RMU's Gandy Twins Taking Advantage of Second Chance at History

Aiming to be two of the most iconic players in Robert Morris women’s lacrosse history, twins Mackenzie and Melanie Gandy were devastated after realizing their collegiate careers were coming to a close as a result the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19’s forced cancellation of the 2020 season left Mackenzie Gandy just four points shy of breaking the program’s all-time points record, while Melanie Gandy sat seventh all-time in the same category hoping to climb the ranks. Nearly a year later, the Gandy twins are back for another ride.

“It was extremely heartbreaking,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “Coming out [of last season], we were 5-2, so we knew we had a great chance of going all the way in the NEC and winning a championship. I was in shock. I didn’t even know what to think or do for the next couple of weeks.”

With the season canceled and potentially their last games wearing a Colonials uniform in the rearview mirror, the twins received news that the NCAA had granted spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.

The Gandys jumped at the chance to return.

“We worked so hard to win a championship,” Melanie Gandy said. “You are playing your whole life to be recruited in college, and you finally get here, and you can’t compete for the championship, your main goal. That was the most heartbreaking thing. We are super grateful that we got the opportunity to come back.”

The Colonials have picked up right where they left off. They’re 5-2, but the 5-1 start was the program’s best start since 2014.

Coming into the season, Mackenzie and Melanie Gandy looked to set a new standard of what it meant to be an RMU women’s lacrosse player.

Points record in sight, Mackenzie Gandy looked to claim the honor during the first game of the season against Liberty. While the Colonials came away with a 9-8 win, she produced three points to tie the record. She’d have to wait another game.

“I think knowing that I only needed four points going into the Liberty game put a bit of pressure on me,” she said. “I knew I could do it, but then I found myself overthinking it, so when I got to the point where I tied the record, it was a bit frustrating.”

To register the 180th point of her career, she lined up for a free position shot against Fresno State and buried it.

“It was a great feeling to finally have done it and for it to be in the past now,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “It just goes to show that all my hard work has paid off, and now I can look forward to just playing lacrosse and finishing out my final season with my team.”

“You are playing your whole life to be recruited in college, and you finally get here, and you can’t compete for the championship, your main goal. That was the most heartbreaking thing.”

She passed Ashley Levering (2006-09), who scored 179 total points across her career with the Colonials.

“[Head coach] Katrina [Silva] always talks about what kind of legacy we want to leave behind, so to leave behind that I am now the record holder in points is awesome,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “It raises the bar for everyone on the team now and for everyone that joins the team in the future.

While the team congratulated the accomplishment on the field immediately after the historic tally, the Colonials began truly celebrating the special moment with a cake after the game. It was give to her by her sister.

“It was amazing seeing her break the record,” Melanie Gandy said. “I loved being a part of every step of the way. It showed that all of her hard work paid off. We celebrated with her favorite, Carvel ice cream cake, and a nice dinner.”

Like many other programs, the Colonials have fueled their success by placing an emphasis on the opportunity to have seniors return for another year.

Robert Morris’ strong start would not be possible without the Gandy twins, both of whom have registered 27 points through seven games. They’re tied for seventh in the nation in points with North Carolina’s Katie Hoeg.

“It is crazy to be grouped with such amazing lacrosse players that I watch on TV all of the time,” Melanie Gandy said.

This rise has been a long time coming. The Gandy twins paved their paths through lacrosse by following several spheres of influence.

If there is an area in the United States that lives, eats and breathes lacrosse, Maryland is certainly on the short list. The home state for the Gandy twins is a hotbed and home to one of the most prestigious lacrosse schools in the country, the University of Maryland. The Terps’ women’s lacrosse team has made the final four 27 times, with the team claiming 14 NCAA championships. They’ve impacted countless generations of young female athletes, including the Gandys.

“To be from Maryland, I wouldn’t say lacrosse is your life, but it’s a big part,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “It’s always fun to watch the University of Maryland. They’re basically No. 1 all the time.”

Along with the strong following in Maryland, the Baltimore natives also took after their mom, who played lacrosse in high school and college. They were motivated by their friends, too.

“I think a huge part of our influence is the people we played with growing up. They took it all so seriously,” Melanie Gandy said. “A lot of them ended up going to top-tier schools.”

Melanie Gandy was to pick up the stick and ball game. Her sister soon followed.

“She started lacrosse before me,” Mackenzie Gandy said. It was weird; I didn't want to sign up for lacrosse, but she did. My parents were just like, ‘Why don’t you play catch with your sister for a bit?’ We fell in love with it as we grew older.”

The pair grew their skills by pushing each other throughout their high school careers.

“When I go up against her, I have to beat her. I have to be better than her,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “Also, I know she’s never going to take things lightly on me. We push ourselves to be better on the field.”

Of course, as is the case with siblings, there’s the occasional spat or small argument. That just speaks to their competitive natures.

“Little disputes happened more often than not, but I think there’s a minute we are yelling at each other, but the next we are connecting on the field,” Mackenzie Gandy said. “That bond between us never really breaks; it’s just we will have a couple hiccups here and there.”

Putting their talents together, the Gandy twins boosted Dulaney High School to a state championship in 2016. Mackenzie Gandy rose to the occasion and scored five goals in that game, while her sister added four points of her own against Leonardtown to clinch the title.

“We just have that twin telepathy,” Melanie Gandy said. “It sounds corny, but I always see her, and she always sees me, and we’re always working together, which is super fun.”


Following their high school careers, the twins found a new home at Robert Morris after heavily considering Queens (N.C.). The difference-maker? Another set of twins. While being recruited, they were able to relate to the Karwaki twins, who were seniors at the time who also called Maryland home.

“RMU reached out to both of us and showed extreme interest,” Melanie Gandy said. “We heard of RMU through another set of twins that went to Hereford High School, our high school's county rival. We never played with them as they were four years above us, but we got to build a relationship with them. We visited RMU, and the Karwaki twins took us under their wings and toured us all through the campus.”

In the Karwakis’ footsteps, the Gandys came to campus looking to sustain their high level of success.

During their freshman years, Mackenzie Gandy showcased her talents by recording 29 goals and 56 points, earning All-NEC first team and NEC All-Rookie team honors.

Her sister had a slower start to her college career, in large part due to an injury that limited her to five games.

The following season, Mackenzie Gandy saw her season shortened due to a broken arm, but she continued to help her sister while on the sideline. Melanie Gandy bounced back and posted 24 goals.

After hardly competing together over their first two years in college, the Gandy twins finally shared the field for an entire season as juniors. They illustrated why they are such a potent offensive duo, scoring a combined 73 goals and leading the Colonials to a 12-5 record.

“Being back on the field again was a huge relief. We are partners in crime, and we complement each other well,” Melanie said. “It reminded me of high school where we always had each other to play with. I think I took it for granted to play every game with her, and I became even more appreciative to play beside her.”

Then with championship aspirations, COVID-19 put a screeching halt to their senior season plans. They used the longer offseason to prepare for one final season after the NCAA’s eligibility ruling was levied.

“Our coaches always say to roll with the punches,” Melanie Gandy said. “Since the fall, we’ve trained and practiced every day as if we had a game that weekend. We are super grateful that we have been pushed this hard because I think it has prepared us for the upcoming games that we have.”

The preparation was pivotal. Now in the Mid-American Conference for the first time, the Gandy twins are confident Robert Morris can be a contender in the MAC.

“The MAC is going to be different than the NEC,” Melanie Gandy said. “I think we have a better chance of winning this year because we are a lot stronger of a group.”

The Colonials flexed their muscles in the first taste of MAC competition, dominating Kent State 18-3. Their first conference victory showed that although Robert Morris is a new face in the conference, they are a serious threat to the conference hierarchy.

And whatever happens, you can be sure that the Gandy twins will be at the heart of it all.