FINAL: Robert Morris 1, Mt. St. Mary’s 0
From Robert Morris University report
With the arrival of Northeast Conference play, the Robert Morris University women’s soccer team lifted its level accordingly, earning a convincing 1-0 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday afternoon at the North Athletic Complex.
Freshman striker Kayla Veloso-Lima‘s first-half penalty kick provided the winning margin, but this result was as much about a team-wide performance as any all season.
The Colonials (3-5-1, 1-0-0 NEC) launched a season-high 24 shots, doubling up the Mountaineers in that category as they got an early leg up on league competition.
“I think we were just right on top of them from the beginning,” said senior defender Megan DiNatale. “We really needed this win, being the first game in conference. We were really enthusiastic and ready to go. I think it was just passion.”
The match started with RMU generating the first four shots, with co-captains Kristina Kelley and Brittany O’Connell each narrowly missing chances from inside the Mount penalty area. The visitors settled in a bit from there, but couldn’t capitalize on a 10-minute surge before the half-hour mark.
On 29 minutes, Veloso-Lima rose high to meet a cross, nodding it into charging Mount keeper Maggie Barron. Following the bang-bang save, Barron plowed through Veloso-Lima, triggering a whistle and a penalty. For the second time this season, RMU’s first-year forward converted from the spot, tucking her shot low into the left-side netting.
Veloso-Lima’s third goal in her first nine NCAA games tied the New Jersey native with classmate Sheridan Reid for the team scoring lead. Six of RMU’s nine goals to date have been netted by freshmen.
The second half was even better for the Colonials, even though they couldn’t add to their lead. Central defenders Allie Ball and Courtney Hurey were rock-solid in front of keeper Sydney Bruckner, who didn’t have to be spectacular in recording a four-save clean sheet. RMU outshot the Mount 16-4 in the second half, keeping the ball away from the Mountaineers (1-8-1, 0-2-0) for long stretches.
“We knew if we could take away the midfield, they couldn’t get their connection to their forwards,” RMU head coach John Kowalski said. “We played much more connected in the second half.”
Bruckner, a junior, has seven career shutouts, tying her with Becky Schoenecker ’15 for the fourth-most in program history.
“She’s just a lifesaver in almost all of our games,” DiNatalie said of Bruckner. “She’s crucial to our team. If we can get her all the way to the top, we will.”
Although Veloso-Lima (seven shots, four on goal) and Sofie Lien Fagereng (four shots, two on target) were unable to convert a second goal during a late flurry, Robert Morris rode out the final minutes with little incident. That’s not to say it was easy, because it never is with a one-goal advantage.
“It’s a lot more intense,” DiNatale said. “You know everything’s on the line and we’re only one goal ahead. We dropped back our midfield and got more defensive. We were successful.”
RMU will take a week off after this result, returning to the NAC next Sunday to host Bryant at 1 p.m.