Fourth Quarter Run Lifts Utah Over Robert Morris in Entertaining ASUN Tilt


Cameron Macariola

Elliot Holden scores twice in the losing effort against Utah.

Nathan Breisinger

MOON TOWNSHIP — There might not be a better matchup in the Atlantic Sun for lacrosse than Robert Morris and Utah. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the two teams have already etched themselves as the premiere matchup of the conference in just its second season.

The two teams, split by over 1,900 miles, faced each other twice last season with Utah taking the regular season tilt, but it was the Colonials that came away with an ASUN championship at the end of the season with an overtime victory over the Utes.

To make things even more interesting, the matchup features former RMU head coach Andrew McMinn, who is now in his second season with the Utes.

Traveling to Joe Walton Stadium marked the first time Utah has played in Moon Township and what was a wildly entertaining contest through three quarters saw the Utes pull away with a 26-16 win over the Colonials.

Despite the outcome, Robert Morris (4-6, 1-4 ASUN) battled throughout the game, which included erasing a five-goal deficit heading into halftime.

“Our guys played really hard,” head coach Craig McDonald said. “I’m proud of the effort. We were down in the first and clawed back in the second quarter to be down one at half.”

A championship game that produced 35 goals a year ago foreshadowed an even greater goal total in the 2023 regular season contest as 42 goals summed up an electrifying game. In the first half, goals came one after the other.

Neither team grabbed momentum in the first quarter, but Utah (6-4, 5-0 ASUN) finally put three goals behind Colonials’ goalkeeper Kyle Reihner – who was making his second-ever start for RMU – in the span of 36 seconds.

Jordan Hyde was an instrumental factor in the Utes victory, including two goals in 23 seconds, which was a part of that quick strike run for Utah.

“Every time they had the ball and had an opportunity, they made us pay for it,” McDonald said about Utah’s offense.

While Utah had several short goal runs during the early-goings of the second quarter, Robert Morris started to mount a comeback before halftime. In just over two minutes, the Colonials tallied four goals behind Colin Lenskold.

Two of the goals came off the stick of Elliot Holden who had plenty of room to pick his spot and fire each goal home, including one on the man advantage.

Still trailing by a goal, Robert Morris leaned on their long-stick defenders to provide some offense as James Christoforatos wired one home to tie the game up at 12-12. With the goal, the Colonials’ bench and faithful exploded.

“The guys on the bench did a great job and had the energy,” McDonald said. “That’s what we ask our guys through highs and lows and through positives and negatives is to continue to have great energy and to continue to put the same type of focus no matter what the scoreboard says.”

The celebration would be short-lived as Utah continued to show why it’s one of the top teams in the conference as well as a nationally-respected program after receiving votes in the most recent Inside Lacrosse rankings.

Scoring nearly 19 goals per conference game, the Utah offense relied on MJ McMahon and Koa Todd to help push the Utes back into the driver’s seat.

While the Colonials trailed just by three goals, Todd scored back-to-back goals which included a man-up goal to start the fourth quarter. From there, Utah would add to that as the Utes put together an eight-goal run to blow the doors open.

“At times it [the game] got away from us a little bit,” McDonald said. “It was a close game for most of it, and then they went on one run at the end of the third quarter, and at the start of the fourth they pulled away.”

Just as Utah poured on the offense, the Colonials went quiet. RMU was held without a goal for nearly 13 minutes stretching from the third quarter all the way to the midpoint of the fourth.

“We struggled getting possessions; we couldn’t make stops on defense; we couldn’t make saves; we weren’t winning faceoffs,” McDonald expressed. “They did a good job on defense, but I think we had great opportunities when we were able to get the ball down there for our offense.”

Although Robert Morris dropped to 1-4 in conference after a 10-goal loss, the score was not a true representation of the Colonials’ effort as they showed a lot of heart against a tough and talented Utah team. The energy was certainly there, but RMU is now amidst a three game conference losing skid.

Bellarmine comes to Joe Walton Stadium on Wednesday and the Colonials will need to forget about the Utah loss and focus on what’s ahead with the final stretch approaching.

Game time between the Colonials and Knights is set for 4 p.m.