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Robert Morris men finish season just short of NEC playoff berth

Junior back Matt Cillo had one of RMU's scoring chances Sunday. (Jason Cohn/RMU)

Robert Morris’ men’s soccer team narrowly missed out on qualifying for its third Northeast Conference tournament in five years, as it fell 3-0 at Saint Francis U. on Sunday afternoon at Stokes Soccerplex.

A first-half penalty kick for SFU leading scorer Lucas Rosa was all the offense the Red Flash (10-5-0, 7-2-0 NEC) needed to both win the game and lock up the No. 1 seed in the coming NEC tourney. The Colonials (4-11-2, 3-5-1 NEC) got three saves from senior goalkeeper Christian Snatchko, but finished one point back of Fairleigh Dickinson for the fourth and final postseason position.

This marks the second straight year RMU has been the first team out of the NEC’s four-team postseason; last fall, the Colonials were two points shy of the No. 4 position.

Head coach Bill Denniston had led his team to the tourney in 2015 and ’17, but the odd-year trend didn’t continue.

“We could have done better,” Denniston said, noting the Colonials’ three shots on frame before the half, plus a couple of near-misses. “We had some real chances in the first.”

The closest call in the first half was a volley from junior attacker Roald Aas Ravlum that struck the right post. Classmate Matt Cillo also had a decent look at goal off a loose ball, but his attempt bounded into the outstretched hands of SFU keeper Jonas Dieseler.

In the end, Saint Francis was able to break through for a pair of late goals to clinch the result. Red Flash freshman Felix Tonne sprinted down the left flank and fired a short-side shot that found twine in the 68th minute. With three minutes to play, an SFU corner caromed into the net off an RMU head for an own goal.

Ravlum, who came on late this season, led the Colonials with two shots in the finale. Sophomore Lorenzo Guagneli and Cillo had the only other shots on target. In his final RMU appearance, Canon-McMillan grad Snatchko jumped off his line for a memorable second-half save on Rosa that kept the score temporarily within reach.

Snatchko is joined by Corey CunninghamJustin ColeOnando CollinsChristian CoridonChristopher Coridon and Noah Elamin on the list of pending program graduates.

Sophomore Riccardo Rota finished the year as RMU’s leading scorer, with four goals and eight total points. Freshman Michael Petitti was the only Colonial with multiple goals and assists, with two each. Sophomore Cristian Palermo was the team’s leading set-up man, with three assists.

On the defensive side, junior captain Oeyvind Skjesol ended up tied for the team lead in minutes, as he and fellow centerback Christopher Coridon didn’t miss a minute of action. Between the sticks, freshman Springdale alum Mike Zolnierczyk made the most appearances (nine) and also recorded RMU’s only two shutouts of the season.

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