won four of their last five games. Castleton hit a hiccup on the road after its 12-3 loss to Plymouth State, however, just barely escaping Johnson State in an 11-9 contest. The Spartans have dominated Johnson in recent years.
“The game against Johnson that we won by two goals, we should have won by 22 goals,” said Martinez. “We came out ridiculously flat. We were joking around on the bus ride. We were losing by two goals in the fourth quarter to a team our fourth and fifth line could beat. They [Johnson] wanted that win more than we did.”
Mamunes agreed the play has been great at times, but pointed out that the team hasn’t played well in the past few games.
“We gotta get back on track; we barely beat Johnson,” he said. “Right now we’re trying to get our heads back into it.”
Before the game against Johnson, the Spartans were defeated by Plymouth. The Panthers face guarded McCarthy during the contest, trying to quiet the freshman from the scoring section. Despite Rick’s assisting on three goals, Castleton could not find an answer to the Plymouth defense. The Spartans held the Panthers off for the first three quarters, but the seven goals scored in the fourth quarter prevented Castleton from making any comeback.
“We just need to get back into our routine and find out what each player needs to do to prepare for the next game. Getting off the Ida win is important. There’s going to be more games, and we can’t dwell on that one win,” Rick said about the Spartans’ focus lately.
The Spartans were, however, able to contain NAC sleeper Maine Maritime the game before Plymouth. Castleton senior attackman Ryan Bartlett scored four goals in the game- and his fourth proved to be the game winner. Martinez, Riley and sophomore midfielder Craig MacDerment all scored two goals. Mamunes saved 16 shots in that win.
“We definitely need to win the conference games we have left,” said junior midfielder Dan Luzzi. “But we need to win out to show the lacrosse community that we’re legitimate. When we play like a team it’s great. When we come together as a team we can beat anyone.”
Castleton will play St. Joseph’s, Husson and Kean at home before finishing the season at Lyndon State. The Spartans remain undefeated in the NAC and have two conference games remaining in the season.