Pioneers Drop Season Opener Falling to Iona, 8-6

Emily Pepe
Emily Pepe

FAIRFIELD, CT (February 20, 2013) - Sacred Heart senior Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY) scored three goals and added an assist but Iona junior goalkeeper Maria Ortiz came up with 16 saves to lift the Gaels to an 8-6 win over the Pioneers in the season opener for both teams Wednesday afternoon. 

The Pioneers (0-1) out shot Iona (1-0) 29-21 but couldn't solve Ortiz who stopped nine shots in the first half to give her team a 4-2 halftime lead.  Iona senior Kylie Gregory scored three goals and assisted on two others to lead the Gaels.

Iona opened a 1-0 lead just over two minutes in on a goal by Nicole Brancaccio while the Pioneers finally cracked the scoring column at the 16:43 mrk.  Pepe finished a feed from junior Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY) and four minutes later, freshman Jenna Liljeberg (Wrentham, MA) put the Pioneers up 2-1 with her first collegiate goal.

From there, Ortiz kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard for the rest of the first half and the first six and a half minutes of the second half.  The Gaels took advantage with a five-goal run with Gregory and sophomore Casey Palmer scoring twice on the rally for a 6-2 lead with 26:08 left in the second half.  SHU's Russo was lost for the game after she picked up her second yellow card just 36 seconds into the second half.

The Pioneers scored three-straight starting with a marker from junior Shelby Vaccaro (Brightwaters, NY) at 23:27.  Pepe added an 8-meter goal and then fed sophomore Taylor Babin (Ellicott City, MD) to pulled the Pioneers within 6-5 with 11:27 left.

Iona won the ensuing draw and Mary Kate McCormick buried an 8-meter attempt at 10:32.  Gregory added a man-up goal at 9:15 to give Iona an 8-5 lead.  Pepe scored her third at 5:53 but turnovers and a late save by Ortiz left the Pioneers short of a rally.

The Pioneers will be back in action on Saturday, March 2nd when they host Holy Cross at 12:00 pm