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

Women’s Soccer Defeats Wright State, Advance to Horizon League Semifinals

The Colonials defeated Wright State 4-1 and advance to the Horizon League Semifinals in Milwaukee on Thursday Photo credit: Samantha Dutch

CORAOPOLIS, Pa.– It was a rainy day at the AHN Montour Junction Sports Complex, but it didn’t damper the hype for RMU Women’s Soccer and their historical matchup. With the rain came RMU’s first-ever Horizon League postseason game, and they did not disappoint.

“Today was a lot of firsts for us,” Head Coach Chris Shaw said.

And he wasn’t wrong. But the result came slow for the Colonials.

The opening minutes continued the unhealthy trend RMU has set for itself. Wright State looked dangerous, keeping possession and not letting the Colonials get into their half. This isn’t surprising considering the track record for the team, but the players’ mentality made this time different, according to Shaw.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think Kaoru, her work ethic, she’s just been all over the field. That was in Youngstown and this game.”

Hayashi would end the day with two assists and be credited with RMU’s fourth goal, but her opening contribution may have been the most important. With 20 minutes left in the first half, Hayashi would swing a corner in to find another critical player in the match, Shauna Gamble.

Gamble settled the ball off a deflection and launched it into the net for the first goal of her collegiate career to take the lead for the Colonials.

Gamble has been featured plenty in matches for RMU, but her recent form earned her a starting spot today.

“Shauna has been in and out of the starting lineup for us, I mean every time she comes in she’s just such a presence in the air…offensively, defensively,” Coach Shaw said. “She’s a really good soccer player, and she’s one of our best finishers. I can’t say enough about her.”

After the goal, Robert Morris seemed to settle a bit, which let Wright State capitalize. A beautiful cross into the box found the head of leading scorer Kaylin Helinski, who curled the ball brilliantly into the bottom corner.

But RMU took this as a chance to rebound and get back on track after what was a sloppy couple of minutes after their success. It wouldn’t take long to find what would end up being the winning goal.

After gaining another free kick, Kaoru Hayashi connected with Gamble who flicked it to the oncoming run of Haleigh Finale. Finale, not the most prolific scorer this year, put a lovely shot in above the keeper to regain the lead for RMU.

“My team was amazing today. Kaoru was amazing as always, Shauna, amazing as always,” Finale said.

It ended up being Gamble’s assist to Finale, but the shot was no simple task.

“I was just thinking, ‘I better not miss this,'” Finale said with a laugh. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

RMU would see out the half and go into the break with a 2-1 lead. The defense deserves a lot of credit, too, according to Finale.

“Even people who might not have contributed to the scoresheet [deserve credit]. Our defense, only having one goal let in, they locked it down, Brenna [Murray] had some great saves.”

While the defense may have looked shaky in the first half, it was undoubtedly solid in the second. Wright State tallied nine shots in the first half but was only allowed three in the second, which may have helped contribute to RMU’s dominance in the latter stages.

Paloma Swanker, a sophomore forward from Irwin Pa., has been utilized similarly to Gamble, an impact player off the bench. And an impact she made. After causing problems up top with fellow forward Renae Mohrbacher, Swankler would get her well-deserved goal. Shauna Gamble again would show out as she would win the ball back in the Raider’s half, take a touch, and then play a beautiful through ball to Swankler.

The pass essentially split all the defenders, taking them out of the equation, leaving Swankler in 1-on-1 against the keeper, who she defeated with a brilliant chip, leaving the Colonials 3-1 up.

“Paloma played a lot last year, had some goals, and played a lot at the start of this year, but became a bit snake-bitten in front of goal,” Shaw said.

Swankler started in RMU’s first game of the season but hasn’t started since. It’s her recent impacts, though, that are giving Coach Shaw another valuable option up top.

“Because she was seeing a little bit less, [when] she got in, she was hungry, she wanted to make an impact.” Swankler has scored in her last two games off the bench and has an assist to her name, too. “The last few games she’s been fantastic.”

The game did tend to die out for Wright State, not generating a lot offensively and substitutions made a lot to try to get something to click. But Robert Morris was hungry to get more.

After winning another set piece outside the box, Hayashi would get her moment. Driving a low cross into the box, Hayashi’s ball would hit off a defender and go into the Raider’s net to make it 4-1 to the Colonials.

The game would end with that score-line and see RMU pick up their first-ever Horizon League postseason win. It also is a record for most wins and goals scored in a season, a massive accomplishment for Coach Shaw and his team.

The Colonials now travel to Milwaukee to face the No. 1 seed in the semifinals.

“Tomorrow we’re off, Tuesday we’re on the bus to Milwaukee,” Shaw said about shifting to focus onto the next big game. “That will be our single-minded focus once we get on that bus: let’s get a result in Milwaukee.”

The last time the two sides met, Milwaukee left home with a 3-0 win.

You can see the Colonials try to keep it moving and take on top-seeded Milwaukee this Thursday, Nov. 2 at 1 P.M. on ESPN +.

More to Discover