Young Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team’s record may be deceiving

Womens+lacrosse+celebrates+a+goal+against+Canisius.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Women’s lacrosse celebrates a goal against Canisius. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Cameron Macariola, Contributor

As the Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team passed the mid-way point of their season, let’s take a look back at how they have handled the beginning of the 2022 campaign.

It has been a tale of two stories for the Colonials. They remain undefeated in MAC play and have been a perfect 5-0, but in non-conference play, they have been a staggering 0-6.

The team had many questions to address coming off of their first NCAA Tournament berth in program history, such as:

  • Will they be as dominant in the MAC as they were last year?
  • How will the Gandy twins’ departure affect the team?
  • Who will step up to fill in the shoes the 2021 senior class left behind?

One thing we did know coming into the season is that this was a young Colonial team, as 22 of the 33 players on the roster are underclassmen.

The season started with a trip to Columbus where the young Colonials were in for a rude awakening and fell to the Buckeyes by a score of 17-5.

Jenna Irwin, a freshman who currently leads the roster in goals, spoke about being thrown into the fire like that right away.

“It was obviously going to be hard to jump into Ohio State in our first game ever,” Irwin said. “[Ohio State] ultimately got us ready for the rest of the season. We immediately got film on that game so we could see what we had to work on.”

RMU continued non-conference play in their home opener against Canisius. The Colonials fell in this one by a score of 16-11.

The Colonials followed by opening up their conference play as they faced off against Detroit Mercy, where a five-goal day by Irwin carried the Colonials to a 17-9 victory,

In the next few weeks, the Colonials won their two conference games against Kent State and Akron and fell to non-conference opponents Bucknell and Liberty.

Central Michigan came to town after and this would be the Colonials’ toughest MAC opponent to date. 13 goals from the Chippewas’ Kelly Hoyt, Audrey Whiteside and Courtney Burke challenged the Colonials, but a great team effort led by Jordan Anderson, Irwin and Colleen Tifft pushed the Colonials to a 17-16 win.

After a huge conference win, the Colonials kept pace with UMBC for 3 quarters before the Retrievers ran away with the game led by NCAA top-ten goal scorer in Claire Bockstie, who scored eight goals on the day and defeated the Colonials by a score of 25-15.

In the most recent week of play, the Colonials traveled to Youngstown where they faced the growing rival Penguins. They met the Penguins’ two-headed monster in Erin Clark and Natalie Calandra-Ryan, who both sit in the top 25 in the NCAA in assists and goals, respectively. Calandra-Ryan was shut down by the Colonials’ defense, only scoring one goal.

Robert Morris’ leading scorer Jenna Irwin was was shut down this game as well, scoring a single goal, but the team mentality that Coach Katrina Silva has built came to fruition as Jerica Obee, Colleen Tifft and Julia Koterwas scored hat-tricks. Robert Morris returned to Moon at a .500 record after the 18-7 victory.

In their final non-conference game, the Colonials had another top-ten goal scorer they would need to tame, Kylie Nause from Cincinnati. The Colonials kept Nause down and only found her name on the score sheet just once. Despite this, the Colonials fell 12-8 at home to the Bearcats.

This concluded the Colonials’ non-conference slate, and despite being 0-6, this should not worry the team. This is what Coach Silva wanted for the team, to face tough opponents and build a tournament atmosphere in their non-conference schedule.

“I wanted to challenge us. I wanted to play a really hard non-conference schedule,” Silva said after their loss to Cincinnati. “We think we can take care of things in the MAC, therefore our non-conference games are going to be what get us ready for championships, and when we win the MAC championship and move on those teams are really good too.”

This team is oozing with confidence, and you can see it up and down the sidelines. They believe they will be back-to-back MAC champs and no one will stop them.

Some major players that have helped them to where they are today are Jenna Irwin, Madison Griffin and Jamie Keller.

Irwin was the MAC Offensive Player of the Week at CMU and UMBC. Irwin is leading the team with 25 goals and tied with Jerica Obee for the team lead in points with 27.

Before that, senior goaltender Jamie Keller won MAC Defensive Player of the Week. Keller currently has a .400 save percentage and 14.41 goals-against average.

Madison Griffin has led the Colonials in ground balls with 36 and caused turnovers. Also, Griffin is second to Jordan Anderson in draw controls with 36. Griffin has taken home two consecutive Defensive Player of the Week awards.

The road from here on out is all conference play for the Colonials, where they fully expect their MAC season to end at the Joe with a ring on their fingers once again.