Ryan Smith dominates as Colonials cruise past Bellarmine 17-8

Mens+lacrosse+celebrates+one+of+their+17+goals+against+Bellarmine+on+Tuesday.+Photo+Credit%3A+Nathan+Breisinger

Men’s lacrosse celebrates one of their 17 goals against Bellarmine on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

By Nathan Breisinger, Sports Multimedia Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– It was the perfect way to begin a two-game home schedule for the Robert Morris men’s lacrosse team on Tuesday as they were led by graduate senior Ryan Smith in a 17-8 rout over Bellarmine.

Ryan Smith notched 11 points on the afternoon for Robert Morris (2-3) against Bellarmine (1-4), setting a personal single-game high, along with resetting the single-game record in men’s lacrosse history set by him in 2019.

After the game, Smith spoke about the team returning to its winning ways with him pacing the Colonials.

“We got back to who we were,” Smith said. “We ran our offense and it was me today, but it could be anyone on our offense that goes off on any given day.”

Head coach Andrew McMinn views it as a normal occurrence for Smith to be a top performer game in and game out but applauded his effort in this historic game.

“Ryan is such a tremendous player and for him to go out there and perform at this level it’s become an expectation at this point,” McMinn said. “He’s such a hard dodger to stop. His one-on-one ability and getting to the cage is pretty much as good as it gets.”

Along with setting a personal high, Smith also jumped three spots to gain sole possession of second place all-time in points for the men’s lacrosse program. With his 11 points, Smith now has 175 points, just 20 points behind Trevor Moore for first place.

“All the pro players that have come through this program, it’s definitely a cool feeling to know I’m up there with them,” Smith said.

Robert Morris began the day with Smith leading the way as he registered the first goal of the game. The graduate senior attacker also factored into two other goals to propel the Colonials to a 5-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.

While the Colonials held a lead over the Knights after the first 15 minutes, it was important for RMU to maintain the pressure and not let Bellarmine back into the game.

“We challenge the guys to have a consistent approach with everything we do,” McMinn said. “When we get into those situations we remind them eyes can’t be on the scoreboard, focus has to be on the next play and making sure we are executing what’s in front of us to the best of our ability.”

Despite Robert Morris’ strong start, Bellarmine had hopes of changing its fortunes after the opening quarter as they were looking for their first win against RMU since 2016. Landon Trout found the back of the net to start the second quarter, which was followed by a Luke Legnard tally on the man-up advantage to make it 5-3. However, this would be the smallest deficit for Bellarmine outside of the first 10 minutes of the contest.

Robert Morris’ four-goal run spanning between the second and third quarters gave the team a big enough cushion for the Colonials as they would never look back.

Besides their offensive prowess displayed on the afternoon, the Colonials also dominated in the ground ball category. The team retrieved 41 ground balls compared to Bellarmine’s 29 as Smith and Owen Down paced the team with four each.

“We challenged the guys with their effort and felt that really showed up in the ground ball play, which is a big part in separating on the scoreboard.”

As Bellarmine scattered goals throughout the second half, they could never ignite their offense to start a run. A big part of RMU’s success in eliminating opportunities for the Knights was the play of sophomore goalkeeper Liam Rosenthal, who made his first collegiate start in net.

“He’s earned it over the last couple of weeks. We had him going in relief against Notre Dame and we felt like he played at a very high level,” McMinn said. “He earned that start and he went out there and showed exactly why and gave us the performance we expect to get out of our goaltenders.”

With Rosenthal’s 14 saves, the Colonials would go on to defeat the Knights in their home opener. The team was thrilled to return to Joe Walton Stadium in front of the home crowd.

“It was fun,” Smith said. “It’s always good to be back at the Joe and we love this place so it was good [to win].”