Milwaukee’s Gratton scores 2; Panthers defeat Colonials 2-1

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Photo by Tyler Gallo

Gustaf Moberg carries the ball against Milwaukee.

By Michael Deemer, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– After a heartbreaking defeat against Xavier on Wednesday, Robert Morris (1-5, 1-1 Horizon) returned to the North Athletic Complex as they took on Milwaukee (3-3, 2-0 Horizon) for their first home game in Horizon League play.

Despite an all-around solid effort and a late tally by Tom Akinola, the defending Horizon League champion Panthers rolled out with a 2-1 win.

It did not take long for the score to change. A shot by Paolo Gratton got the Panthers on the board in the 20th minute. That was the junior’s first goal of the season.

After that, the Colonials had several good chances, including a shot by Noe Bijou that just went over the bar just a couple of minutes before the first half came to a close.

As the second half started, the Panthers came out firing on all cylinders. Just a minute into the second half, Gratton scored another for the Panthers as he head it in for his second of the game.

Coach O’Keefe shared the importance of allowing that goal so early in the second period.

“I think we can do better and I think our mentality is growing and just got to continue to understand those critical moments; the first five minutes of a game, last five minutes of a half, first five minutes of a half, last five minutes of a game. We didn’t in the first five minutes of the second half. We did in the last five minutes of the game. We’ve just got to learn from it.”

A dominating second half by the Panthers seemed to put the game out of reach as the Colonials struggled to put up a shot on goal in the stat sheet. That was until the 87th minute when Tom Akinola headed it in for the Colonials only shot on goal to cut the lead in half, his first collegiate goal.

The junior’s goal was too little too late as the Panthers held their own to preserve the win. Last Saturday’s win against Northern Kentucky remains the only victory this fall for RMU.

“Anytime we were dangerous in the attacking third, we wanted to secure more balls and be more dangerous and get some traffic at their goal, and we didn’t do a good job of that early until the last 20 minutes,” O’Keefe said. “We want to be a more dynamic attacking team but at the end of the day, you have to execute and keep working on it.”

The Colonials travel to Loretto, Pa. on Wednesday to face Saint Francis. This will be their first matchup with the Red Flash since the Colonials left the Northeast conference in 2020.