POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Rebounding from yesterday's semi-final loss to number-one seed Wagner College, the fourth-seeded Iona women's water polo team took third place in the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship with a 11-10 win over third-seeded Virginia Military Institute in this afternoon's consolation match at Marist College.
All-MAAC Second Team selection junior Kayla Allen led the Gaels (12-13 overall) with four goals, while Co-offensive MAAC Player of the Year junior Hannah Schultz had three goals. Junior Devika Joshi made two goals, and junior Megan Hofer and freshman Regan Warmoth had one score apiece. Allen assisted on two goals and Schultz assisted on one tally.
In goal, All-MAAC Second Team selection junior Britten Vilander made nine saves on 22 VMI shots, and four steals, including one goal-saving theft in the closing minute.
On defense, the Gaels made 15 steals with eight by Allen, and three blocked shots. Iona drew nine VMI kickouts, while being ejected 13 times. Normand and Schultz were disqualified with three ejections each. The Gaels scored on two of nine man-up opportunities, while VMI scored on five of eleven.
With 29 seconds gone in the match, Schultz put Iona on the board 1-0, followed by Allen 2:31 later, as the Gaels led 2-0 with 5:20 gone in the first period. VMI scored 1:57 later with a 6-4 advantage on a double Iona ejection, but Schultz's second goal upped the Iona lead to 3-1 with 3:41 on the clock. Two straight Keydet scores within 24 seconds tied the match at three with 2:54 to go. VMI went up 4-3 on a man-up opportunity, then Allen knotted the match at four with seven ticks left in the opening quarter.
Starting a second quarter 5-0 run, Schultz needed only 25 seconds to give the Gaels the lead 5-4. Allen's third goal with 4:50 to halftime up Iona up by two 6-4. Hofer's layout lob continued the Iona 3-0 run for a 7-4 Gael advantage at the 3:19 mark. Over the next 1:39, the Gael offense continued to frustrate the Keydet defense as goals from Allen and Warmoth gave Iona a 9-4 cushion. With a second left in the quarter, a VMI goal from half tank narrowed the Iona advantage to 9-5 at halftime.
In the opening 1:43 of the third period, VMI scored on two straight man-up chances to pull with two 9-7. Another Keydet score with 3:20 to go cut the Gael lead to one 9-8. Joshi ended the VMI 3-0 run 24 seconds later as Iona went back up two 10-8 going into the final period.
The Keydets pulled back within one, 10-9 just 50 seconds into the fourth quarter. Joshi scored on a man-up advantage 57 ticks later to put Iona up 11-9. VMI pulled back within a goal 11-10 with 1:22 left, but missed two point-blank shots in the closing minute, as the Gaels ended their season with the one-goal victory.
With only ten players in the pool this season, Iona head coach Brian Kelly praised his squad for concluding “an amazing year” with a victory and the last match for his senior co-captains Rebecca Koshy and Darby Nevins.
“It was a great finish to an amazing year,” Kelly said. “I'm proud of what our team has been able to accomplish battling through an entire season with only ten girls.”
Schultz concludes the season with 92 goals and now sits fourth all-time in program history with 291. Allen was named to the All-Tournament team, scoring five goals and dishing out three assists in two games for the Maroon & Gold.