Robert Morris Dominates IUPUI; Advance to Horizon League Tournament


Shane McMillan records his first career collegiate goal in a 5-0 win over IUPUI. Photo Credit: Samantha Dutch

Michael Deemer

MOON TOWNSHIP — Coming into Wednesday, the Colonials needed a win to qualify for the Horizon League Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Robert Morris (5-7-2, 3-3-2 Horizon) took on the IUPUI Jaguars (5-5-6, 4-1-3) in hopes of keeping its season alive and the Colonials did exactly that with a dominating 5-0 win.

Along with the impressive win, It was senior day at the North Athletic Complex. The Colonials honored two seniors Wednesday afternoon. Midfielder Ethan Romito from Annapolis, Md., and forward Jon Faynik from Duluth, Minn.

“As a senior on senior day, having the performance these guys put in today, I’m really proud of this team. I couldn’t have imagined it going any better,” Romito said.

The Colonials applied pressure early as they had the ball in the attacking third throughout most of the first half, having four of their first five shots being on target.

One of the many advantages Robert Morris had was on special teams, as RMU had six corner kicks in the first half alone. It proved to be as the Colonials found one of the corners to break through. Anass Hadran’s far-side cross found the head of freshman Shane McMillan to put the Colonials on the board first for the first goal of his collegiate career.

The attack did not stop from the Colonials as they found the back of the net from Evan Lamarca with seconds remaining in the half, scoring his first goal of the season.

Head coach Jason O’Keefe spoke on the unlikely names to be on the scoresheet.

“Those guys show up every day, work hard and get better,” O’Keefe said. “They want the team to do well. When you have that approach, things are bound to happen. I know [Lamarca] had one against Green Bay that he just missed so it was good to see him get one.”

The second half was the same story. The Colonials continued to put on the gas pedal. Hugo Kadima was on a one-on-one with the keeper. Kadima went far post and hit the woodwork.

A few minutes later, the Colonials tried to cross to the center but went off the hand of a Jaguar, setting up a penalty kick for Chase Gilley. The junior went bottom-left corner to extend the lead for the team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Chase Gilley lines up for a penalty kick. Photo Credit: Samantha Dutch

In the 64th minute, Bryan Akongo got by a Jaguar defender and was off to the races. The sophomore centered it to Viktor Koah for his second goal of the season.

In the 79th minute, Darren Gray kept the theme going, crossing another ball into the box and finding the right foot of Shane McMillan again for his second goal of the day.

“Shane is a goalscorer,” O’Keefe said. “That’s what we recruited him to do. He’s a freshman and still learning to grow. He said, ‘once I get one, I’ll get two.’ I even told him to calm down and focus on the game. Sure enough, he got another one. I have no doubt that’s he going to have a bright career here.”

McMillan’s first two goals of his collegiate career, especially in an important matchup, was a big moment for him.

“I wanted to get the first one to get my confidence up,” McMillan said. “Playing Division I is a task. Getting the first one really boosted my confidence and I couldn’t have asked for better balls from my teammates. They just put it right on my foot.”

As the full-time whistle sounded, the Colonials officially clinched their spot in the Horizon League Tournament for the second consecutive year, moving up as the fifth seed.

O’Keefe, Romito and McMillan are not looking too far ahead, looking only at the first game.

“We eeked and limped in last year, but this year we are looking more durable now and added depth. I hope that translates into winning our first game. That’s all I care about, winning the first game.”

Romito echoced O’Keefe’s sentiments by just taking things one game at a time.

“We’re not even thinking about the [deep playoff] run. We’re just looking at the first game.”

The Colonials will face the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Sunday, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.