NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - In a season that has produced monumental firsts week after week, the VMI water polo team earned its first ever victory over a Top 25 opponent today by defeating No. 23 Marist by a 17-15 score in overtime Saturday morning in New Rochelle, New York.
In the afternoon, the Keydets (22-6, 11-3 MAAC) sweeped the day's competition with a hard-fought 10-9 victory over Iona College for their second win over the Gaels this season.
"It was great to end the regular season strong and lock up the No. 3 seed for the MAAC tournament," said VMI head coach Ryan Pryor. "The team is getting better every week and I'm so proud of the way they have worked and battled throughout the year. We're looking forward to competing at the MAAC Champs in two weeks. It should be a wide open tournament and we're excited for the opportunity to compete for a title."
VMI 17, No. 23 Marist 15 (OT)
Previously 0-11 against the Red Foxes in the all-time series history, including a 15-8 setback a few weeks ago in Poughkeepsie, the Keydets rallied for six goals in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Down 13-11 with under two minutes left in regulation, Keydets Natalie Rivas (1:25) and Cecilya Lundy (0:20) scored the goals for VMI to force the two extra periods.
The Red Foxes scored twice in the first overtime period while VMI's Shelby Barkley scored once for the Keydets. Down 15-14 entering the second overtime period, the Keydets scored three unanswered goals to finish off the come-from-behind 17-15 victory. Sophia DelBondio scored twice and Barkley once more to end the game.
DelBondio and Rivas led the Keydets with four goals apiece in the win while Lundy added three. Barkley tallied a pair of scores with Emma Noble, Bailey Huddleston, Haley Scott and Sarah Dolitsky each had one to contribute to the victory.
Freshman goalie Isabel French earned the win with 19 saves, tying her season high and matching the No. 2 spot she already attained in the VMI program history book for saves in a single match.
VMI 10, Iona 9
With the Keydets claiming a hard fought 16-13 victory over the Gaels two weeks ago at home, another close battle was expected and came to fruition as VMI secured its 22nd win of the year with a 10-9 win over host Iona in its afternoon tilt.
Tied at 2-2 after the opening period, VMI jumped to a 6-4 advantage by the half by outscoring the Gaels 4-2 in the second. The Keydets would hold on to the lead until the 1:12 mark of the fourth quarter when Iona tied it up at 9-9.
Undeterred, the Keydets played until the final whistle as Rivas scored the winning goal with only 48 seconds left in the match to lift VMI to the win. She also scored in the first and third periods to lead the Keydets with a hat trick for the match.
Barkley and DelBondio each notched a pair of goals while Huddleston, Scott and Dolitsky also had one score.
In another complete match, French earned the win in the cage with12 saves in the effort.
The Gaels were paced by two goals apiece from Rebecca Koshy, Kayla Allen and Hannah Schultz.
VMI will compete in its first ever MAAC Tournament, which is slated for April 29-30 at the McCann Natatorium in Poughkeepsie, New York, hosted by Marist. As a No. 3 seed, VMI will square off with No. 2 seed Marist at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 29.