NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Maroon & Gold earned a hard-fought 2-1 win in their home-finale Saturday afternoon. The visiting Niagara Purple Eagles out shot the Gaels 13-12, and had an edge in shots on goal at 9-4, but a pair of strikes from freshman Amber Crispin and junior Marissa Dundas proved to be just enough.
Before the game, head coach Sarah Brady honored the program’s two seniors as part of the senior day festivities. Today’s home finale was the 69th career game for senior Emily Hansen. Serving as a team captain this year, she has had her most productive season points wise with three goals and one assist. Capping off her career, she will soon be a three-time All-MAAC Academic Team selection.
Senior Erika Flowers, who plans on returning next year after missing this year due to injury, took part in the ceremonies with her teammate. Both Hansen and Flowers came to Iona in the same year, and fortunately for the Maroon & Gold, they’ll be getting one of their most historically productive offensive players back next year.
Flowers is tied for fifth all-time with 28 career points. She has scored 11 goals, including three game-winners. Flowers ranks top-ten in shots attempted, shots per game, shots on goal, and shots on goal per game. She will look to add onto her historic career during the 2017 season.
Following the ceremonies, the game commenced and Niagara came out of the gates firing. The Purple Eagles put two shots on goal in the first eight minutes. Following the quick attack, Iona bounced back and it was Crispin who officially placed the ball and momentum in the Gaels corner.
With 29:56 gone in the first half, Iona’s leading goal scorer converted a corner kick chance by curving in a beautiful shot to give the Maroon & Gold a 1-0 lead. Crispin has a team-high four goals this season.
Less than two minutes later, Niagara answered to quell the rousing home crowd. Freshman Hailey Bicknell took a lone 20 yard shot from the left side, and aided by the blustering wind, her attempt sailed off the out-stretched fingertips of junior Tiffany Martinez and into the net.
Just three minutes later, sophomore Mariana Jaramillo had a header go clanging off the crossbar. Following that moment, neither team threatened for the remainder of the half. The Purple Eagles outshot the Gaels 10-8 in the first period.
The final 45 minutes brought with it much less offensive fire power. The teams combined for just seven shots after accumulating for 18 in the first. Junior Christine Rebus had a header sail high in the 51st minute, and Niagara’s junior Sophie Connor forced Martinez to make one of her five saves in the 60th.
Iona made the most of its limited chances in the 80th minute. Junior Brianna Hernandez dribbled to the center of the box, and after drawing a few defenders, she shifted it to the left were Dundas was cutting toward net. The junior defender was able to hit a grounded shot past the Purple Eagle net-minder for her second of the season, and the eventual Maroon & Gold victory.
The 2016 season concludes on Wednesday, Dec. 26 with a trip to the MAAC Regular Season Champions Monmouth.