PREVIEW: Women’s lacrosse to open season at home against Liberty

Women%27s+lacrosse+hosts+Liberty+on+Saturday.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tim+Kelley

Women’s lacrosse hosts Liberty on Saturday. Photo Credit: Tim Kelley

By Nathan Roberts, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– The Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team will host the Liberty Flames (0-1) in their season opener for a Sunday afternoon matinee at Joe Walton Stadium beginning at noon.

The Colonials were last seen almost a year ago when they took down the Bulldogs of Butler by a score of 15-8, right before the pandemic took over. After an offseason unlike any other, the Colonials should be prepared to handle whatever comes their way.

Recapping Robert Morris

After a shortened 2020 season, seven games to be exact, RMU is ready to pick up right where they left off. They will look to their upperclassmen to demonstrate leadership in what is shaping up to be a different, yet exciting season.

Key pieces of the roster include grad-students and siblings Mackenzie and Melanie Gandy, who led the team in points a year ago, and redshirt senior Clio Kerr who was not far behind. On the other hand, head coach Katrina Silva brought in some highly-touted freshmen looking to make an immediate impact this spring. The upcoming game against Liberty will prove to be a big one as the Colonials would like to begin the season on a high note.

Scouting Liberty

Liberty is coming into this game after suffering a 13-5 loss to Virginia Tech (1-0) on February 12 at home. The Flames finished 3-3 in the abbreviated 2020 season, going 0-3 on the road.

Liberty will not be returning Jenna Joyal this season, who was the team’s leader in assists last season with 11 and put up 10 goals. Leah Ruby led the way in the game against the Hokies, tallying two goals and two assists for the Flames.

Fortunately for Liberty, they return both leading goal scorers, Anna Keebler and Mia Toscano. The new group of freshmen will also play important roles in determining the team’s level of success this season. The Flames will surely be hungry for a win to quickly get back to .500 on the young season.

Players to Watch

Mackenzie Gandy (RMU) – Graduate Student Mackenzie Gandy was a key contributor for the Colonials last season. She put up 19 goals and 36 points total in seven games. She will need to play well for Robert Morris to come out on top as she will be sure to make her presence known on Saturday afternoon. Liberty needs to pay extra attention to her or else she could have yet another excellent performance.

Melanie Gandy (RMU) – Also a grad-student, Melanie Gandy is back after a nice 2020 campaign. She put up 12 goals alongside 13 assists in just six games. She does a great job of sharing the ball and will have to continue doing just that on Saturday. If Liberty is not careful, Gandy can quickly shift the momentum in favor of the Colonials.

Anna Keebler (LU) – Keebler is coming off a season where she scored 24 goals in only six games. She has also been selected to the ASUN Women’s Lacrosse Preseason All-Conference team. Keebler was quiet in the loss to Virginia Tech, and the Colonials would certainly like to keep it that way in the upcoming game. RMU needs to know where Keebler is at on the field to minimize the number of times she appears on the scoresheet.

Mia Toscano (LU) – The last time these two teams met, the PA native scored twice in Liberty’s 14-13 victory over the Colonials. She ended with 12 goals and four assists in the six games Liberty had played in. Toscano can step in to fill the shoes of Jenna Joyal, whom the Flames lost to graduation one year ago. Her ability to get shots on net can quickly change the outcome of this game if the Colonials are not careful.

Prediction

I believe Robert Morris will take this one 13-11. It is an important early game and both teams will be at their best. Liberty comes out quick, but the players that need to step up for RMU will do just that to give them a hard-fought victory.