Gandy twins look to solidify legacies with women’s lacrosse

The+Gandy+twins+are+geared+up+for+another+season+of+lacrosse.+Photo+Credit%3A+Carly+Sylvester

The Gandy twins are geared up for another season of lacrosse. Photo Credit: Carly Sylvester

By Nathan Breisinger, Social Media Director

Aiming to be two of the most iconic players in Robert Morris women’s lacrosse history, twins Mackenzie and Melanie Gandy were devastated after realizing their collegiate careers were coming to a close as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The stoppage left Mackenzie Gandy just four points shy of breaking the program’s all-time point record, while her sister Melanie Gandy sat seventh all-time in the same category hoping to climb the ranks. Nearly a year later, and the Gandy twins are set out not only to add to their legacies but to win a championship with Robert Morris.

“It was extremely heartbreaking,” Mackenzie said. “Coming out [last season], we were 5-2, so we knew we had a great chance of going all the way in the NEC and winning a championship. It sucked to see all of our hard work and dedication stopped right then and there. We didn’t know if we were able to come back another year. I was in shock. I didn’t even know what to think or do for the next couple of weeks to come.”

With the season canceled and potentially their last game wearing a Colonials uniform in the rearview mirror, the Gandy’s received news that the NCAA granted spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, allowing them to return as graduate seniors.

Sharing a similar sentiment regarding the missed opportunity of winning a championship, Melanie is thankful to return for another season and compete for the red, white, and blue.

“We worked so hard to win a championship. You are playing your whole life to be recruited in college, and you finally get here, and you cant compete for the championship, your main goal. That was the most heartbreaking thing. We are super grateful that we got the opportunity to come back,” Melanie said.

As season play commences on Sunday, the Colonial attackers are looking to ascend atop of the greats in Robert Morris women’s lacrosse history. With 176 points, Melanie only needs four more points to leapfrog Ashley Levering for the most points in Colonials history.

“I’m really excited to break the record, but I didn’t do it alone. I always have my girls behind me to help me get better.” Mackenzie said.

While Mackenzie looks to break the most coveted record in RMU women’s lacrosse history, Melanie aims to move up the ladder in point totals as well.

“It’s exciting. I am going to keep pushing myself every day and do the best that I can and see where it goes from there.” Melanie said.

Before etching their names into the Colonials’ record books, the Gandy twins paved their path through lacrosse following several spheres of influences that kickstarted their careers.

If there is an area in the United States that lives, eats, and breathes lacrosse, Maryland is that spot. The home state for the Gandy twins is a hotbed for the growing sport, and it is home to one of the most prestigious lacrosse schools in the country, the University of Maryland. The Maryland Terrapins women’s lacrosse team has made the final four 27 times, with the team claiming 14 NCAA Tournament Championships, leaving an impact on youth girls, such as the Gandy’s.

“To be from Maryland, I wouldn’t say lacrosse is your life, but it’s a big part,” Mackenzie said. “It’s always fun to watch the University of Maryland. They’re basically number one all the time. It’s awesome to be close to these older girls to watch and grow up to hopefully be something like them one day.”

Along with the strong following in Maryland, the Baltimore natives also took after their mom, who played lacrosse at a competitive level.

“Our mom played in high school and college, so we took after her,” Mackenzie said.

The Gandy’s additionally were motivated by their friends who participated in the sport.

“I think a huge part of our influence is the people we played with growing up. They took it all so seriously,” Melanie said. “A lot of them ended up going to top-tier schools. We have really good friends in really high places, so it’s exciting to see them be successful, so I think that encouraged us to do the same thing.”

With the numerous influences that propelled the dynamic duo to play lacrosse, Melanie first picked up the game, while eventually, Mackenzie joined her.

“She started lacrosse before me. It was weird, I didn’t want to sign up for lacrosse, but she did. My parents were just like, ‘why don’t you play catch with your sister for a bit.’ We fell in love with it as we grew older,” Mackenzie said.

Going through high school, the pair grew their skills by pushing each other through their competitive nature.

“When I go up against her, I have to beat her. I have to be better than her. Also, I know she’s never going to take things lightly on me. We push ourselves to be better on the field,” Mackenzie said.

Just like any other sibling duo, the Gandy’s had their discrepancies with one another but never let them go to the extremes.

“Little disputes happened more often than not, but I think there’s a minute we are yelling at each other, but the next we are connecting on the field,” Mackenzie said. “That bond between us never really breaks, we will have a couple of hiccups here and there [however].”

As their bond grew over time, Melanie and Mackenzie translated their chemistry onto the field, making them a deadly duo during high school.

“We have that twin telepathy,” Melanie said. “It sounds corny, but I always see her, and she always sees me, and we’re always working together, which is super fun.”

Putting their talents together, the Gandy twins boosted Dulaney High School to a state championship in 2016. Mackenzie rose to the occasion and scored five goals, while Melanie added four points of her own against Leonardtown to clinch the title.

Following the success the twins found at Dulaney High School, they found a new home at Robert Morris after heavily considering Queens University in Charlotte. The difference-maker? Another set of twins.

While being recruited by Robert Morris, the Gandy’s were able to relate to the Karwaki twins, who were seniors at the time and also called Maryland home.

“RMU reached out to both of us and showed extreme interest. We heard of RMU through another set of twins that went to Hereford High School, our high school’s county rival. We never played with them as they were four years above us, but we got to build a relationship with them,” Melanie said. “We visited RMU, and the Karwaki twins took us under their wings and toured us all through the campus.”

In the footsteps of another set of twins, the Gandy’s came to campus looking to sustain similar success as they displayed in high school.

During their freshman year, Mackenzie showcased her talents by recording 29 goals along with 56 points, helping her earn All-NEC First Team and NEC All-Rookie team honors.

On the other hand, Melanie has a slow start to her Colonials career. An injury cut her freshman campaign short, limiting her to five games.

“My injury was definitely a mental obstacle. Freshman year is a huge transition for everyone. Lacrosse was my outlet from all of the stress that freshman year brings, and not being able to have that outlet and having to miss out was tough,” Melanie said.

The following season, Mackenzie saw her season shortened due to a broken arm, but she continued to help her sister while on the sideline. Melanie had a bounce-back season, posting 24 goals.

“It was a mental toughness thing, and you have to keep your head in the game on the sideline,” Mackenzie said. “It was different, but I was also able to help Mel out with the little things.”

After hardly competing together over their first two years with Robert Morris, the Gandy twins finally shared the field again for an entire season during their junior campaign. Mackenzie and Melanie illustrated why they are such a potent offensive duo, scoring a combined 73 goals, leading the Colonials to a 12-5 record.

“Being back on the field again was a huge relief. We are partners in crime, and we complement each other well,” Melanie said. “It reminded me of high school where we always had each other to play with. I think I took it for granted to play every game with her, and I became even more appreciative to play beside her.”

With aspirations set high to win a championship during their senior season, the Gandy twins aided Robert Morris to a 5-2 record before COVID-19 shut down all team activities and the lacrosse season.

Although a global pandemic shut down their senior season, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to all spring athletes. Along with the women’s lacrosse team, the Gandy twins have taken the spare time and long offseason to work towards the upcoming campaign.

“Our coaches always say roll with the punches. Since the fall, we’ve trained and practiced every day as if we had a game that weekend,” Melanie said. “We are super grateful that we have been pushed this hard because I think it has prepared us for the upcoming games that we have.”

As the team has worked diligently during the offseason, the Colonials will enter a new conference in 2021, the Mid-American Conference. While the team looks to set new heights, the Gandy’s have confidence that RMU can be a contender in the MAC.

“The MAC is going to be different than the NEC. I think we have a better chance of winning this year because we are a lot stronger of a group. We never won the NEC, we always came in second or third, but this year we have a lot to prove to ourselves and everyone else,” Melanie said.

It has been a whirlwind of a year as we are nearing the one-year mark of the pandemic. Coming back for an extra year, looking to set new records in point totals, along with winning a championship, the Gandy twins have a lot to show before they officially hang up their sticks for good.