PRINCETON, NJ - Despite leading twice and tying the score thrice, the Iona College men’s water polo team could not hold off No. 14 Princeton for a 11- 6 loss in its final match at the 2013 Princeton Invitational. Earlier in the day, the squad dropped an 18-3 match to No. 16 Santa Clara.
Against the Tigers, seniors Matthew Stelnicki and Bryan Driscoll, juniors Kyle Elmore, Jake Lloyd and Ian Thompson, and freshman Hudson Grieve all scored one goal apiece. Senior goalie Stefen Hill recorded 11 saves, including a Princeton five-meter penalty shot. Sophomore Zach Presto was disqualified with three kick-out ejections.
Just 46 seconds into the match, Princeton struck first, but Stelnicki answered to tie the game at one with 4:25 left in the period. Only 1:13 later, Driscoll put the Gaels ahead 2-1.
Three minutes into the second period, the Tigers tied the score at two. Thirty seconds later, Lloyd lofted Stelnick’s assist into the net for the Gaels' second lead of the match. But the home team scored twice for a 4-3 lead at the half.
In the third period, Princeton scored four unanswered goals, until Elmore found the back of the net with 33 seconds left. The Tigers hit again 26 ticks later for a 10-4 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The Gaels held Princeton to a single goal in the fourth period, and Grieve scored his first collegiate goal with 5:58 left, after stealing the ball from the Tigers’ goalie. Thompson hit with 13 seconds remaining for Iona’s final score.
In the contest with Santa Clara, Lloyd led Iona with two goals, while Stelnicki had one.
Santa Clara struck first with 4:59 left in the first period, then hit five straight goals for a 5-0 lead at the quarter’s end. In the second period, the Broncos hit three more until Lloyd put Iona on the board with 3:57 left, followed by Stelnicki’s goal on a 6-5 advantage. With 30 seconds left in the quarter, Lloyd hit his second goal, as Santa Clara led 10-3 at the half.
The Gaels failed to score in the third and fourth periods, as Santa Clara added six goals in the third and two in the fourth for the win.
Despite the Maroon & Gold's losses far this season, head coach Brian Kelly saw improvement despite the squad’s tendency to repeat “bad habits.”
“We have a lot of areas to improve upon,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of positives to' take out of this weekend, but we also revert back to a lot of bad habits. At this point, as a team, these mistakes should be corrected. They shouldn’t be happening.
Iona, still in search of its first victory of the 2013 seasons, heads home for four matches next weekend at Hynes Pool against Harvard, Brown, M.I.T. and Connecticut College.