Colonials claim ASUN Championship in overtime against Utah

The+mens+lacrosse+team+poses+for+a+team+photo+after+their+overtime+win+vs+Utah+Photo+credit%3A+RMU+Athletics

The men’s lacrosse team poses for a team photo after their overtime win vs Utah Photo credit: RMU Athletics

By Nathan Breisinger, Editor-in-Chief

It was an emotional ride for the Robert Morris in 2022 that ended with an ASUN Championship on Saturday. The entire season boiled down to an overtime moment when Elliot Holden turned and fired a shot that made its way into the cage. A celebration then ensued on the field as the Colonials defeated Utah, 18-17.

Before the matchup, the Colonials went 4-1 in conference play during the inaugural ASUN season. The Colonials moved into the conference tournament as the second seed, where they outlasted Air Force 9-7 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.

There could not have been a better script for the Colonials entering the championship contest as they got another crack at former head coach Andrew McMinn and the Utah Utes.

Three weeks ago, the Utes had their way with RMU in Salt Lake City, winning 18-8. Unforced errors cost the Colonials and Utah flexed their muscles all game long.

This time, the Colonials had redemption on their mind as they aimed to spoil a perfect season in the ASUN Conference for the Utes, who were coming off of an overtime victory against Bellarmine in the semifinals.

In the early moments of the matchup, all signs were pointing at a run-away win for the Utes as they jumped out to a 6-2 lead. Utah was scoring with ease as their top guns Jordan Hyde and Josh Stout started the scoring the Utes.

Following Utah’s fifth goal, first-year head coach Craig McDonald called a timeout for Robert Morris to settle his team down. McDonald also made an important change in the cage during the timeout as he replaced freshman goalkeeper Nate Randall with graduate senior Ben Savick. Typically, McDonald makes the goalkeeping change during halftime but felt a change needed to be made at that moment.

After the timeout, the Colonials began to receive scoring from their potent producers, including Jake Boudreau, who broke out with a seven-goal game, earning himself the ASUN Championship MVP.

Unlike the matchup in Salt Lake City, RMU stayed in stride with the Utes step for step. Taggart Clark, Colton Lidstone and Elliot Holden all scored to keep them on pace with Utah.

The Colonials were nearly tied heading into the second half, but Tyler Bradbury gave the Utes a one-goal edge with four seconds left.

Both teams remained locked throughout the second half with no room for error. Anytime Utah stepped ahead, the Colonials responded, and vice versa.

With 7:28 left in regulation, Utah grabbed their first multi-goal lead since the first three minutes of the third quarter.

It was then the graduate seniors Corson Kealey and Boudreau who scored to help tie the game. Boudreau’s goal came with 55 seconds left in the game.

Overtime was needed to decide the ASUN champion. The Utes were coming off of an overtime win against Bellarmine, whereas the Colonials were unfamiliar with sudden death in 2022 but not strangers to close contests.

Robert Morris controlled play from the start of overtime after a face-off violation awarded the Colonials the ball. Nearly two minutes into the four-minute overtime period, Elliot Holden fended off Utah defender Josh Rose to create space as he then turned and fired a shot from the left side of the cage. The shot flew into the net past Zion Dechesere for the Robert Morris victory.

With the overtime winner, the Colonials pulled off an electrifying upset to take down an impressive Utah team, who was in and out of the top 20 polls all season long.

The Colonials overcame early adversity and controlled the ball increasingly better than in their first matchup with Utah. In an area that hurt them in the loss to Utah on April 16, the Colonials only had 11 turnovers in the championship game compared to 19.

A lot of credit also has to go to Craig McDonald, who led the Colonials to a championship and now an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first year with the program. There were plenty of question marks entering the 2022 season surrounding the Colonials. Still, McDonald pushed the right buttons and made the proper adjustments throughout the season to prevail.

As for now, the Colonials await their opponent for the NCAA Tournament, which will be their third appearance in five years.

The selection show will be Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on ESPNU.