NEC semifinals preview: RMU vs Bryant


Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Ryan Giacobbi

The Robert Morris men’s lacrosse team finished up their regular season with an overall record of 10-4 and a 4-2 record in Northeast Conference play. Now they have the NEC tournament in their sights.

After taking a close 8-7 loss to NEC rival St. Joseph’s University Hawks, the Colonials are now set to face the one opponent with whom they’ve had a hard time taming, that being the Bryant University Bulldogs. This matchup will be Thursday, May 3 at 4 p.m. in Philadelphia, PA in the NEC semifinal.

Robert Morris last played Bryant in the regular season on Friday, March 30th at Joe Walton Stadium, which was a 10-7 loss that ended the Colonials’ 5-game win streak at the time.

The Colonials will also be looking to break a very unwanted streak of eight losses, including two in the postseason, against the current NEC tournament champion Bulldogs that dates back to the 2012 season, in which Robert Morris defeated the number 20th ranked Bulldogs by the score of 13-12.

How they got here:

Robert Morris held two steady winning streaks throughout the 2018 regular season, the steaks being a five-game streak and then a four-game streak these were broken by Bryant and St. Joseph’s respectively. They rode these streaks to a 10-4 record, 4-2 in NEC play, to finish third in the conference.

RMU vs Bryant in the Regular Season:

When RMU and Bryant squared off in late March at Joe Walton Stadium, it was a very close match-up as RMU took an early lead, but then the Bulldogs took over. Bryant would go on to win 10-7. This extended their long-running win streak against the Colonials to eight wins. The Bulldogs will be hoping that their win streak against RMU will continue on Thursday.

Players to Watch:

Adrian Torok-Orban (RMU): Torok-Orban has been one of the big pieces for the Colonials this season and in the first game against Bryant he gathered his second hat trick of the season. Torok-Orban finished with 18 goals on the season.

Matt Schmidt (RMU): Schmidt is arguably the top offensive performer, most notably told by the fact that he has 30 goals so far this year. Schmidt also finished with 12 assists, which was third on the team. His combined points of 42 was second to Jimmy Perkins (49) on the Colonials.

Zach Bryant (RMU): Bryant is arguably the top defensive performer on the team. This past season he blocked 29 shots and generated 12 turnovers. He will need to show why he was picked by the Ohio Machine in the 2018 Major League Lacrosse Draft against the Bryant Bulldogs.

Alex Heger (RMU): Heger received three NEC Defensive Player of the Week Honors and also has been placed on the watch list of the Tewaaratron Award, which is the award that honors the top male and female lacrosse players across the country.

Keys to the Game:

  1. Protect Alex Heger – Heger is a very solid goaltender in the net, but he isn’t perfect. Given that Bryant is the current NEC tournament champs trying to defend their title, this is probably the most vital key to a successful semifinals matchup for RMU.

  2. Score Early and Often – In the regular season matchup from late March, Bryant grabbed one goal and RMU grabbed two goals in the first quarter, Bryant scored four goals in the second quarter which led to them eventually running away with the lead. In order for that to be prevented here, RMU will need their top offensive performers to be the biggest asset available when RMU faces Bryant in Philadelphia.

  3. Jump on Every Chance Given – Whether it is on offensive or defense, every opportunity that RMU is given must be jumped on in order to increase their chances of securing a successful victory against the Bulldogs.

Robert Morris will need to take advantage of everything given to them possible to bring Bryant down to their knees.