ERIE, Pa. – With the 2017 season underway, the VMI women’s water polo team started the campaign off on the right foot by sweeping the first day of competition at the Mercyhurst Invitational Saturday at the Prep-Villa Event Center in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The Keydets earned a 13-9 victory over Gannon in their 10:30 a.m. match and later defeated Saint Francis (Pa.) by a 17-11 tally in a 6:45 p.m. pairing.
"It's great to start off with a couple of wins and have everyone contributing," said VMI head coach Ryan Pryor. "We had some really great sequences today that we'll build on tomorrow and as the season continues."
VMI 13, Gannon 9
Tied 3-3 after the first period, the Keydets shut out the Golden Knights in the second period while scoring four goals of their own in what proved to be the difference in the game. Gannon outscored VMI by a 6-5 tally in the second half, but the Keydets’ defensive efforts in the second period led to the first win of the season.
Bailey Huddleston, Emma Noble and Shelby Barkley scored goals for VMI in the second period while the defensive staff held Gannon scoreless.
Barkley had a team-high eight shot attempts and three goals during the game in addition to two steals on the defensive end. Noble, Huddleston and Haley Scott each recorded two goals, while Caroline Wojtas, Natalie Rivas and Madison Curran also logged one goal apiece.
Campbell Ruh of Gannon led the Golden Knights with four goals in the loss.
VMI 17, Saint Francis (Pa.) 11
Tied at 4-4 at the end of the opening period, the Keydets again utilized an impressive second quarter and high-scoring third period en route to a 17-11 victory over Saint Francis.
Scott, Cecily Lundy, Sarah Dolitsky and Emma Perez notched goals in the first period before Rebecca Serrano, Barkley, Dolitsky and Huddleston tallied additional goals in the second. The Keydet defense was again tuned in during the second period, allowing just one goal to go into halftime with an 8-5 VMI lead.
The Keydet attack stayed aggressive in the third period to score six goals as Perez, Lundy, Rivas, Scott and Sophia DelBondio registered goals during the quarter. VMI would go on to score three insurance goals in the final period for the 17-11 win.
VMI resumes the Mercyhurst Invitational on Sunday with two matches. The Keydets face Bucknell in an early 8:45 a.m. matchup before taking on host Mercyhurst at 12:30 p.m.