Rene White registered the NJIT men’s first hat-trick at the Division I level. (Photo courtesy of NJIT)
HILLSIDE, N.J. — Redshirt sophomore Rene White scored his first career hat-trick in NJIT’s come-from-behind overtime win over Saint Francis U, 3-2, in men’s soccer non-conference action at Kean University East Campus Facility Wednesday afternoon.
The Highlanders overcame a two-goal deficit.
NJIT is one of only eight teams among NCAA Division I teams with a 4-0 record. This marked the best start for the Highlanders, since the 2017 season, when the Highlanders were 5-0-1.
White, who did not play last season due to injury and combined for six goals during his freshman campaign, scored a goal in the first and second periods, including the golden goal in the first exratime, for the first hat trick in the Division I era for the men’s soccer program (first season 2004).
White tallied his first goal in the 44th minute, assisted by sophomore Pablo Jimenez, in 89th minute on a penalty kick and 99th minute from inside the box, assisted by Hugo Espuela to seal the match.
The Highlander forward from Bloomfield, N.J., scored the golden goal at 98:52, after graduate student Jack Flanagan fed the ball to sophomore Hugo Espuela down the left wing. Espuela carried the ball into the 18 and rolled a pass to the redshirt sophomore striker inside the box for the 3-2 victory.
With 1:06 left in regulation, White converted a penalty kick and finished to the left of the Saint Francis U keeper, after a called handball committed inside the box, dead locking the match at 2-2.
Saint Francis U (2-2-0) held a 2-0 lead through the opening 43 minutes.
Sophomore midfielder Kevin Smolyn scored the first goal of the match in the fifth minute, the first of his career, assisted by Mario Mastrangelo. Mastrangelo, who posted 13 goals for the Red Flash in 2017, took the initial shot to begin the play, saved by NJIT’s Victor Pujades but the rebound went back to Smolyn as he tucked away his first goal of the season.
Mastrangelo tallied his third goal of the season at 36:47 unassisted for a 2-0 cushion. The goal for the senior forward was his 30th of his career.
The Highlanders got on the board in the 44th minute on a long ball over the Red Flash defense by Jimenez to White, pulling within one of the Red Flash at halftime, 2-1.
NJIT outshot Saint Francis U 14-13 (8-2 in the second half) and held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks in the second half.
Highlander keeper Pujades combined for four saves while Red Flash goalkeeper Jonas Dieseler stopped two Highlander shots.
NJIT visits Drexel in Philadelphia Saturday at 6 p.m.