High expectations for women’s lacrosse in their second MAC season

Womens+lacrosse+gets+set+to+defend+their+MAC+crown.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Women’s lacrosse gets set to defend their MAC crown. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Nathan Breisinger, Editor in Chief

While some teams struggle to make a name for themselves when transitioning into a new conference, the Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team felt right at home in their inaugural season in the Mid-American Conference.

2021 was a special campaign for the Colonials as their squad boasted seven graduate seniors, along with a stockpile of traditional seniors.

Success was imminent for the women’s lacrosse team last year as they put together a flawless conference schedule, finishing 10-0 and earning the MAC regular-season crown.

“We worked hard in the NEC for so long,” graduate senior Kelley Flynn said. “To have our entire school switch conferences, we really were able to make a huge statement in our first year in the MAC.”

With RMU winning at ease last year, it all came to the forefront when they appeared in their first-ever NCAA Tournament. For the second time that season, the Colonials would battle the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Despite the 16-0 blanking, the team is using it as fuel for the impending season.

“Especially being able to go to the NCAA Tournament I don’t think we expect anything less,” graduate senior Madison Griffin said. “If anything we expect to improve every year.”

Heading into the 2022 slate, the Colonials have experienced a drastic turnover in talent on the roster. However, head coach Katrina Silva is a firm believer that this team is capable of continuing the program’s success, especially with the strong team culture.

“The one thing about Robert Morris women’s lacrosse is these girls really love each other,” Silva said. “They work hard for each other. They spend a lot of time together and they love to see each other succeed.”

The Colonials will need to mesh early as they look to have new players fill significant roles. From last season, the team loses the dynamic twin-sister duo of Mackenzie and Melanie Gandy. Mackenzie became the most prolific women’s lacrosse player in program history after breaking the records for all-time points and goals, while Melanie holds the record for most assists.

RMU will also have to replace Clio Kerr, who was an integral member of the offense, along with a trio of top-tier defenders in Madison Burke, Kelly Colegrove and Shea McArdle. On top of that, the 2021 MAC goalkeeper of the year, Katelyn Miller will also need to be replaced.

“We lost 13 kids and all of those major contributors,” Silva said. “We are looking for [goalkeeper] Jamie Keller to really step up. On offense, it’s going to be a whole new group. Our team is playing a new style and excited to use new people. Our team has a lot of depth and we are trying to navigate all these different areas.”

Several other players who will be expected to step up this season include the aforementioned Flynn and Griffin as well as seniors Emilie Kim, Bailey Christianson, Alex Eckert and Kelsey Nelson.

Junior Jordan Anderson, who earned All-MAC First Team honors last year, will be a pivotal member of the offense and expects several younger players to provide value for the team.

“We have a transfer, Jerica [Obee], that came in and Julia Koterwas is really stepping up on attack,” Anderson said. “We have a few freshmen that are really good.”

Entering a clean slate following last year’s dominance, the team expectations have reached a new level.

“Win the MAC,” Silva said. “That’s where we were and that’s where we want to be. We want to be champions. Then we want to go on to the NCAA Tournament and have a better showing than we did a year ago. This time we will be prepared.”

The Colonials commence their 2022 schedule with a trip to Ohio State on Sat. Feb. 12.