Robert Morris Women’s Soccer’s best start in program history marks a turnaround heading into conference play

The+Colonials+run+onto+the+field+against+Delaware+State+on+September+11%2C+2022+Photo+credit%3A+Ellie+Whittington

The Colonials run onto the field against Delaware State on September 11, 2022 Photo credit: Ellie Whittington

By Cam Wickline

The Robert Morris Women’s soccer team is off to a 5-0-3 start, the best in program history.

Coming off a 6-10-3 record and 10th-place finish in the Horizon League last season, the Colonials are on pace to fly past their win total from last year. This is not by coincidence but rather a culmination of hard work by Head Coach Chris Shaw and his team.

Shaw came to Robert Morris at the end of 2019 and had the job of taking over a program that had not won more than six games in the past four years. He was tasked with turning the program around and has successfully improved his win total every year at RMU.

“Getting off to the best start in program history is not just indicative of this year; it’s the foundation that was laid when I first got here and trying to build a style of play and a culture.” Coach Shaw said.

Although Shaw has done an admirable job, he says he cannot take all the credit.

“If you want to improve a program, I’m not naive enough to think that I can change a program just with my coaching,” he said. “I need quality players to do that, and that’s what we’ve brought in. We’ve brought in some really good players.”

Good players are exactly what Shaw has.

Junior forward Haleigh Finale has been on a tear to start the season with three goals and two assists to start the year, good enough for a tie for the team lead in both goals and points.

The other player tied with Finale has been Gabriella Lecuona. The most impressive part of Lecuona’s game is that she has put up those numbers coming off the bench. The Colonials have been getting steady help throughout their bench. Gabriella Lecuona, Paloma Swankler, and Kayla Veloso-Lima are all in the top five-point scores on the team, and all three of them come off the bench.

“In years past, I thought we were a bit thinner.” Coach Shaw explained. “We didn’t really have players that could come off the bench and make an immediate impact. Now Gabby [Lecuona] can come off the bench and make things happen. Kayla Veloso-Lima has come off the bench and scored some goals for us. Paloma [Swankler] comes off the bench and gives us energy, as well as a number of other players…From that standpoint, having depth is always huge.”

While the Colonials have been putting pressure on opponents’ goaltenders by averaging 19 shots per game, the defense has been elite this year by allowing opponents to get off a measly seven shots per game.

When those few shots do get through, they have been getting shut down by redshirt senior goaltender Isabella Bohlen. Bohlen has been nothing short of impressive to start her fifth season, allowing just four goals over eight games, good for half of a goal per game.

“Anytime your back line has confidence in the goalkeeper, it’s a huge boost” Shaw said. “[Bohlen] has been fantastic this year. She’s playing with confidence. It makes a huge difference to have a presence back there and some leadership and someone that the players feel confident with them behind them.”

While the Colonials are happy to get off to such a hot start, Coach Shaw says that they are not satisfied with the job not yet finished.

“I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t feel good to be off to the best start in program history, but I’m more concerned with having the best finish in program history.”

With Horizon League play underway yesterday, the Colonials look to continue to push forward and take the following steps to reach the Horizon League Tournament when the calendar hits November.