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Kelley’s second-half strike delivers road victory for Robert Morris women

Photo courtesy Robert Morris athletics

FINAL: Robert Morris 1, Merrimack 0 

From Robert Morris University athletic department report

Senior midfielder Kristina Kelley scored her 14th career NCAA goal and junior keeper Sydney Bruckner stopped all seven shots on frame as the Robert Morris University women’s soccer team took a 1-0 decision from Northeast Conference newcomer Merrimack on Sunday afternoon.

Receiving a 59th-minute cross from freshman Gabriella Lecuona on the right flank, Kelley struck an accurate shot inside the left post to provide the game’s only tally. A team co-captain, Kelley is now one goal shy of the program’s all-time top five with one match to play. 

With the backing of Bruckner, who was forced into a couple diving saves to preserve her fourth clean sheet of the season, the Colonials (4-10-2, 3-5-1 NEC) made it seven straight years with at least four results in league play. On the heels of a 5-2 loss to Central Connecticut on Friday that eliminated RMU from the NEC tournament, Sunday’s match in blustery New England was no picnic.

“Wasn’t easy,” head coach John Kowalski said. “Very difficult conditions, slippery field, ball skipping. However, a good win for us. (Kelley) scored a great goal and (Lecuona) has good attacking abilities.”

The assist on Kelley’s goal was the first NCAA point for Lecuona, who missed three weeks in the middle of the season due to injury. The native of Chambersburg, Pa., is the fourth RMU freshman to earn a point this season, along with Kayla Veloso-Lima (four goals, two assists), Sheridan Reid (four goals, one assist) and Colleen Sullivan (two assists).

As for Bruckner, her workhorse season nears its conclusion. Due to an injury to senior Julia Schmid, Bruckner has played in all 17 matches for the Colonials, starting 15 of those. Her nine career shutouts at RMU rank fourth in team history, and her .823 save percentage is on pace to be one of the five best single-season marks by a Colonials keeper.

The 28th edition of RMU women’s soccer has one match remaining: Senior Day at the North Athletic Complex. The Colonials will kick it off against St. Francis Brooklyn at 12:30 p.m. Friday, with Schmid, Kelley, Nicolette Casarcia and Megan DiNatale set to be honored prior to the match.

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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