MOON TOWNSHIP- On Sunday afternoon, RMU women’s lacrosse hosted the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs with each team in search of snagging their third consecutive win in the confines of Joe Walton Stadium.
It rained off and on throughout the game, but that didn’t affect anything as the Colonials (3-0) charged to a 12-9 win over the Bulldogs (2-1) on the strength of a nine-goal second-half effort, coming back from being down 6-3 at the half.
Head coach Katrina Silva talked about the team’s slow start to the game.
“We weren’t following the gameplan [in the first half],” Silva said. “We had talked about what their zone looked like and we didn’t make any adjustments. This team has a ton of heart and a ton of fight, and that showed today.”
The teams traded possessions for the first three minutes of the game, but it was Gardner-Webb who found the back of the net first at the 26:52 mark. Lauren Deaver found Eilish Gately who rocketed one behind Katelyn Miller for the first goal of the contest.
After several minutes without a score, the Bulldogs broke the ice once more as Gately scored her second of the afternoon thanks to yet another Deaver assist, doubling the GWU lead.
The Colonials answered that goal right back, stealing the ball from GWU and rushing downfield. Colleen Tifft located a wide-open Jordan Anderson who netted her third goal of the season to cut the Gardner-Webb lead in half.
Mackenzie Gandy continued her torrid stretch of goal-scoring by tying the game up with an absolute seed of a shot at the 13:26 mark, her ninth of the season.
It was Kathleen Kelley’s turn to score next, rushing into the zone untouched and firing it top-shelf past Mackey as the Colonials continued to up their offensive pressure and take the lead.
It was all Gardner-Webb in the second part of the first half, mounting a late surge starting with Annie Perino squaring the game right back up at three, following it up with a Jada Preston goal to reclaim the lead.
Talen Francis scored a beauty of a goal to bring the lead back to two, sprinting in and firing it in on the backhand to make it 5-3, drawing a Katrina Silva timeout.
The timeout did not do much to slow down Francis, as she picked up yet another goal during the possession after the timeout.
Both sides flirted with offensive chances but both goaltenders stood tall for the remainder of the half. Gardner-Webb took a 6-3 lead into the break.
At the start of the second half, Francis immediately completed her hat-trick, sneaking into the zone, faking Miller out and sending it across the goal-line at the 28:05 mark.
Not to be outdone, Melanie Gandy added a goal of her own as she was falling to the turf to get the Colonials back to within three. The following goal by Kathleen Kelley drew the Colonials even closer.
Her sister Mackenzie proved that the Colonials were mounting a comeback, drilling a goal top-shelf and making the deficit just one.
After a few minutes of uneventful play, Hannah Miller nearly sealed the comeback effort, but Mackey made the save and stopped the ensuing free-position attempt. The next free-position attempt, Mackey was not as lucky as Mackenzie scored her third goal of the game on the player-advantage, completing a four-goal comeback stretch and forcing Jessie Aguglia to take a timeout. Mackenzie stretched her total to 11 on the season.
The comeback effort was completed thanks to a steal by Mackenzie who found her sister Melanie wide-open, scoring to give the Colonials their first lead since the first half with a hair over 16 minutes remaining in the contest. Another goal, this time by Julia Koterwas, trickled just behind Mackey, stretching the Colonials’ lead back up to two.
Mackenzie Gandy extended her lights-out effort in the second half by scoring her 12th goal of the season and fourth on the day, adding to her already impressive career points record. It came as no surprise when she did it again a few minutes later, making it an 11-7 game.
Gardner-Webb finally stopped the bleeding with a shade over eight minutes left as Tori Birks earned a free-position shot and cashed in to get back to within three.
The teams played the next several minutes scoreless, but Gardner-Webb made a few unforced errors that allowed the Colonials to retain time on attack for most of the second half. Mackenzie Gandy, who was on an absolute tear, scored yet again off of a Bulldog error to net her second-straight six-goal performance.
Silva also spoke about the adjustments made at half and how the team finished strong.
“I told them [at half] I was disappointed in their effort,” she said. “At this point last year we were sent home, so I told them to act like it would be their last game again. When we follow the gameplan, it shows how good we are.”
In the waning minutes, Talen Francis scored again, but this would be the final goal of the game as the Colonials snatched a victory from Gardner-Webb 12-9.
The Colonials will be back on Wednesday for their first MAC conference action against Kent State (0-2).