CHATHAM, NJ - There is evidence that the energizing atmosphere produced by the fans on "Cougar Night" can set the stage for some special moments on the field.
Jameson Shi, Luke Haley and Marcel Kripzak buoyed that theory about Cougar Night as they all experienced memorable moments for the Chatham boys soccer team in its 6-1 win over Sparta on Friday night.
Senior co-captain Shi, moved to the front line recently to fill in for an injured teammate, remarkably scored his first three goals of the season - all in the first half - as his hat trick sparked the Cougars to a 3-0 halftime lead.
"We make changes on this team," Chatham coach Mark Maka said. "He's been up there a couple games now. We changed our system a little bit so that kind of changed the way we were doing some things. Ian (Kagan) got hurt so we needed to figure something out and that's why we played Shi up there. He played up there last year a little bit as well. He obviously had a great night."
In the second half, junior midfielder Haley scored the first two goals of his career before junior Marcel Kripzak capped the night with his first career goal on a great individual effort.
The six goals matched the goal total put forth by Chatham (7-6-2) in its previous six games.
Luke Haley and Jameson Shi talk about the game in which they accounted for five of the six goals scored by Chatham
Shi got his big night off to a quick start when he intercepted a Sparta pass and quickly put it away with a shot 4:12 into the action. Six minutes later he headed the ball past the keeper after receiving a pass from Cole Bixby (see below).
Shi saves his best goal for last when he scored with about a minute to play in the half. Shi pulled down a restart taken by Brian Babovic, shed his defender with a quick move and fired it inside the far post (see the video below).
Haley notched his first career goal and made it 4-0 in the 48th minute when he flicked a header into the far side of the net off a restart lifted by Peter Tolkin (see below).
After Spara scored to cut its deficit to 4-1, Haley struck again in the 55th minute when he finished a cross by Ryan Johnson, rushing in to knock it home at the far post for a 5-1 advantage.
Kripzak culminated the big night when he won a 50-50 ball from a defender and raced in on net, chipping it over the head of the keeper and into the net with 1:18 showing. It was the junior's first career goal.