OPINION: Colonial Sports Network gives their favorite players to watch at RMU during the 2020-21 season


CSN gives some of their favorite players to watch on campus. Image Credit: Danica Teodoro

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Opinions are of the writer and not of Colonial Sports Network as a whole. This is the writers’ favorite players to WATCH, not who they think is the best.*

Colonial Sports Network has had the privilege of getting to cover Division I Robert Morris Athletics in the midst of the pandemic. However, sadly not everyone gets to experience watching these teams in-person due to coronavirus. In this opinionated column, five of our sports writers will go over their own personal favorite player to watch from each team on campus to share some of our personal opinions on the athletes.

Men’s Basketball

Owen: Enoch Cheeks- One of the hardest working freshmen on the team. Cheeks rarely got on the floor, but when he did he puts his nose down and worked hard. Cheeks will look to have a bigger role on the team next season as a sophomore especially with everyone transferring, and also, what a great last name.

Jon: Jon Williams- In basketball, one of my favorite things to watch is players hitting threes, and Jon Williams is good at that very thing. Williams shot 44.0% from deep this season, and was named to the 2021 State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships; where he hit 14 threes en route to being eliminated in the first round. (Also, he shares my first name; with the CORRECT spelling)

Nick: Jon Williams– While I am almost certain that Jon Hanna picked Williams because of the bond they have due to their first names, I am picking the younger of the two Williams brothers for his leadership. Even when he wasn’t lighting up the stat sheet, he was facilitating the offense with confidence and remaining levelheaded on a team that faced a lot of hardship during its inaugural Horizon League run.

Austin: Kahliel Spear- Ever since stepping foot on campus with the program, Spear has been a lightning rod defensively for Robert Morris. After originally being ineligible to play this season due to transfer protocols, the junior forward provided a spark off the bench before entering the starting lineup for good after AJ Bramah announced his decision to transfer. Spear’s commitment to the defensive side of the game and pick-and-roll ability makes him a valuable asset moving forward.

Tyler: Kam Farris- Farris was nothing short of impressive during his rookie season at Robert Morris. He has a lightning-quick release and tremendous accuracy from deep. He led the Colonials in three-point percentage (46.1) and led freshmen in scoring (8.3). His scoring mark was third on the team and only should increase as he has more playing time next season.

Women’s Basketball

Owen: Natalie Villaflor- Villaflor is another overlooked ballplayer that is not necessarily a starter, rather a player coming off the bench that Charlie Buscaglia can go to for depth. Similar to Cheeks, Villaflor will look to increase her role next season as a senior with the future of the team unknown due to transfers.

Jon: Nina Augustin- Similar to Jon Williams, Nina Augustin is also good at hitting three-pointers. Starting in all 17 games for the Colonials, the senior Finn shot 22/73 (30.1%) from beyond the arc for the Colonials last season.

Nick: Sol Castro- Offseason losses of Nneka Ezeigbo and Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu left RMU in a deep hole down low. Castro emerged as a clear heir to the throne that Ezeigbo once occupied. The Argentina native came into her own during the short 2020-21 season and was a rare flash of positivity during the Colonials’ campaign.

Austin: Sol Castro- Despite being a freshman in a COVID-impacted 2020-21 season, Castro became the star women’s basketball needs transitioning into the Horizon League with her ability to create space and knock down shots. I was surprised how quickly Castro became the most impactful player in Buscaglia’s offensive sets, and despite some shortcomings, was impressive down the stretch and should be a core building block for years to come.

Tyler: Esther Castedo- Castedo has been one of the most durable and reliable offensive players for RMU over her three years, and that was no different this season. She will be a senior leader on this team next year and will try to expand her scoring output with roles on the roster not certain next season.


Owen: Nick Bisceglia- There is not much to go on for this team so far since they have only played one game but I will go with Bisceglia as the kicker. I have a soft spot for kickers as they are both the least important player on the team and also the most important player on the team.

Jon: Jerry Hanks Jr.- Although Hanks only had three catches on the season, the redshirt senior transfer from Dodge City Community College made a name for himself in the Colonials’ first game of their short season. Hanks caught a 37-yard dart from George Martin III with one hand to give the Colonials a 16-9 lead over James Madison. The speedy receiver will be one to watch for the Colonials this season.

Nick: Alijah Jackson- Jackson is speedy quick and has reliable hands that can make him a threat on the ground or in the air. Many skill position players were new to the RMU program, but Jackson provided the team with some veteran leadership and the ability to make a big play at exactly the right time.

Austin: Aniello Buzzacco- Buzzacco is a physical linebacker who has a nose for the ball with an impressive 131 total tackles in only 12 games last season. He has already amassed 15 total tackles against James Madison this year and is exciting to watch him run through blocks and take down backs and receivers on all parts of the field.

Tyler: D’Andre Hicks- Hicks had the most receiving yards this season, one of two players to surpass the century mark as he quickly became Martin’s favorite target. The McNeese State transfer is speedy and can return kicks like the best of them. He should be an important part of this team this season and beyond.

Men’s Hockey

Owen: Justin Addamo- At six-foot-six and 227 pounds, Addamo is not the hardest player to spot out of a crowd. A native of Clermont-Ferrand, France, Addamo is the definition of a power-forward and uses his size to his advantage. He is somewhat of a streaky scorer and lacks consistency which he will look to improve on in his senior season.

Jon: Kyler Head- While Head wasn’t always on the scoresheet in his first season in Moon Township; with only six points on the season, Head made his presence known by getting under the skin of opposing teams. The former New Jersey Titans forward was able to play physical, which will be a welcome addition moving forward to a team coached by the 1993-94 KOHA Grinder of the Year.

Nick: Grant Hebert- I am a big ol’ sucker for a good comeback story. After suffering a brutal injury last season, the fact that Hebert is back and contributing is just a phenomenal story. It really puts things into perspective as to how quickly everything these athletes have worked for can be taken away and how hard they are willing to work to keep playing the game they love.

Austin: Randy Hernández- Another freshman standout, Hernández has the ability to score from anywhere in the offensive zone, leading the team with 11 goals and tied for a team-high 25 points. The Miami, Florida native has a knack for finding the puck and his goal-scoring ability is on full display when the Colonials take the ice.

Tyler: Jordan Timmons- Timmons was a very welcome addition to the Colonials’ offense this season. An extremely talented Connecticut transfer, Timmons joined the team and led the NCAA in goals at one point before going down with an injury. Timmons should be a heavily relied-upon scorer next season.

Women’s Hockey

Owen: Emily Curlett- A incredible leader both on and off the ice Curlett is, in my opinion, the greatest defender in RMU women’s hockey history. Her skating, work ethic, hockey sense, and deadly shot have made her the all-time leader in goals scored by a defender, and only one point shy of the all-time leader in points by a defender in RMU history.

Jon: Emilie Harley- The forward-turned-defender, Harley has still shown signs of her former position while playing on the back-end. In 25 games this season, Harley put up 15 points, including 14 assists. In her first season as a member of the Colonials’ d-corps, Harley scored 21 points.

Nick: Michaela Boyle- Boyle has been a sparkplug of sorts for the Colonials with her great goal-scoring efforts. Her addition to the team from Clarkson has been a great get for the program for the past two years and will continue along that trajectory for the foreseeable future.

Austin: Michaela Boyle- With one of the most successful seasons in program history this past year, Michaela Boyle led all Colonial goal scorers with ten as the only RMU skater in double digits. Boyle’s grit and toughness are key to her goal-scoring as she has a smooth shot and strong sense to put the puck in the back of the net.

Tyler: Ellie Marcovsky- In the year of the freshman for RMU, an under-appreciated season performance belongs to Marcovsky. The Steel City native scored a very under-the-radar 18 points on the season and will have to step up and be a premier offensive weapon for this team next season.

Men’s Lacrosse

Owen: Ryan Smith- I tried to keep most of my picks unique and under-the-radar but Ryan Smith is simply too talented to overlook. He has been a monster for RMU this season and may go down as the greatest men’s lacrosse player in RMU history. He is already the club’s all-time leader in franchise scoring. The only thing left on his bucket list is a championship.

Jon: Jake Boudreau- A senior from Brampton, Ontario, Boudreau is the second leading midfielder scorer on the Colonials (after Austin Popovich). However, Boudreau also has been converting on his shots at a tremendous rate, notching 13 goals on 39 shots.

Nick: Jimmy Perkins- Perkins may qualify for AARP soon due to him playing collegiate lacrosse for seven years now, and he is contributing mightily upon his return to RMU from Utah. His impact on the program has been significant, and seeing him in Colonials’ colors just looks right.

Austin: Austin Popovich- Despite liking that he has the same first name as me, Popovich performs better at lacrosse than I could ever attempt to as the graduate student has scored 13 goals and recorded 24 points on the season. He will be worth keeping an eye on as his dedication to the program and returning for the 2021 spring season has been rewarded.

Tyler: Jimmy Perkins- Perkins, who is men’s lacrosse’s elder statesman in his seventh year of eligibility, has been a welcome returnee to the team’s offense. After a two-year sabbatical in Utah, Perkins returned to Moon Township and has scored 41 points, including great performances against some of the nation’s top teams.

Women’s Lacrosse

Owen: Shea McArdle- Women’s lacrosse gets a lot of praise for what they can do offensively with the Gandy twins, but one player that gets lost in the mix is Shea McArdle who has consistently been the Colonials’ best defender for over three seasons now. She most recently got some recognition with a MAC Defender of the Week Award.

Jon: Julia Koterwas- While Koterwas may not be the same offensive powerhouse that the Gandy twins are, she has still been a strong offensive performer for the Colonials, scoring seven goals in 11 games. What’s impressive about Koterwas however, is that her seven goals have come on only eight shots; meaning she is highly accurate when she gets a chance at the net.

Nick: Mackenzie Gandy- I am not sure how the best player in program history isn’t the obvious pick here. Gandy is a goal-scoring machine and can be credited for a lot of the team’s success this season against MAC opponents.

Austin: Mackenzie Gandy- The all-time points leader in program history, Mackenzie Gandy has been phenomenal in her graduate student season and solidified her legacy with an extra year at Robert Morris.

Tyler: Clio Kerr- The Gandy twins are incredible but the most consistent third option on offense is Clio Kerr who is a goal-scoring machine. She has scored a solid 24 points on the year and has represented Ireland at the national level in past years, which I think is pretty cool.

Men’s Soccer

Owen: Lorenzo Guagneli- Guagneli is an international student coming from Cesenatico, Italy, and is a communication major. As a communications major myself I have had a handful of classes with Guagneli and have learned many things from the stories he has told in class. For instance, he has shared stories on how COVID has affected his home country of Italy. On top of all of this, he is a big part of the men’s soccer roster as a former NEC All-Rookie team player.

Jon: Mike Zolnierczyk- When a team can’t put the ball in the net like men’s soccer this season, it’s up to the last line of defense to keep games close. Zolnierczyk, a sophomore from Springdale, Pennsylvania has done just that, as he is averaging 5.50 saves/game, which ranked fourth in the entire NCAA.

Nick: Mike Zolnierczyk- The Colonials’ offense struggled all season long this spring, but Zolnierczyk’s efforts in net should not be discredited. He racked up nearly 10 saves in a few efforts and gave it his all to keep RMU in games.

Austin: Miller Masson- Credited with RMU’s only goal this season, Masson scored the only goal in the Colonials’ 1-0 win over Purdue Fort Wayne on March 6. It’s good to see someone put the ball in the net for Jason O’Keefe’s first win.

Tyler: Mike Zolnierczyk- With the way soccer has played this season, it’s hard not to notice the goaltending prowess of Mike Zolnierczyk. He is a great last line of defense for this team, and while they have struggled to score, Zolnierczyk has done an amazing job of keeping the other team off the board this year, including a seven-save performance against Northern Kentucky and a nine-save outing against UIC.

Women’s Soccer

Owen: Sydney Bruckner- Soccer netminders have so much area to cover and somehow they still make saves. Sydney Bruckner has been in net for RMU for four seasons now and has climbed up the leaderboards to become one of the best goalies in team history. She sits fifth in wins, fourth in save percentage, and third in goals-against average.

Jon: Sheridan Reid- Despite only finding the net once this season, that hasn’t stopped Reid from trying. The sophomore from Camp Hill leads the Colonials with 20 attempted shots on the season. Sooner or later, the shots will start falling for Reid.


Nick: Kaoru Hayashi- Hayashi has given it her all to keep the women’s soccer team offense motoring along. With the conference recognizing her efforts by placing her on the all-conference second team, it appears that Chris Shaw got a real steal with her addition to the team.

Austin: Brittany O’Connell- A Norwin alum, the senior midfielder has been solid despite only one goal on the season, providing a former WPIAL player for RMU’s roster. I like seeing former WPIAL athletes succeed at the next level and O’Connell has had a nice career with the Colonials concluding this season.

Tyler: Kaoru Hayashi- The Snow College transfer has been a shot machine for the Colonials. While she only converted once, Hayashi consistently provided great scoring chances for the team, being rewarded by being named to the All-Horizon League Second Team.


Owen: Danielle Jason- Jason is the type of player that every team needs. A fast, smart, and hardworking ballplayer that is no stranger to dropping down a bunt. Jason is the Colonials’ go-to baserunner and could outrun a cheetah if it meant getting to second base in time.

Jon: Madison Riggle- In softball, it’s helpful to have both good pitching and good bats. Fortunately for RMU, Riggle represents both for the Colonials. On the mound, the Roseville, Ohio native has a 4.02 ERA, and in the batters’ box, has hit seven home runs, and driven in 21 runs.

Nick: Natalie Higgins- If RMU softball has a good day, it is safe to assume that Natalie Higgins played a significant role in it. She carries a big bat and knows how to smoke the ball all around the field and drive in her teammates when they need her to come through most.

Austin: Natalie Higgins- Higgins has been the driving force for RMU’s offense this season and has consistently been a solid run producer for years. No matter where she is on the field, Higgins brings consistent energy and leadership that is valued within the program, especially after returning this season due to last year being cut short with the pandemic.

Tyler: Dana Vatakis- While there is no true “ace” of the Colonials’ pitching staff, Vatakis has done her best ace impression after striking out the world this season, notching 83 as of May 6. A strong pitcher who works quickly, it’s hard to knock her out of her rhythm when she’s locked in.


Owen: Alyssa Hudak- I am a simple man. I enjoy watching a volleyball get smacked harder than the bags of dog food at Walmart. Hudak not only has one of the best names on campus due to it sounding an awful lot like “who dat” she also is a tremendous hitter for RMU volleyball.

Jon: Emma Granger- Despite missing part of the 2021 season due to injuries, Granger was still an impact in the games that she did partake in. Granger led the Colonials with 12 aces and averaged 2.52 points/set. She will be a key addition to next year’s team as she returns as a graduate senior.

Nick: Emma Granger- Granger is, perhaps, the most dominant force in the volleyball team’s history. Fans might have missed out on seeing her play to her full potential this season due to an injury, but that doesn’t take anything away from the feeling that you are watching something special when she takes the court.

Austin: Alyssa Hudak- Typically an outside hitter, Hudak swung from the right side a good amount this season and still found success in the RMU offense. She is a dynamic offensive threat and can be depended on for a kill when the team needs it, with a strong junior season as she continues to impress me with her abilities. Hudak is fun to watch and is a strong leader and presence wherever she may be in the front row.

Tyler: Nikolette Zanolli- Zanolli was extremely reliable and consistent at the libero position in prior years, and after a tough transition to the new conference over the first few games, she looked like the Zanolli of old over the last few games. Look for her to continue her great digging ability in her senior season.