Iona earns third seed in MAAC Tournament

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

The Iona College women’s water polo team ended the regular season by winning three of its last four games to clinch a spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

“I’m proud of the program,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “We’ve been very competitive and consistent. It’s a tough league and it gets tougher every year.”

The Gaels (12-22, 9-5 MAAC) defeated Siena and La Salle in a doubleheader on April 15 to earn the third seed in the conference tournament. Iona saw eight players find the net in its 12-4 victory over La Salle. Freshman Laura Rockett had an all-around game as she posted two goals, three steals and four kickouts.

Senior Hannah Schultz, who is Iona’s all-time leading goal scorer, tallied two goals. Senior goalie Britten Vilander registered nine saves and two steals in the net.

“The impact that [Schultz] has had has been unreal,” Kelly said. “She’s going to score over 100 goals in a season again.  She’s doing this while every team’s plan is to stop her. The most remarkable part is that she’s doing this with multiple tears in her shoulder and is playing through pain and injury.”

Iona outscored the Explorers 6-1 in the second quarter. Freshman Erika Wimmer notched her first collegiate goal.

The Gaels continued their offensive dominance in the 17-11 victory over Siena. Iona got going early, scoring the game’s first seven goals. Schultz and senior Kayla Allen each scored eight goals. Freshman Jordan Van Reeken earned a hat-trick on three shots. The Gaels had four other players score at least once.

Vilander tallied eight saves as she played the entire game in the net.

Iona will face second seed Marist (19-16, 12-2 MAAC). The Gaels lost both regular season matchups against the Red Foxes.

“[Marist] is very deep,” Kelly said. “They have a very talented bench and they do a good job of wearing you down with solid defense.”

The winner will face either first seed Wagner or Virginia Military Institute, who is the fourth seed, in the MAAC Championship. If Iona loses to Marist, the team will play in a consolation game on the day of the championship, which is April 29.

“We are more than capable of winning this conference,” Kelly said. “We need to convert on our power play, limit our turnovers, and play our best help defense of the season to bring home a championship.”

The tournament will kick off on April 28. Games can be streamed on ESPN3.

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