NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Finishing up the regular season at home today, the Iona College women’s water polo team split two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matches with a 18-5 morning win over LaSalle University and a 10-9 afternoon loss to Virginia Military Institute at Hynes Pool.
Iona 18 LaSalle 5
After taking a first-quarter lead with three goals, the Gaels never trailed in their 18-5 win over LaSalle this morning.
MAAC Offensive Player of the Week junior Hannah Schultz led the Gaels (11-12, 8-6 MAAC) with five goals, while junior Kayla Allen, junior Megan Hofer and junior Devika Joshi scored three goals apiece. Junior Karli Normand hit two goals, and senior co-captain Darby Nevins and senior co-captain Rebecca Koshy had one score each.
In goal, junior Britten Vilander made 14 saves on 21 Explorer shots, four steals and two assists. On defense, the Gaels made 17 steals with four by Allen, and drew five LaSalle kickouts, while being ejected ten times. Freshman Regan Warmoth was disqualified with three ejections. Iona capitalized on two of five man-up chances, while LaSalle made three of nine.
With 1:20 gone in the match, Allen put Iona on the board, followed by Nevins and Schultz to give the Gaels a 3-0 with 5:44 left in the first period. LaSalle answered 16 seconds later, but Iona hit three straight scores by Hofer, Joshi and Allen to lead 6-1 going into the second quarter.
In the second period, Iona outscored LaSalle 4-2 on goals with two goals from Schultz and one each from Allen and Joshi for a 10-3 halftime advantage. Hofer hit two goals in the third quarter, along with Normand and Koshi and Schultz finding the back of the net to give Iona a 15-4 advantage as the final period began. In the fourth quarter, goals by Joshi, Schultz and Normand sealed the Gael 18-5 win.
VMI 10 Iona 9
Allen, Schultz and Koshy led Iona with two goals each, while Nevins, Joshi and Hofer hit one score apiece.
In goal, Vilander had nine saves on 20 VMI shots, seven steals and two assists. Schultz also led her teammates on defense with five steals, three blocks and five kickouts drawn. Overall, on defense, the Gaels made five blocks, nine steals, and drew six Keydet kickouts, while being ejected eight times. Iona committed 13 turnovers.
With 2:44 gone in the match, Iona struck first on Allen’s goal, but VMI answered 26 seconds later to tie the score at one. On the Gaels’ next possession, Koshy put Iona back up 2-1, until VMI tied the game at two with 11 seconds left in the first period.
VMI went on top 3-2 just 1:12 into the second quarter, but on Iona’s next possession, Schultz retied the game at three with 6:39 on the clock. The Keydets retook the lead 4-3 only to have Nevins tie the game at four on the Gaels next trip down the pool. Two unanswered VMI goals in the closing three minutes gave the visitors a two-goal 6-4 edge at intermission.
Both teams only managed a single goal each in the third period. Joshi pulled Iona within one 6-5 at the 6:41 mark, then VMI regained a two-goal lead with 5:01 to go and led 7-5 going into the final period.
Hofer opened the fourth quarter by trimming the VMI lead to one, followed by Schultz’s second score to tie the match for the fifth time at seven with 6:35 left in regulation. After gaining a man-up chance, Iona head coach called timeout, and Koshy skipped the go-ahead 8-7 goal into the back of the net with 5:06 on the clock. The Keydets needed just 50 second to reknot the match at eight. With 1:43 to go, VMI went up 9-8 for the game’s third lead change, but Allen tied the game at nine 31 seconds later. VMI’s shallow-end goal with 48 ticks left sealed the Keydet win, as Hofer’s five-meter shot bounced off the top of the cage, and VMI froze the ball until time expired.
Despite today’s season-ending split, Kelly was positive about his squad’s chances at the conference championship in two weeks.
“I’m proud of our team in the way we battled all season,” Kelly said. “This could be one of the closest MAAC Championships that I’ve ever seen.
“We know we’re right in the mix and we feel good going in. We’re not afraid to play anybody, although we are the fourth seed. We lost to the number one, two and three seeds by only a goal.”
Having secured the number-four seed, Iona heads to the MAAC Championships at Marist College in Poughkeepsie to face number-one seeded Wagner College in the first semi-final match on Saturday, April 29 at noon EDT.