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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Iona College men’s water polo team split a Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) doubleheader in Cambridge as the Gaels knocked off Division III No. 8-ranked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in overtime, 15-14, before falling to No. 11 Harvard University, 20-8.

Iona head coach Brian Kelly was pleased with his squad’s “level of compete,” but disappointed with the weekend’s “tough” schedule of four matches in two days as the Gaels handled Connecticut College, 18-10, and fell at Brown University, 15-7, on Saturday, October 30.

“The schedule didn’t do us any favors this weekend,” Kelly said.  “We had a tough weekend that tested our conditioning.  I was happy with our level of competition, but it’s tough to play two games in a day back-to-back versus a rested team in the second game.” 

In the morning game, Iona and MIT battled in an overtime match that featured seven ties and four lead changes as the Gaels held on for a 15-14 win.

Freshman Luksa Vlasic led the Maroon and Gold with four goals, while senior co-captain Justin Ginsberg, junior Lester Machado and sophomore Andrew Miller had three goals each. Junior Mohamed Refaat scored two goals. The Gaels scored 15 goals on 39 shots and had 10 assists with three by Miller. Iona won all six swim-offs.

In cage, sophomore Diego Gomez posted 18 saves on 37 Engineers’ shots, made three steals and had 14 goals against. On defense, the Gaels made ten steals with two each by Vlasic and Refaat and had two blocked shots. Iona drew nine MIT kickouts, while being ejected nine times. Iona scored two goals on nine man-up chances, while MIT scored one goal on eight man-up opportunities. The Gaels turned the ball over nine times.

On the Gaels’ first possession, Ginsberg put Iona on the board first with 21 seconds gone in the match. Machado followed to give the Gaels a 2-0 edge with 5:08 remaining in the opening quarter. The Engineers answered with two straight scores to knot the score at two-all with 51 ticks left.

MIT continued a 3-0 run into the second quarter to make the lead 3-2 with 39 seconds gone. A minute later, Miller knotted the score at three-all, but the Engineers regained a one-goal edge 4-3 on their next possession. Miller’s second goal on a man-up chance knotted the game at four-all with 2:56 left.

The Gaels recaptured the lead at 4-3 as Miller took advantage of another man-up chance at the 1:31 mark. Ginsberg’s second score gave the Gaels a two-goal 6-4 lead by halftime.

Two straight goals from Vlasic put Iona up four 8-4 with 2:09 gone in the third quarter. The Engineers answered with four consecutive goals to tie the match at eight-all with 3:10 remaining. The hosts went back on top at 9-8 via a five-meter penalty shot, then Refaat balanced the scoreboard at nine-all with 1:01 to go. After a MIT score gave the hosts a one-goal edge, Ginsberg’s third score with 27 ticks left knotted the match at ten-all heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.

Neither squad scored until the four-minute mark when MIT retook the lead 11-10. The Engineers added a man-up score on their next trip down the pool with 3:07 remaining. Vlasic’s third goal got Iona back within one 12-11 just 28 seconds later. After a Gaels’ timeout, Refaat squared the score for the seventh time at 12-all with 1:31 on the clock to force overtime.

Machado’s unassisted score with ten seconds left put Iona up one 13-12 going into the second overtime. Vlasic opened the second overtime with his fourth score from seven-meters to give the Gaels a two-goal edge at 14-12. MIT answered on its next chance to trim the Iona lead back to one 14-13. With 29 seconds remaining, Machado’s second score put Iona up 15-13. Despite another MIT goal 17 ticks later to inch within 15-14, Iona held on for the win.

Taking on the NWPC defending champion Crimson of Harvard, the Gaels were not able to claim their second win of the day.

After leading by a goal going into the second quarter, Iona allowed nine straight Harvard scores in a 20-8 conference loss. Refaat lead the Maroon and Gold with three goals on four shots, while Vlasic had two scores.  Machado, junior Timothy Bergamini and sophomore Trippe Bauman each racked up one goal.. The Gaels made eight goals on 27 shots with five assists.

Between the pipes, Gomez compiled 12 saves on 28 Crimson shots, made five steals and had 18 goals against in the first three quarters. Junior Kyle Laufenberg made two saves on five Crimson shots and had five goals against in the fourth quarter.

On defense, the Gaels made eight steals and had two blocked shots. Iona drew five Harvard kickouts with two each from Bauman and freshman William Harrington, while being ejected six times. Iona scored one goal on five man-up chances, Harvard scored three goals on six man-up opportunities.

The Gaels took an early one-goal lead on Vlasic’s first score with 1:45 gone in the match. Harvard answered 15 ticks later to tie the game at one with six minutes on the clock. On its next possession, Harvard scored on a rebound off a five-meter penalty shot block by Gomez to go up 2-1. After Machado converted a five-meter penalty shot to re-tie the game at two-all, the Crimson went back up one 3-2 at the 3:42 mark. Vlasic’s second goal resulted in the match’s third tie at three apiece with 2:50 remaining. With 58 seconds left, Refaat put Iona back on top by one 4-3 going into the second quarter.

With five straight scores, including three off Iona turnovers, the hosts retook the lead and built a five-goal 9-4 halftime advantage as the Gaels failed to score in the second quarter.

The Crimson continued a 9-0 run into the opening 1:36 of the third period with three unanswered goals for a 12-4 edge with 6:24 left in the frame. Refaat’s second goal ended the Gaels’ offensive drought to trim the home lead to seven (12-5) at the 5:53 mark, but three more Harvard scores, including a five-meter penalty shot goal, upped the Crimson’s margin to 15-5 by the third quarter horn.

After two Harvard goals continued a 5-0 Crimson run, Refaat’s third score cut the home edge to 17-6 with 6:21 remaining in regulation. Harvard tacked on two more goals, including a five-meter penalty goal, then Bauman sliced the Harvard lead to 19-7 at the 3:39 mark. Following another Harvard score, Bergamini found the back of the net at the buzzer for the 20-8 final count.

Information courtesy Iona College Athletics Communications


Collegiate Water Polo Association