For the third consecutive season, Robert Morris will be playing for a CHA tournament title, as the Colonials advanced to the championship game with a 2-1 victory over Penn State on Thursday at HarborCenter in Buffalo, N.Y.
Robert Morris has also won the CHA regular season title for three consecutive seasons, by far the most successful period in the program’s 14 seasons
“It’s exciting. It’s a goal that you set as a team each and every year that you want to win both a conference championship and playoff championship,” head coach Paul Colontino said. “To do that, you have to earn the right to play in that game. … Our players battled through adversity and once again, earned that right.”
With the Colonials’ season on the line, Robert Morris got offensive contributions from a pair of seniors, and a big game from a rookie in goal.
Sarah Quaranta gave the Colonials the lead for good at 1:12 of the third period, when the senior made a diving jab at the puck and beat Nittany Lions goaltender Jenna Brenneman down low. Senior defender Kirsten Welsh assisted on the game-winning goal.
“Welshie made great play to get the puck through and I just tried to fight my to the front of the net,” Quaranta said. “I was fortunate enough to get a stick on it.”
From there, rookie netminder Arielle DeSmet and the penalty kill unit sealed the victory for the Colonials, as RMU had to kill off a pair of shorthanded situations down the stretch. Robert Morris finished 4 for 5 on the penalty kill and DeSmet stopped 26 of 27 Penn State shots.
“We’ve been there in every situation before,” Quaranta said. “It was nothing new to us. We didn’t back down and we just stuck to our game plan. … It started from the back, from Desi. She made some great, key saves in key moments, especially on our PKs. I think that’s what kept our momentum up an we built out from there.”
After a scoreless first, the Colonials also scored early in the second period, when Amber Rennie opened the scoring 37 seconds into the frame, firing home a pass from Jaycee Gebhard.
Brooke Madsen tied things up at 5:41 of the second with a one-timer on a feed from Shea Nelson. Madsen’s goal came while Welsh was in the box for hooking.
The Colonials will make their return to the CHA title game on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Robert Morris won the CHA tournament with a 2-0 victory over Syracuse in 2017 and lost 5-3 to Mercyhurst in 2018. They’ll face one of those two squads on Friday, as the Orange and Lakers will meet in the second semifinal later Thursday evening.