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May 14—According to Robert Morris women’s lacrosse coach Katrina Silva, you can’t see Notre Dame’s “Touchdown Jesus” from Arlotta Family Lacrosse Stadium.

And she’s glad.

“I don’t think they need any more luck,” Silva insisted during Friday’s “Breakfast With Benz” podcast.

Based on how the Fighting Irish handled Silva’s Robert Morris Colonials earlier in the season, they most certainly do not.

Silva’s group may be hoping for a little divine intervention on their behalf since Notre Dame thumped RMU, 16-2, on March 6 in South Bend, Ind.

Now Silva’s crew is heading back to Indiana for a rematch Friday afternoon (1 p.m./ESPN3). It’s the first NCAA Tournament game in program history. Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Irish are making their eighth tournament appearance in the last nine years.

Silva is banking less on luck or prayer to swing the outcome in Round 2 and relying more on experience. She believes when the Colonials faced off against the Irish in March, they may have been a bit too respectful of Notre Dame’s reputation and talent.

“They’re fast. And we played them straight, up and down the field,” Silva said. “They are very skilled. We knew what we were up against. And their head coach (Christine Halfpenny) looked at me at halftime and said, ‘Katrina, where’s the pressure?’ And I looked at her and said, ‘Chris, you’re Notre Dame! We aren’t going to chase you around.'”

This time the Colonials may be more inclined to aggressively counterpunch instead of just conservatively hoping to avoid mistakes.

That approach was more the norm for RMU as they won the MAC at 14-2 (10-0 in conference). Their only other loss on the year was a 16-7 defeat at Cincinnati. But the Irish went 9-6 in the powerhouse ACC. That conference produced six NCAA Tournament teams and five of the top eight seeds.

So any game against the Irish is a step up in competition. Silva’s challenge is to try to find a coaching balance between schooling her players as to why the first game went sideways and perhaps convincing them that Notre Dame may not be expecting a better version this time around.

“We feel like we are really prepared for our opponent in front of us,” Silva said. “We are going to make the change that we know we can make, and we know that will help us — hopefully — achieve a different outcome.”

One thing the Irish did well in the first meeting was contain RMU’s star tandem of Melanie and Mackenzie Gandy. The twin sisters from Baltimore combined for 129 points on the season but were limited to one goal and one assist during the March matchup.

Silva said finding scoring depth will be a key if the Colonials are to pull off the upset.

“If you can take the pressure off of the two, then hopefully that opens them back up,” Silva said. “That’s the goal. If other people start scoring and it’s not just Mel and Kenz, then all of a sudden they have to start shifting gears and figuring out who is the hot person right now and who to stop.”

Another key for Robert Morris is simply having confidence, a belief that not only are they capable of pulling off the upset but that they will actually do it.

Does Silva have a Herb Brooks “Miracle” type of speech in her back pocket? At least a modified version? You know, something like, “You were born to be lacrosse players.”

Not really. But she does have a message that she thinks will help.

“I keep trying to tell the kids to take a second, look around, enjoy where you are. You have worked so hard to get here,” Silva said. “Play free. Play fun. Play passionate. Play and demonstrate the love that you have for one another.”

Hey, the Russians did squash Team USA, 10-3, at Madison Square Garden in an exhibition game before the 1980 Olympics. I think we all know what happened a few weeks later.

Touchdown Jesus knows a thing or two about miracles. But if he’s not watching over the field, maybe Silva’s team can pull off a miracle of their own.

Listen: Katrina Silva joins me for Friday’s “Breakfast With Benz” podcast. We discussed the road to Robert Morris’ first NCAA Tournament appearance, the program’s first year in the MAC and details her players need to honor if they are to upset Notre Dame.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.