The Iona Gaels looked to be taking a step back this season after having a 3-3 record prior to heading into the Harvard Invite this past weekend. Iona started this weekend by losing to the No. 12 ranked San Jose St. Spartans 12-9. Even though Iona lost to San Jose State the three-goal loss was an excellent showing.
On the weekend they ended up going 3-1 and earned the teams 250th career victory when they defeated Mercyhurst 11-4, and were rarely challenged. In the win against Mercyhurst the Gaels were led by Senior Mackenzie Mone who had a hat trick and three steals.
Sunday is when the tide turned for Iona as they rebounded to beat Bucknell and Harvard both schools who they lost to just last week. The first matchup was against Bucknell who had a record of 8-7 coming to this game against Iona and had won five of their last six games.
This game was just like their prior meeting as each team responded to each others goals for the first three periods with Iona leading 9-8 heading into the fourth quarter. In the fourth Iona able to increase their lead by outscoring Bucknell 4-3 in the final frame for the win. Bucknell had some chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter but Iona's defense was able to stop any comeback attempt. Iona ended up winning 13-11.
The game against Harvard was an excellent contest that went into sudden death overtime with Iona winning 12-11. The win for Iona gave them a 2-1 record against Harvard this season, and this matchup was the second straight game that needed to be decided with sudden death overtime. Harvard really should have won this game as they led by as many as four goals durring regulation, but they allowed Iona to crawl back in this game and force overtime. Just prior to overtime Iona had a chance for the win but the desperation 9-meter attempt came close to going in but it hit the post as time expired.
In the first overtime period the defenses took over -- or fatigue, just depends how you look at it -- with Harvard scoring the only goal to lead 10-9 after the first overtime frame. Harvard's Shayna Price scored within a minute of the second overtime period to go up 11-9. At that point with the way the defenses have been playing Harvard was looking like thy were going to win as there was just over two minutes left in the game.
Well, Iona came storming back for the second time in this game by scoring a goal on their next possession to make it a 10-9 game. On Harvard's next possession they ran the shot clock all the way down before taking a shot which was tipped by an Iona field player which give Harvard a new 35-second shot clock with about a minute left. Harvard then just sat on the ball and ran the shot clock down before throwing the ball away and giving Iona only 32 seconds left, and down by one.
Iona got some luck when Cecilia Leondard took a back handed shot from near mid-pool which just went past the outstretched arm of Harvard's Ariel Dukes and slowly floated into the goal. Harvard had 12 seconds left but could not get a shot off, so with the game tied at 11 the two teams went onto sudden death overtime.
Iona put the game away quickly in sudden death when they won the sprint and the game winning shot was made when Leonard made a lob shot just 34 seconds into sudden death to give the Gaels the 12-11 win.
These three wins should get Iona back in the top 20 polls that will be released on Wednesday.