BY MARK HOUSER
"Number 1 in America" is a title all sports teams crave, but only a few have the right to claim. In men's lacrosse, Robert Morris University seems to have a problem with sharing.
The Colonials were the nation's highest scoring team in NCAA Division I lacrosse this year — just as they were last year, and the year before that too. Their 14.33 goals per game average was nearly a goal better than the closest contender, Colgate. It is the first time since the NCAA started keeping records in 1995 that a Division I team has won the scoring title three straight years.
Last season's three top scorers graduated, so where did all the fireworks come from this year? Junior Jake Hayes scored a team-high 42 goals in 2012, including a program record seven goals in a single game. Senior Kiel Matisz put in another 40 goals and also contributed 24 assists. Both players ranked in the top 10 nationally in goals per game.
First-year coach Andrew McMinn, the team's former offensive coordinator, managed the transition brilliantly as the Colonials finished 11-4, including a 5-0 sweep of NEC opponents. In the season finale at Joe Walton Stadium, McMinn's team trailed No. 20 Bryant at halftime, with the right to host the NEC championship hanging in the balance. With their 13-12 comeback victory — the Colonials' second win over a nationally ranked opponent this season after beating Ohio State in March — RMU earned its first regular season title. The Colonials also snatched Bryant's spot in the national rankings with the win.
The run ended there, unfortunately, when defending champion Mount St. Mary's bounced the Colonials from the tournament 16-15 in overtime. Still, RMU finished the season with a raft of NEC honors, including Coach of the Year for McMinn, Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year for Matisz, and 10 players earning All-NEC honors, including Hayes. Looks like the pieces are in place to shoot for four in a row. Sharing's overrated.