NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Splitting the two opening matches of this season’s the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season, the Iona College women’s water polo defeated St. Francis Brooklyn College 14-5, then dropped a close match, 10-9, to Marist College on Saturday afternoon at Villanova University.
Game 1: Iona 14 St. Francis 5
Senior Meghan Mahoney and sophomore Hannah Schultz led Iona with four goals each, while senior Rebecca Mathews had two scores. Senior Taylor Silva, junior Devika Joshi, sophomore Brittany Toro and freshman Alexandra Guerra had one goal apiece.
In goal, senior Dana Delucchi had two saves and two steals; sophomore Britten Vilander had no saves, one assist and four steals, and freshman Andrea Guerra had five saves and one steal. Together, the Iona goalies faced 17 Terrier shots.
On defense, the Gaels made eight steals and three blocks. Iona drew seven Terrier kick outs with four from Mathews, while being ejected nine times. Senior Dana Andrea won all four swim-offs.
The Terriers struck first just 37 seconds into the match, but Schultz tied the game at one 1:02 later. Two straight Gael goals from Mahoney and Nevins gave Iona a 3-1 edge with 4:53 left in the first quarter. Both teams were scoreless for nearly four minutes, until St. Francis narrowed Iona’s lead to 3-2 with 1:06 left. In the closing minute of the opening period, Mahoney and Guerra put the Gaels back up 5-2.
In the second period, Iona outscored St. Francis 5-1 with two goals from Mahoney, including a five-meter penalty shot with 1:09 to go for a 10-2 halftime lead. Silva, Joshi, Mathews and Schultz also scored for the Gaels.
The Iona offense slowed in the third period as the Terriers trimmed the Gael lead to 10-4 on a 6-5 advantage at the 5:38 mark. Matthews answered 1:27 later to put Iona up 11-4 with 3:11 on the clock, followed by Toro to seal the victory.
St. Francis got the ball past Guerra with 1:45 gone in the final period on a 6-5 advantage, but unanswered scores from Schultz and Mahoneyincreased the Gael lead to 13-5 with 4:22 left. Toro sealed the win 14-5 with 3:25 remaining.
Game 2: Marist 10, Iona 9
Mahoney, Mathews, Andrea and Schultz had two goals each, while senior Sara Bortz scored once.
In goal, freshman Jordin Hale had 11 saves on 28 Marist shots to go along with three steals and one assist. On defense, Iona made three steals, two blocks and forced seven Marist ejections. Andrea won all four swim-offs.
Marist needed only one possession and 58 seconds to take the lead 1-0, but Mahoney took advantage of a man-up opportunity to tie the match at one just 40 ticks later. With 4:01 left in the opening period, the Red Foxes retook the lead 2-1 on a five-meter penalty shot. After nearly a scoreless minutes, Mahoney’s second goal retied the game at two with 14 seconds remaining in the first. Hale made four saves on Marist shots in the opening frame.
Schultz gave the Gaels their first lead 3-2 with 2:51 gone in the second. When Hale rushed out to stop a Red Fox breakaway, a Marist lob goal tied match at three with 2:41 to intermission. Marist retook the lead on its next possession, but Matthews scored on a 6-5 advantage just fifteen counts later to tie the score at four with 1:39 to go. The Red Foxes scored 17 seconds later for a 5-4 halftime lead.
Each team scored only one goal each in the first six minutes of the second half, following Marist upping its lead to 6-4 with just 17 seconds gone. Andrea answered on the Gaels next possession 21 ticks later to pull Iona within one 6-5. In the frantic final two minutes, Marist went back up 7-5 with 1:55 to go, then Schultz answered with 20 ticks left. The Red Foxes scored with five seconds remaining to lead 8-6 going into the final period.
Marist pushed its lead to three on the opening possession of the fourth, but the Gaels rallied with two unanswered scores to pull within one at 9-8 with 4:56 remaining. After Andrea capitalized on a 6-5 advantage, Bortz hit the back of the net on a breakaway from Hale’s pool-length assist. Despite a strong defensive surge, the Gaels missed several shots and opportunities until the Red Foxes sealed with win with 39 seconds left, even with Mathews’ goal with .3 seconds on the clock.
Although he would have preferred two wins this afternoon, Iona head coach Brian Kelly complimented his squad’s performance in its opening MAAC matches.
“It was an exciting game,” Kelly said about the loss to Marist. “A lot of energy, really played well by both teams. That’s a game where one or two plays make a difference in the game. We needed one more play. Overall, I think it’s a very good start for league play. We’re looking forward to next weekend.”
Next weekend the Gaels travel to St. Francis College in Brooklyn for four matches against Siena, Wagner, Villanova and VMI.