The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Rollercoaster Season in Review: RMU Men’s Soccer

Payton Hostetler

Robert Morris Men’s soccer underwent quite a change over this past offseason. After head coach Jason O’Keefe resigned last November, RMU quickly found their replacement in Jonathan Potter, who formerly was the head coach of Presbyterian College’s men’s team for seven years. Potter came into the season having to win the locker room and build it, too.

Robert Morris lost 13 players from either graduating or transfers. The Colonials featured four goalkeepers on the roster last year, including 2x Horizon League defensive player of the week, Friedrich Petrelli, but none returned.

This certainly added weight to the job of Robert Morris, men’s soccer coach, as instead of building on the progress made over the year, Potter had to rebuild it.

Cam Wickline

Notable returners included Chase and Logan Gilley, as well as Anass Hadran. The trio combined for 14 goals in 2022. But if they wanted to help Coach Potter replicate the Horizon League quarter-final run they made the year prior, they’d need some help.

Story continues below advertisement

The Colonials picked up forwards Kosi Udeh and John Paul Mbuthia. Udeh, transferring from the University of South Carolina, and Mbuthia from UNC Charlotte, looked to bolster the attack with the Gilleys and Hadran. Another important return was Gabe Norris, who’d captained the team as a sophomore. He’d get assistance from fellow returnee William Dodzi Afawubo.

Victor Koah and Darren Gray returned to help on defense but would be set up with newbie Fabian Overkamp, a sophomore from Germany. Australian native Kai McLoughlin would also provide more depth in midfield and attack.

With a mix of old and new, Coach Potter had assembled a squad but now needed to put it together.

Non-Conference Play

Robert Morris opened up the preseason with a strong schedule. They lost to Marshall in a friendly, an expected loss considering Marshall’s high status in college soccer. Despite that, they rebounded nicely against Le Moyne, where newbie Kai McLaughlin scored a hattrick.

After finishing preseason, they made a statement against VMI, winning 5-0 thanks to goals from Gabe Norris, Anass Hadran, Alex Lorigny, Victor Koah, and Kyler Miller. Nolan Hunter then rescued a point for the Colonials against Niagara.

They’d win against Bucknell before drawing against Saint Francis, thanks to their new support up top, Kai McLaughlin and John Paul Mbuthia.

Samantha Dutch

Two weeks later, they’d lose a heartbreaker against cross-town rival Duquesne. After holding off the Dukes for the entire first half, Robert Morris was rewarded with a Duquesne red card in stoppage time, meaning the Colonials would have an entire half to attack a weakened, 10-man side. Unfortunately, Duquesne would strike with fifteen minutes left on a set piece and down RMU. This was an absolute gut punch to the Colonials and started a bleak run for the team.

Conference Play

The team would open Horizon League play positively, winning against Northern Kentucky. After doubt about how the team would perform when it mattered, the Colonials turned to a reliable face to get the winner. Anass Hadran scored in the final seconds to see the Colonials come out on top in the season opener.

But after the Duquesne loss, the Colonials would see a barren run of games. Back-to-back losses to IUPUI and Milwaukee meant that RMU would drop to the bottom three in the Horizon League. Robert Morris would stay home to face St. Bonaventure and interject in the league schedule. Gabe Norris would score first, but see his goal canceled out four minutes later. The Colonials would tie and see their losing streak end, but they were still searching for a win.

After a four-game stretch of zero wins, the streak would finally come to a close against Perdue Fort Wayne, when a resilient team led by a fiery Jonathan Potter would come out hot. A first-half blitz saw them run out 3-0 winners, in which all goals were scored in the first 15 minutes. Mbuthia contributed again, while reliable Norris and Hadran also helped put the Mastodons to sleep.

This seemed to shift the tide of RMU’s season. Fans and players were hopeful this win would lead to a comfortable stretch of good results and see the team make the Horizon League postseason tournament, something that seemed very unlikely for this squad.

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the case. Following the win against Purdue Fort Wayne, the Colonials would endure a second winless run, drawing back-to-back games against Wright State and Green Bay. Then they faced an uphill battle against #4 ranked Wake Forest, another powerhouse in NCAA soccer. They lost 5-1, Kai McLaughlin being the lone scorer for RMU.

This would be a sign of things to come, losing a further two games to Oakland and Detroit Mercy. Despite greatly outshooting the Golden Grizzlies, they could not equalize, dropping the match 1-0. Kai McLaughlin would again score early for the Colonials against Detroit Mercy, but the Titans would keep them down for the rest of the game while scoring three of their own.

The Colonials ‘ playoff hopes were relatively unknown going into the last day of Horizon League play. It was originally thought an RMU win paired with a Milwaukee and Northern Kentucky loss would see Coach Potter and his men go into the postseason against all odds. And with a John Paul Mbuthia goal in the final 10 minutes, everything looked good for the team. Northern Kentucky was losing to Wright State (something originally thought to be good), and Green Bay, the 2nd ranked team in the conference, looked to be a lock against Milwaukee. The Colonials ended their regular season with a win, 1-0.

As stated before, everything looked good for the Colonials to travel to Green Bay for round 1 of Horizon League Tournament play. But due to a relatively unknown tie-breaker, Wright State would make the playoffs ahead of Robert Morris. The tiebreaker was their record against top teams, with Wright State beating Green Bay earlier this season and Robert Morris drawing.

This controversial ruling meant Robert Morris Men’s Soccer’s season was over.

What’s Next?

With this season being billed as rebuild season, the fact the Colonials came so close this year should be seen as a huge step in the process. With only two seniors leaving this offseason, Robert Morris should have a relatively normal roster next year. Their team’s starters will all be back, including Potter’s starting front four.

Newbies McLaughlin, Mbuthia, and Udeh are closely linked with returners Hadran and Chase Gilley. With a solidified holding midfield of captains Gabe Norris and William Dodzi Afawubo and a strong-looking backline, this sets up the Colonials to build.

Keepers Josh Lane and Kieran Gorgenyi will also be back, looking to build on their solid starts to life at RMU. The freshmen rotated a couple of times, posting shutouts at least once this season. Lane, in fact, posted his shutout in the most important game, the final Horizon League matchup against Cleveland.

Coach Potter has a solid base to continue with and should be excited about the advancements his team has made in only his first year at the helm. While the team might be sore about their shortcomings this season, it was not a failure. Rather, it was a big step in the process of building the program.

More to Discover