Colonials secure playoff berth with win over Monmouth

In nine years as a member of the Northeast Conference, the Robert Morris field hockey program was never able to claim a playoff berth.

But in their first season in their new league, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, RMU was able to do just that.

The Colonials secured their first-ever playoff berth after knocking off former NEC foe Monmouth, 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Joe Walton Stadium.

“When I first got here, our team had won one Division I game that year, so obviously it means a lot for the team to come around,” said head coach Olivia Netzler. “Some of the girls who helped change this program aren’t even here right now, they’ve already graduated, but it means a lot to see that these girls have made the changed they’ve needed to make.”

RMU struck early, netting its first goal 18 seconds into the contest, courtesy of junior Jamie Hartley’s shot that snuck past Teresa Mathews.

With its early momentum, Robert Morris dominated the first half and would eventually tally another goal, thanks to freshmen forward Harriet Brown.

“I think it [the first goal] was important, but I think it’s important every game to get that first goal early on,” Netzler said. “If we could get on the board in the first half, it does help us.”

During the final 35 minutes of play, the Colonials would add to their lead, taking a 3-0 advantage 39 seconds into the second half.

But a relentless Monmouth squad wouldn’t give up. The Hawks netted three goals after halftime and tried to sneak the tying tally past Erin McKenzie. However, the junior goalkeeper stood tall and fought off MU’s attack.

Because of Monmouth’s late offensive surge, Netzler was worried that her squad would surrender not only their lead, but their playoff hopes as well.

“Monmouth is a very good team and you have to be at your best in order to get ahead of them, and that’s what our girls didn’t understand at the time,” said the seventh-year skipper. “We were ahead because we were playing so good, but Monmouth is such a good team, they were able to come back. We dropped our game a little bit and you can’t do that against a team like Monmouth.”

The Colonials will venture to Lawrenceville, N.J. to take on Rider, the top seeded team in the MAAC playoffs, at 6 p.m. on Friday.