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Water Polo Clinches MAAC Tournament Berth, Tops Nova 9-6

          Release: 04/09/2017
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STATEN ISLAND, NY – The Iona women’s water polo team clinched a berth into the 2017 MAAC Tournament with a 9-6 victory over Villanova University this morning at Wagner College.

Junior Kayla Allen led Iona (10-11, 7-5 MAAC) with three goals, while senior co-captain Darby Nevins and junior Hannah Schultz scored two. Juniors Megan Hofer and Devika Joshi added one goal apiece.

In goal, junior Britten Vilander had seven saves on 15 Villanova shots, eight steals and two assists.

On defense, the Gaels made 19 steals with five by Allen and four by Nevins, and two blocked shots.   Iona drew five Villanova kickouts, while being ejected five times. The Gaels committed six turnovers.  Both Iona and Villanova capitalized on three of five man-up opportunities.

With 2:55 gone in the match, Schultz put Iona on the board first, but Villanova answered with 3:54 left in the first period to tie the game at one. Schultz struck again on the Gaels next possession, then the Wildcats knotted the score at two on a five-meter penalty shot with 2:16 left. On a Vilander assist, Nevins gave Iona the lead back 2-1 going into the second quarter.

Taking advantage of Iona’s first man-up chance, Allen increased the Gaels lead to 4-2 with 4:33 on the clock. With 2:21 left in the first half, Villanova pulled within one 4-3.

In the first 2:39 of third period, the Gaels hit two straight goals from Allen and Nevins to go up 6-3.  The Wildcats capitalized on two consecutive 6-5 advantages to get back within one 6-5 with 3:39 left. With just 15 ticks on the clock, Hofer put Iona up 4-3 going into the final period.

Allen’s second goal on Iona’s first fourth-quarter possession with :32 gone upped the Gael edge to three 8-5, but Villanova answered 13 ticks later pulling back with two 8-6. Joshi scored on a 6-5 advantage for a three-goal cushion 9-6 with 3:21 left in regulation to seal the win.

Iona head coach Brian Kelly was pleased with his squad’s consistent defensive effort throughout the weekend.

“It was a big win for us, one that insures that we qualify for MAAC Championships,” Kelly said.

“Once again, a very solid defensive game.  The tone was set defensively inside and out from Britten Vilander in goal, and Karli Normand in two-meter defense.”

The Gaels wrap up their regular season at home on Saturday against LaSalle University at 9 a.m. and Virginia Military Institute at 4 p.m.

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