RMU Women’s Soccer Notches Win in Season Opener


One of the two Colonial goal scorers Gabriella Lecuona pushes the ball ahead against VMI. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

Nathan Breisinger

Year number three in the Chris Shaw era commenced on Thursday afternoon as they welcomed the Virginia Military Institute Keydets to the North Athletic Complex.

For the first time since 2018, the Colonials notched a win in their season opener as they shut out the Keydets, 2-0.

For the season opener, the Colonials showed some areas that needed work but also flashed some moments of mid-season form, especially in the latter half of the match.

The Colonials netted their first goal of the season at the 15-minute mark of the first half as senior Sheridan Reid received a beautiful cross from freshman Renae Mohrbacher to boot it past VMI goalkeeper Jillian Hall.

To start the second half, Shaw made some personnel changes on the field, which included subbing in Gabriella Lecuona who made her presence known quickly. Just over a minute into the half, Lecuona was rewarded for her hard work as she put the Colonials up 2-0.

“When she is playing with confidence, she’s fantastic,” Shaw said. “For her to come in and score a goal right off the bat and have some success definitely should boost her confidence.”

Lecuona continued to be a focal point on the field for the Colonials with several other strong chances, including one that was denied by the Keydets’ goalkeeper. Shaw believes today’s performance from Lecuona is a glimpse of what she could be this season.

“I’ve told her for the last three years that she could be one of the most dangerous players in the conference, she’s just got to want to be one of the most dangerous players in the conference,” Shaw said.

After the Colonials cushioned their lead, they locked down defensively, nearly controlling the ball for the entire second half.

“VMI came out in a 3-5-2 in the first half and personally I think the 3-5-2 is one of the hardest systems to play against and it gave us some issues in the first half defensively,” Shaw said. “We made some adjustments and the players came out with a renewed focus and a different system which nullified what VMI was successful in doing in the first half.”

As the game ticked away, the Colonials continued to hound VMI and snuffed out any attempts to get it past midfield. While the veteran players for Robert Morris led the way, the new group of freshmen also contributed to the team’s performance.

Two Western Pennsylvania products in Emerson Johngarlo and Malia Kearns played nearly every minute of their collegiate debuts. Freshman Elisa Corvalan and right-back Cali Laymon both made their first collegiate starts as they aided in the winning effort.

“This freshmen class we brought in is very talented coupled with not losing much last year, so it’s really a good group,” Shaw said.

With one down and 17 games remaining, Shaw will use the contest with VMI as a stepping stone into the rest of the season.

“We want to be a possession-based team and we want to keep the ball at all costs and sometimes I felt we coughed it up sometimes too easily,” Shaw said. “I think we need to be better in the attacking third. We created a number of opportunities today, but I felt like we should have snuck another goal or two.

Robert Morris will get two days rest and be back on the pitch on Sunday, Aug. 21 as they will face a nearby rival and former NEC foe Saint Francis. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. at the North Athletic Complex.