NEVILLE TWP., PA — The retooled Robert Morris Colonials welcomed St. Lawrence University to Colonials Arena on Friday night to drop the puck on the 2018-19 campaign. The Saints proved to the Colonials why they just sit on the outside of the top-ten of the national rankings, handing Paul Colontino’s squad a hard-fought 2-0 loss.
The two markers by the Saints were untimely, the first being a perfect redirection by sophomore Natalie Wozney that beat senior RMU starter Lauren Bailey top-corner in the opening stanza, and the second coming on a broken 2-on-0 in which Bailey came to the top of the circles, missed an attempt on a poke-check and Kayla Nielson fed Rachael Smith for a wide open tap-in in the second.
“Any time you have a chance to play a quality team, some great competition, you want to do so,” Colontino said. “Obviously we suffered in the scoring area, we had some great chances. We have to get a little firmer, maybe a little more confident in front of the net. Overall, I thought it was a great game. I think we’re right there in the mix, we just have to do a few things better, clean up a few things. Hopefully we do that by tomorrow.”
It wasn’t for a lack of effort by the Colonials on the evening, as the squad out-shot and out-played the Saints for the majority of the game, ceding defeat to senior netminder Grace Harrison. Harrison, a native of New Zealand, collected her 15th career shutout and moved within two of the Saints team record. The Colonials attempted 63 shots on the day, but a stifling Saints defense held the team to only 25 on net.
OH CAPTAIN, (ONE OF) MY CAPTAIN(S)
The Colonials welcomed back one of their top defenders for the contest. Maggie LaGue, the team’s career assists leader from the back-end played after sitting out last weeks exhibition against UOIT.
“It felt really good,” LaGue explained. “I was excited. The shoulder felt really good, I really didn’t think about it on the ice. Going through practice, getting back in to the game mode, it was more shaking off the cobwebs and the jitters”
LaGue led an improved defensive squad that choked out a Saints offense with constant pressure in both the defensive and neutral zones, holding St. Lawrence to 21 shots throughout the contest.
LaGue, forward Amber Rennie and fellow defender Kirsten Welsh will serve as co-captains this season.
During the 2015-16 season Lauren Bailey took the Colonials through a stretch-run that secured a CHA playoff berth at the HarborCenter as a first-year and looked to be the future in the net for Robert Morris. Then, over the past two years, Lauren Bailey studied as lights-out performances by Jessica Dodds and Elijah Milne-Price secured the team two conference championship berths- including the 2017 CHA Championship.
Bailey, now a senior, looked to be back in her old form on Friday night, only allowing the two goals- one a threaded shot, the other the ill-fated 2-0. A couple of athletic saves- including a jumping glove save in the third to try and keep her team in the contest, answered any questions if the goaltender was ready to take the reigns after ceding the crease to two seniors.
The Colonials close out the opening weekend with the Saints at Colonials Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.