(Photo Courtesy of Robert Morris Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Craig McDonald (Second Season, 2022-Current)
Robert Morris 2022 Record: 10-6 (4-1 ASUN)
Key Departures: Corson Kealey (A), Jake Boudreau (M), Dan Taddeo (A)
Key Returners: Taggart Clark (A), Bo Columbus (FO), James Leary (LSM), Evan Hellmich (D), Nate Randall (G), Liam Rosenthal (G)
Transfer Additions: David Burr (M, Rutgers), Matt Duncan (SSDM, St. John’s), Christian Krauch (D, Seton Hill), Kyle Reihner (G, Mount Union)
The 2022 season marked a year of firsts for Robert Morris lacrosse. Not only did it see Craig McDonald take over as the program’s head coach, but it also saw the Colonials make the jump into a new league: the ASUN.
While things were very much new in many respects for the Colonials last season, in the end it all felt like the old had never left. Robert Morris went 10-6 overall and 4-1 in league play. That lone loss came on the road at Utah on April 16th by a score of 18-8. Fast forward three weeks as the two sides met again, only this time in Birmingham, Alabama, and with a conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. In the rematch, Robert Morris knocked off the Utes 18-17 in an offensive shootout. It marked the third conference title in four years (three full seasons) for the Colonials.
After hoisting the trophy as ASUN champs last season, Robert Morris will be looking to do so once again in 2023 and do so at home as they will play host to the league tournament in May. However, the Colonials lose some big pieces of last year’s squad and will also be facing a new-ish looking ASUN with Jacksonville and Mercer coming over from the SoCon while Lindenwood and Queens make the jump from DII.
What Will The Offense Look Like?
Having earned a reputation from being one of the most Canadian-heavy programs in college lacrosse, Robert Morris has had its fare share of strong offensive weapons of the years. That is especially true in its recent history, which includes last season where attackmen Taggart Clark (48G/17A), Corson Kealey (43G/18A), and midfielder Jake Boudreau (25G/21A) led the way for an offense that averaged 12.9 goals per game (29th in DI).
Of those top three, Clark is the only one who returns this spring. On top of that, the Colonials will also lose their fourth-leading scorer and primary feeder from a year ago in Dan Taddeo (16G/27A). Between them, 150 points (84 goals) exit the program. So, for the second year in a row, the Colonials find themselves having to replace a good chunk of its top-end production.
Clark’s return is huge and gives this offense a solid foundation. Midfielder Will Johansen (9G/9A), who started the first three games of the season, and attackman Eric Swaggerty (8G/9A), who started 14 games in 2022, also return and should help make up the core of the Colonials’ offense. Johansen comes back for a fifth season while Swaggerty returns for his junior season.
What Will The Goalie Situation Look Like?
From its March 16th game at Marquette through its NCAA Play-in game with Delaware, Robert Morris deployed a two-goalie system. Then-freshman Nate Randall started games and played mostly the first half. Ben Savick served as the Colonials’ primary second half goalie. Under that system for the majority of the season, Randall made 112 saves with a 50% save percentage while Savick made 81 saves with a 54% save percentage.
Randall is the only one of those two returning with Savick having exhausted his eligibility. Senior Liam Rosenthal junior Kyle Reihner are the only other two goalies on the roster with starting experience. Rosenthal started eight games for the Colonials as a sophomore in 2021 and started the opener against Duke last season. Reihner comes in from Mount Union, where he was a three-year starter and recorded 247 saves with a 62% save percentage.
In 2023, Robert Morris features a strong goalie room with three players who have starting experience at the college level. That begs the question, what will they do? Does one guy assume the role as starter or will we see musical goalies in Moon Township?
Does The Faceoff Success Continue?
Bo Columbs came in as a transfer Mercyhurst last season and made an instant impact at the faceoff dot. Serving as the Colonials’ top option, he went 179-for-324 (55%). That included a 57% clip (71-for-124) against ASUN competition.
The success of Columbus made him the first primary option for the Colonials to hit the 50% mark since 2020 and the first to do so in a full season since 2012. That aforementioned season was the last time that Robert Morris had seen their team faceoff winning percentage be at least 50%. That was until last spring when they went 51.8% as a team.
After the season the likes of which Columbus just had, he’ll be looking to keep it going in 2023. If he can it will certainly give this team that extra boost in the possession game, just as they were able to grab at times last season.
Potential Breakout Player
Elliot Holden, M/A, Senior
Holden has been a consistent reserve and has seen nine starts during his career. He had his best season yet last spring, tallying eight goals and five assists. That included two-goal performances against Stony Brook in the regular season and Air Force in the ASUN semifinals. With the holes needed to be filled on the offensive end, Holden could have an opportunity to take a step forward this spring.
Robert Morris brought in a 14-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts.