Robert Morris to take on Youngstown State in MAC Tournament semifinals

YSUs+Tristen+Chang+defends+Julia+Davies+in+YSUs+victory+over+Robert+Morris.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

YSU’s Tristen Chang defends Julia Davies in YSU’s victory over Robert Morris. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Cameron Macariola, Contributor

After being nearly perfect for another season of MAC play and winning its first 18 conference games, Robert Morris dropped the final two games of the season to Central Michigan and Youngstown State, and the right to host the MAC Tournament this season.

These two losses dropped the Colonials into a three-way tie with both the Penguins and Chippewas, deeming all three co-regular season champions, and giving hosting rights to Central Michigan.

In RMU’s matchups against Youngstown State, both road teams pulled off the win. In late March, the Colonials defeated the Penguins by a score of 18-7, and then the Penguins ended the regular season with the last laugh, pulling off the 19-17 upset.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: ROBERT MORRIS

It has been a roller-coaster of a season for Katrina Silva’s squad. The team was finding a new identity all year long as 22 out of the 33 players on the roster are underclassmen. Freshman Jenna Irwin lead the team in goals this season with 34.

The Colonials started the season off winless in non-conference play, falling to tough opponents in Ohio State, Canisius, Bucknell, Liberty, UMBC and Cincinnati.

Despite the rough non-conference road, they believed in themselves to dominate MAC play, and for most of the season, that’s exactly what they did. Their biggest win came on Mar. 16, when they defeated Central Michigan at home by a score of 17-16.

The junior class had a huge part in Robert Morris’ dominant MAC play. Colleen Tifft, Jerica Obee and Julia Koterwas had huge years for the Colonials, combining for a total of 108 points.

At the end of the season, the Colonials needed to win one game to clinch the MAC regular-season championship but were unable to do so as they fell by one goal at Central Michigan and dropped the final game to the Penguins.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: YOUNGSTOWN STATE

Youngstown State, led by MAC coach of the year Theresa Walton, quietly found their way to the top of MAC this season.

Out of the gates, the team squeaked by with two overtime wins over Akron and Detroit Mercy and won a 21-20 game over Kent State.

Following those wins, the team would go on a four-game losing streak where they fell to both Robert Morris and Central Michigan.

Following the four-game skid, the Penguins caught fire, wrapping up the season on a five-game win streak and knocking off the top dogs in the conference, pulling off upsets of Central Michigan and Robert Morris.

The team was led by MAC freshman of the year Natalie Calandra-Ryan who finished the season tied for no. 10 in the nation in goals with 62 goals in 17 games.

AWARDS

Players from both sides took home some hardware for their play this season.

Robert Morris’ Madison Griffin took home MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Griffin had 48 ground balls and 35 caused turnovers.

Robert Morris’ Jamie Keller won MAC goaltender of the year as she made 140 saves and rocked a .428 save percentage.

Jamie Keller, Madison Griffin and Jenna Irwin alongside Youngstown’s Aryss Lindsey and Natalie Calandra-Ryan all took home All-MAC First Team.

Jordan Anderson, Colleen Tifft, Jerica Obee and Youngstown’s Ali Korin, Erin Clark, and Savannah Clarke all made the All-MAC Second Team.

Robert Morris will look to avenge their late-season struggles and pull out a first-round victory over the Penguins, hoping for a date with host Central Michigan for all the marbles.