NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College women’s water polo team opened its 2016 season with two wins and a loss in the Harvard Mini Tournament at Blodgett Pool. After a 16-1 exhibition win over Boston University, the Gaels (1-1) defeated Brown University 9-7, but dropped the day’s final match 14-5 to host Harvard University.
IONA 9, BROWN 7
In the season-opening win over Brown, sophomore Hannah Schultz, last season’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, led the Maroon & Gold with three goals. Senior Meghan Mahoney and sophomore Kayla Allen scored two goals each, while seniors Taylor Silva and Dana Andrea added one apiece.
Guarding the cage, senior Dana Delucchi and sophomore Britten Vilander both had two saves and a steal. On defense, the Gaels made ten steals, two apiece from senior Sara Bortz, Andrea and Allen, while drawing nine Bear kick-outs.
Brown jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening two minutes, until Schultz’s first goal sparked a 3-0 Gaels run; Silva and Mahoney scored to tie and then lead with 2:10 left in the first period. But Brown answered 34 seconds later, and the period ended with the match tied at three.
In the second period, the Gaels only needed 32 seconds to retake the lead on Schultz’s second goal, followed by Andrea’s lob score as Iona led 5-3 with 6:43 to halftime. Brown crept back within one 1:06 later, but Allen increased the Gaels’ edge to two 6-4 at the 2:49 mark. The Bears scored on their next possession, but Iona still held a 6-5 at the intermission.
Just 1:37 into the third quarter, Mahoney put Iona back up by two 7-5, then Brown got within one 7-6 with 4:35 left. Allen scored on a 6-on-5 advantage 1:20 later, and as a result, Iona was ahead 8-6 going into the final period. The teams traded goals in the fourth (Schultz’s third), but the Gaels held on for the win.
#22 HARVARD 14, IONA 5
In the loss to #22 Harvard, seniors Rebecca Mathews, and Silva each scored once, along with Bortz, Schultz and Allen. Schultz was ejected from the match in the second period.
In goal, Delucchi made six saves and one steal, and Vilander made five saves and one steal. On defense, Iona made six steals, and blocked two shots, both by Allen.
Schultz put Iona on the board first only 1:07 into the match, but the Crimson hit three unanswered goals for a 3-1 advantage with 3:48 left. At 2:06, Bortz pulled Iona within one, but Harvard struck twice for a 5-2 edge going into the second quarter. Harvard’s defense held Iona scoreless in the second period, with its offense hitting four consecutive scores for a 9-2 halftime lead.
In the third period, the Crimson tacked on two more goals, until Silva ended the Gaels scoring drought with 1:14 left in the quarter. A Harvard goal in the closing seconds put the hosts up 12-3 entering the final period. Iona head coach Brian Kelly rallied his squad for two quick goals in the fourth quarter, but the Crimson answered with two more to preserve their win.
IONA 16, BOSTON UNIVERSITY 1 (Exhibition)
In the Gaels exhibition match win over Boston University, Schultz led Iona with three goals, while Mahoney, Bortz, sophomore Megan Hofer and freshman Alyssa Gayapa hit two goals each. Matthews, Andrea, junior Darby Nevins, sophomore Brittany Toro, freshman Alexandra Guerra scored one apiece. Playing one quarter each in goal, Delucchi made one save, Vilander had one, freshman Jordin Hale had three, and freshman Andrea Guerra had one.
Now in twentieth season at the helm, Kelly saw the weekend as a “positive” start for the 2016 campaign.
“We played well the majority of the weekend, and poorly in spots,” Kelly said. “Overall, it was a positive weekend, and one we are going to learn a lot from.”
One of Kelly’s stars from two MAAC championship squads, local teacher Mackenzie Mone, made her debut on the bench today as one of his two assistants, along with alumnus Chris Vidale.
The Gaels travel to the Princeton Invitational on February 12-14 to face California Baptist, California Lutheran, Bucknell, Princeton and CAMO (exhibition).