Colonials to face no. 5 Notre Dame in first-ever NCAA Tournament game

Robert+Morris+women%27s+lacrosse+will+look+to+unseat+no.+5+Notre+Dame+in+the+NCAA+Tournament.+Photo%28s%29+Credit%3A+Notre+Dame+Athletics%2C+Tyler+Gallo

Robert Morris women’s lacrosse will look to unseat no. 5 Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. Photo(s) Credit: Notre Dame Athletics, Tyler Gallo

By Nathan Breisinger, Sports Multimedia Editor

For the first time in program history, the Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team is bound for the national stage. The Colonials will match up with no. 5 Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on May 14.

In their first year in the Mid-American Conference, the Colonials completed their best season in program history with a 14-2 record and their first-ever conference championship title.

RMU FAST FACTS:

After transitioning from the NEC to the MAC, Robert Morris captured their first-ever conference championship posting an undefeated conference record of 10-0. The Colonials defied the preseason odds set against them as they were tabbed to finish second in MAC play behind Central Michigan. RMU promptly beat the Chippewas twice this season, outscoring them 32-17 en route to their conference title.

RMU led all teams in the nation with 26.12 ground balls per game, along with 12.88 caused turnovers per contest, which was third-best in the NCAA. The Colonials also led nearly every offensive statistical category in the MAC, including first in goals per game with 15.63.

With an extra year of eligibility awarded to last year’s seniors, several players took advantage of the opportunity to break program records. Mackenzie Gandy became the program’s all-time leader in points with point number 180 against Fresno State as she passed Ashley Levering. Since then, Mackenzie has added to her points total, registering 240 in her career. She also became Robert Morris’s all-time leader in goals with goal number 129 as she now has 149 career goals.

Melanie Gandy also etched her name in the program record book as she is now the all-time leader in assists with 105. She also sits behind her twin sister for second all-time in points in program history.

In the team’s second to last contest of the season, defender Kelly Colegrove became the program’s all-time leader in caused turnovers with 134. Colegrove also earned MAC Defensive Player of the Week this season. Madison Burke and Shea McArdle join Colegrove to complete the graduate senior defensive trio that has played stellar in front of goalkeeper Katelyn Miller.

Miller has been the backbone of the Colonials program since she stepped on campus, starting 74 straight games in the cage. She concluded her regular-season career by being named MAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Along with the six graduate seniors leading the way, the Colonials welcomed an additional 12 freshmen to their roster. Olivia Rupert, Kathleen Kelly, Isabelle Robarge, Gianna Anthony, Lilli Hadden, Mackenzie Bell and Julia Davies all scored for the Colonials in their rookie campaigns.

NOTRE DAME FAST FACTS:

Notre Dame concluded their season with a record of 9-6. The Fighting Irish finished fourth in the ACC standings and would take on Duke in the quarterfinals of their conference tournament where they went on to win 17-16. However, Notre Dame fell in the semifinals to North Carolina 18-4.

In the most recent women’s lacrosse polls of the season, Notre Dame was ranked no. 5 which is where they subsequently placed in the NCAA D1 bracket.

Over the course of the season, Notre Dame knocked off five top-25 ranked opponents, including a win against no. 7 Virginia and twice against top-10 ranked Duke.

The Fighting Irish rank in the middle-of-the-pack in most statistical categories in the ACC. They are a potent squad on the man-up advantage with 1.4 goals per game, which is second-best in the ACC.

Goalkeeper Bridget Deehan has been a reliable player for the Fighting Irish as she averages 9.33 saves per game, most in the conference. Deehan was named Defensive Player of the Week both by the ACC and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association on March 30. She was also just one of two goalies nominated for the 2021 Tewaaraton Award.

Kasey Choma led all Irish players with 42 points on the season with Madison Ahern and Jackie Wolak trailing Choma with 40 points, respectively.

Earlier this season, Notre Dame faced off against Robert Morris in a non-conference matchup where the Fighting Irish took care of business with a 16-2 victory. In that contest, Maddie Howe paced Notre Dame with six points as eight different Fighting Irish players netted a goal.

With redemption on their mind, Robert Morris will aim to upset the no. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.