NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College men's water polo team dropped two of three matches at the College Water Polo Association Crossover today hosted by Fordham University. Iona fell to Mercyhurst 9-7, topped Salem International 16-13 and lost to George Washington 17-13.
Game One: Mercyhurst 9 Iona 7
Despite a fourth-quarter rally, the Gaels dropped a seesaw match 9-7 to Mercyhurst in the day's first game.
Sophomore Zach Roper led the Gaels with two goals, while junior Chris Ellis, junior Matt Rothman, sophomore Jonathan Hulbert and freshman Andres Guerra scored one goal each. Senior goalie Matt McCrudden recorded seven saves.
On defense, junior co-captain Hudson Grieve made three blocks, and sophomore Marc Stauble and Roper had four steals each. Stauble and Roper also drew two Laker kickouts each.
With 4:52 gone in the match, Mercyhurst struck first, but Rothman tied the game at one 15 seconds later. The Lakers answered on their next possession to go back up 2-1. Guerra retied the game at two with 21 ticks left in the first period, but Mercyhurst scored 11 seconds later to lead 3-2.
Roper's first goal tied the match at three 1:07 into the second, but the Lakers scored two unanswered goals, including a five-meter penalty shot, for a 5-3 lead at halftime. Mercyhurst hit two more goals in the third to go up 7-3 at the 3:06 mark, then with 32 seconds left in the third Hulbert pulled Iona within three 7-4.
In the fourth quarter, Iona outscored Mercyhurst 3-2 with Ellis' five-meter penalty shot narrowing the Lakers edge to 7-5 with 4:43 to go. But Mercyhurst hit two straight goals for 9-5 lead with 3:28 left. Thirty seconds later Roper scored, and hit another goal with 45 ticks left in regulation, but the Gael rally fell short.
Game Two: Iona 16 Salem International 13
In their second match, the Gaels rebounded to defeat Salem International University 16-13, leading by as many as seven goals in the final period, and holding off a closing-minutes rally.
Rothman led Iona with six goals, while Stauble had three and Ellis hit two. Grieve, Hulbert, Roper, senior Rafael Romero, sophomore Jay Pagano and freshman Alex Guerra scored one goal each. McCrudden recorded five saves.
On defense, the Gaels made five blocks and 12 steals with six by Rothman and two each by Grieve, Stauble and Andres Guerra. The Gaels drew nine Tigers kickouts with four each by Grieve and Stauble.
In the first period, the squads traded goals as Salem scored first with 27 seconds gone in the match, then Grieve tied the game at one 48 seconds later. Salem went back up 2-1 at the 5:43 mark, but Rothman needed only 38 seconds to knot the match at two. With 2:44 left, the Tigers scored, but Romero found the back of the net for the third tie of the quarter. Salem scored again with 30 ticks on the clock, then with one second showing Hulbert's goal evened the game at four.
Outscoring Salem 4-3 in the second quarter, Iona took the lead for the first time 5-4 on Ellis's five-meter penalty shot drawn by Grieve with 40 seconds gone. Rothman's second goal gave the Gaels a two-point edge 6-4 with 6:01 to go, but the Tigers answered 28 ticks later to get within one 6-5. Pagano put Iona back up two 7-5 at 4:41, but Salem scored on its next possession. Only four seconds remained on the clock when Rothman hit his third goal, but Salem hit a five-meter penalty shot as the halftime buzzer sounded and Iona leading 8-7.
Stauble scored the first of seven third-period Iona goals on the Gaels' first third-period possession with 24 seconds gone, followed by Ellis 40 ticks later to increase Iona's edge to 10-7. Capitalizing on a 6-5 advantage, Salem narrowed the Iona lead to 10-8 with 6:10 left, but Roper answered to put the Gaels back up by three 11-8 just 27 seconds later. That sparked a 3-0 Iona run as Stauble and Rothman scored pushing Iona's edge to 13-8 with 3:18 to go. Salem scored on its next possession, with goals by Rothman and Stauble the Gaels led 15-9 going into the final period.
Twenty seconds into the fourth period, Guerra gave Iona its largest lead 16-9, but the Tigers rallied with four consecutive goals to narrow the advantage to 16-13 with 2:19 left, still the Gaels held on for the win.
Game Three: George Washington 17 Iona 13
Despite a five-goal fourth-quarter rally, the Gaels could not overtake George Washington, as they fell 17-13 in the nightcap.
Ellis led the Gaels with six goals, while Roper had four, and Rothman hit three. McCrudden made seven saves and junior Anthony Zdanavicius had two saves.
On defense, the Gaels made ten steals with Roper and Ellis making three each. Iona drew six Colonials kickouts, but were ejected ten times.
Within the first 1:30, Ellis' two goals, including a five-meter penalty shot drawn by Rothman, gave the Gaels a 2-0 lead. But the Colonials hit two straight scores to tie the score at two with 5:29 left in the first quarter. On Iona's next possession, Ellis struck again to pull Iona ahead 3-2 at the 5:07 mark. George Washington scored three unanswered goals, including a man-up score, in the closing three minutes to lead 5-3 going into the second period.
Ellis opened the second quarter with his fourth goal to pull Iona within one 5-4, but the Colonials hit two straight scores to lead 7-4 with seven minutes to go. After missing a 5-meter penalty shot, Roper scored at the 5:03 mark to narrow the Colonials edge to 7-5. In the closing two minutes, the teams traded goals with Roper and Rothman scoring for Iona, as George Washington was ahead 10-7 at halftime.
In the opening four minutes of the third period, the Colonials held Iona scoreless while padding their lead with three unanswered scores until Roper's third goal with 3:51 trimmed their edge to 13-8. But George Washington answered with three more goals, including a 5-meter penalty shot to lead 16-8 as the final period began.
The Gaels mounted a fourth-quarter rally with five straight goals. With two minutes gone, Ellis hit his fifth goal on a 5-meter penalty shot, then Rothman scored a minute later. Ellis recorded his sixth score on the Gaels next possession as the Colonials led 16-11 with 4:37 left. The Gael rally continued with Roper's fourth goal a minute later. With 1:52 left, Rothman cut the Colonials lead to 16-13, but George Washington sealed the win with a last-second goal.
Although "disappointed" with his squad's performance on Saturday, Iona head coach Brian Kelly notices "a lot of positives" on both sides of the pool.
"I'm disappointed of the outcome this weekend," Kelly said. "These were huge games for us, and we had way too many mental and physical errors -- errors that should not take place at this part of the season."
"Fortunately, there are a lot of positives that we can build on, and we are getting great efforts from some of our stars."