RIVERSIDE, CA – Recovering from last night’s loss to California Baptist University, the Iona women’s water polo team rebounded with a 15-9 win over Redlands University in the first of two matches Friday at the 2015 Lancer Invitational hosted by California Baptist University. Notching its second win of the day, the Gaels topped Fresno Pacific University 7-4 later in the day. The Gaels (11-9) are 3-1 on their annual California road trip.
The Gaels are currently 3-1 on their annual six-match California road trip.
Freshman Hannah Schultz lead the Gaels with four goals, while freshman Paige Neary hit three. Senior Jordan Carmody and freshman Brittany Toro had two goals. Junior Meghan Mahoney, junior Sara Bortz, junior Rebecca Mathews, and sophomore Darby Nevins scored one goal each.
Junior goalie Dana Delucchi recorded three saves in the first half and freshman goalie Britten Vilander had one save in the second half. On defense, Carmody drew two Bulldog kickouts, while Bortz had five steals and Mahoney had three.
In the opening six minutes of the match, the Gaels jumped out to a 4-0 lead Thirty-eight seconds into the first period, Mahoney put Iona on the board. With 6:45 left, Schultz scored her first goal, followed by another 1:05 later. At the two-minute mark, Carmody capitalized on a 6-5 advantage, Redlands did the same with 16 ticks left, however, to narrow the Iona lead to 4-1.
The second period featured five consecutive Gael goals, including three by Neary and one each from Schultz and Bortz. The Bulldogs scored with 59 seconds left as Iona led 9-2 at halftime.
Redlands struck on a 6-5 advantage with 2:04 gone in the third, but the Gaels answered with solo goals from Schultz, Carmody and Nevins, and two by Toro. With 13 seconds left in the third, the Bulldogs scored, but Iona led 14-5 going into the final frame.
With Iona head coach Brian Kelly playing his entire squad, including senior goalie Devin Green in the field, the Bulldogs outscored the Gaels 5-1 in the final quarter with Matthews scoring the lone Iona goal.
Mahoney and Neary led Iona with two goals each. Mathews, junior Taylor Silva, and freshman Kayla Allen had one goal apiece. Delucci recorded nine saves. On defense, Silva drew three Sunbirds kickouts, Allen made two steals, and Matthews had three blocked shots. Junior Dana Andrea won all four swimoffs.
Just 1:18 into the match, Silva put Iona on the board, followed by Matthews to give Iona a 2-0 edge with 4:12 left in the first. Fresno Pacific answered 1:21 later to narrow the Gael lead to 2-1.
With 5:42 to go in the second period, Neary increased the Iona advantage to 3-1. Allen capitalized on a 6-5 advantage with 1:31 left, as the Gaels held the Sunbirds scoreless in the second quarter to lead 4-1 at halftime.
Only 1:48 into the third Mahoney put Iona up 5-1, as neither team scored until Fresno Pacific’s last-second score on a 6-5 advantage to trim Iona’s margin to 5-2.
Mahoney’s second goal 1:04 into the fourth gave the Gaels a 6-2 edge. But Fresno Pacific rallied with a goal with five minutes left and another with 3:47 left to trim the Gaels lead to two 6-4. Kelly called time out with 2:03 left, Delucchi’s desperate swipe prevented a sure Fresno Pacific goal much to the delight of the Gael faithful who traveled here. Neary’s goal with 1:24 to go ended the Fresno Pacific threat and sealed the win.
Kelly was pleased with his squad’s performance, particularly on the defensive end of the pool.
“Two quality wins against two very physical opponents today,” Kelly said. “It was nice to play well, especially defensively. Yesterday we did not have a good defensive day, so therefore it was nice to turn things around.”
On Saturday Iona takes on Chapman-Mudd-Scripps at 12:00 pm, and Concordia at 5:00 pm before heading back home that evening.