NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Despite two hard-fought battles against two nationally ranked teams, the Iona women’s water polo team lost to Indiana University (#14) and the University of California San Diego (#16), while failing to notch its first season win at the Harvard University Invitational here today.
Indiana 15 Iona 8
Down only two goals at halftime, the Iona women’s water polo team managed only three goals in the second half in a 15-8 loss to number-fourteen ranked Indiana University in the first of two matches today at the Harvard University Invitational.
Senior co-captain Rebecca Koshy led the Gaels with four goals. Junior Hannah Schultz scored two goals, and senior co-captain Darby Nevins and junior Devika Joshi added one goal each. No Iona scores were assisted. Junior goalie Britten Vilander made 11 saves and one steal.
On defense, Iona made seven steals, three by junior Megan Hofer, and one block. The Gaels drew six Hoosier ejections, two by Nevins, while being kicked out nine times. Taking advantage of two of five i man-up opportunities, the squad allowed five goals on Indiana’s nine chances.
Only 57 seconds into the match, Koshy put Iona on the board, but over the next four minutes, the Hoosiers scored four straight goals for a 4-1 lead with 3:22 left in the first period. Koshy’s second score pulled Iona within two 4-2, but Indiana responded with two more scores to go ahead 6-2.
The Gaels outscored the Hoosiers 3-1 in the second quarter. With 1:50 gone in the period, Joshy found the back of the net, then Indiana answered 50 ticks later for a 7-3 edge. Schultz slammed home a five-meter penalty shot, followed by Koshy’s third goal to narrow the Hoosiers advantage to 7-5 with 2:15 to intermission.
Indiana hit four unanswered scores in the third period until Schultz’s second score for a 11-6 lead going into the final period. In the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Indiana hit three straight scores, until Iona answered with two goals – Koshy’s fourth and Nevin’s steal-breakaway score.
UCSD 13 Iona 7
After tying number-sixteen UCSD three times in the first quarter, down only three goals at the half, and each team scoring only one goal apiece in the third quarter, the Gaels were outscored 5-2 in the final quarter to fall 13-7 to the 14th-ranked Tritons.
Koshy led the Gaels with two goals and one assist, while junior Kayla Allen, Nevins, Hofer, Joshy and Schultz added one goal each. In goal, Vilander made five steals, and 14 saves on 27 UCSD shots.
On defense, the Gaels made four steals and one block. Iona drew three UCSD kickouts, while being ejected eight times with junior Karli Normand being disqualified and Nevins being yellow-carded. Iona made 16 turnovers, but made two goals on three man-up advantages to UCSD’s four goals on seven chances.
UCSD scored first just 21 seconds into the match, but Koshy answered to tie the score at one 1:30 later. The Tritons went back up with 6:01 left in the first, then Hofer tied the score again at two with 4:15 to go. At the 3:01 mark, UCSD retook the lead 3-2, but was outscored 2-1 in the final minute for a 4-4 tie going into second period. Nevins knotted the game at three with 58 ticks left, followed by a Triton five-meter penalty shot 19 seconds later, then Koshy’s second goal tied the game with 20 seconds on clock.
In the second period, three unanswered goals gave UCSD a 7-4 lead at intermission as the Gaels failed to score and committed seven first-half turnovers, while Allen sat on the bench with two ejections.
In the third period, each team managed only one goal apiece. Neither squad scored until 2:51 gone in the third period when Joshy’s lob closed the gap to 7-5. The Tritons increased the lead to 8-5 with 3:44 on the clock.
While hitting three straight goals, the Tritons held the Gaels scoreless until Allen’s goal with 3:10 left in regulation. UCSD hit again with 2:51 to go, but Schultz needed only 13 seconds to pull Iona with five 12-7. But a Triton goal sealed the win with 28 ticks left.
Even with sixth straight non-conference losses in a “difficult schedule,” Iona head coach Brian Kelly felt that today’s two matches demonstrated the team’s potential for a strong Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season.
“It was a very positive day battling the number-fourteen and number-sixteen teams closely into second half of both games,” Kelly said. “We will learn a lot and will get better from these two games today.
“We’ve had a difficult schedule to start the season playing a lot of the best teams in the country. We’ve shown in each contest that we’re able to compete with some of the top teams in the country.”
Iona plays an exhibition match tomorrow at 8 a.m. against the University of Toronto.