NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Down by only three goals to No. 13 Hartwick College with 5:24 left in regulation, the Iona women's water polo team fell 20-15 in their home opener this afternoon at Hynes Pool.
Senior Devika Joshi, senior Kayla Allen and freshman Jordan Van Reeken led the Gaels (2-12) with three goals each. Seniors Hannah Schultz and Megan Hofer had two scores each, while senior Karli Normand and freshman Laura Rockett added one goal apiece.
Senior goalie Britten Vilander made four saves on 14 Harwick shots, nabbed four steals, added an assist, and allowed 11 goals in the deep-end cage. Redshirt sophomore goalie Jordin Hale made four saves on 13 Hawks shots and one steal, while giving up nine goals in the shallow-end goal.
On defense, Iona made seven steals and blocked one shot. Iona drew 11 Harwick kickouts with four by Schultz, while being ejected 15 times. Hofer, Rockett and Van Reeken were disqualified with three kickouts each. Iona made five of twelve man-up opportunities, while Hartwick converted on 6-of-14. The Gaels turned the ball over 11 times.
Hartwick struck first on its second possession with 1:07 gone in the match for 1-0 edge. Iona answered a minute later on Joshi's goal, thanks to Vilander's pool-length assist, to tie the match at one. Two straight scores in the next 33 seconds gave the visitors a 3-1 lead with 5:23 left in the opening period. Schultz's first score pulled the Gaels back within one, 3-2 with 4:57 remaining. Three more Hawks goals upped their lead to four 6-2 with 3:28 on the clock. With 59 ticks left, Schultz trimmed the Hartwick advantage to 6-3, but the visitors answered ten seconds later to lead 7-3 going into second period.
Hartwick opened the second quarter with three unanswered goals for a 10-3 lead with 5:41 remaining. On the Gaels next possession, Allen trimmed the visitors' lead to 10-4, but the Hawks answered on their next possession to go up 11-4 with 5:17 to go. Two straight goals by Hofer and Rockett on their next two possessions got the home squad within five 11-6 with 3:39 left. In the closing 2:29, Hartwick hit two more goals to lead 13-6 at intermission.
In the third period, Iona outscored Hartwick 5-4. With 32 seconds gone, Van Reeken scored, followed by Joshi on the Gaels next possession to cut the Hartwick lead to 13-8. Four unanswered Hartwick goals put the visitors up 17-8 with 3:54 left, but the Gaels responded with three straight goals from Allen, Van Reeken and Hofer in the next 2:09 to narrow the Hawks' lead to six 17-11 going into the final period.
Backed by a frenzied home crowd, the Gaels opened the fourth quarter with three unanswered scores from Allen, Normand and Joshi, which got the hosts within three, 17-14 with 5:24 left in regulation. In the final five minutes, Hartwick outscored Iona 3-1 with Van Reeken finding the back of the net with 56 ticks left.
Despite his squad scoring 15 goals against a nationally ranked opponent, Iona head coach Brian Kelly was disappointed with the defense and offensive turnovers. "We had a very poor defensive first half," Kelly said. "We put ourselves in a major hole with turnovers. You can't turn the ball over to a team like Hartwick. They're a hard enough team to stop in half court. We gave them too many easy goals with bad turnovers."
On Sunday, Iona travels to Marist College to face Brown University at 1:00 PM. The Gaels defeated the Bears 9-8 in their home pool on February 3.