LOUDONVILLE — Annie Bagnall said it was “go time.”
She laughed while referring to the nifty little pass she tapped to Jayanna Monds for the game-clinching goal, but she could’ve been speaking about the MAAC tournament in general for the Siena women’s soccer team.
In a compact patch of Hickey Field, Monds split two Iona defenders, gave it up to Bagnall and continued sprinting toward the goal for a one-touch give-and-go that Monds deftly finished for a 3-0 lead with 6:34 left that would serve as the final score on Friday.
In a compact season that has amounted to six games in 16 days, the top-seeded Saints (5-0-1) hit the ground running in the MAAC tournament with a quarterfinal victory that sends them to the semifinals against Rider at home right back on Monday.
It’s a measure of how bizarre this short season is that Siena did not play either of its potential semifinal opponents, Rider or Manhattan, during the whirlwind regular season, which began on March 25.
The season has been even more compressed for Bagnall, who said she tested positive for COVID-19 on March 15 and missed the first two games before making her college career debut against Saint Peter’s on March 30.
Nevertheless, she and her team appear to be up to speed, based on the Iona result. Bagnall, a freshman from West Wyoming, Pennsylvania, also scored the Saints’ second goal, in the 77th minute on an assist from Ballston Spa graduate Caitlin Wania.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” she said. “I just got back from having COVID around the Canisius game, so it’s been tough, but all the girls have been supporting everyone. Day by day, we all have to fight for each other, both in practices and in games, and it’s been showing.
“I wasn’t ready for game speed when I came back, so I had to build my way back up. The adrenaline definitely helps.”
“The team is built to play a lot of games in a short period of time,” head coach Steve Karbowski said.
“There’s no two players that are exactly alike on the team. So if we need a little more possession or more speed or to kill off the game or need a goal, there’s a lot of good options we can go to.”
Not only did Siena beat Iona 6-0 in the season opener, but the Gaels (1-4-1) were missing some players after a COVID test came back positive among their Tier 1 personnel, which forced the cancellation of their season finale on Tuesday.
Still, Iona carried the play in the opening minutes, and it took most of the first half for Siena to take command.
Restart plays by Deanna Lomino produced dangerous scoring chances, including a free kick with 16:51 left in the half that led to a header that Iona goalie Angelina DeCicco stopped with a spectacular dive to her left.
On the ensuing corner kick off Lomino’s foot, Bagnall redirected a header inside the left post, but defender Taylor D’Alessandro was there to block it.
Siena finally got on the board with 5:32 left in the half when sophomore Katrina Kurtz blasted a right-footed shot from the top of the box on an assist from Julianna Kissane.
“These games are always close, and Iona’s always a good team that gives us a run for our money, so we came out with the mentality that that game [on March 25] never happened and this was a totally new game and we wanted get out to a quick start,” Lomino said. “It didn’t happen that way, but we recovered well and played a good second half.”
“The game went as expected,” Karbowski said. “I was surprised it was tight early, it’s a playoff game. We had played Iona a few weeks ago, but figured it would be a different game. So really happy with how we stayed the course and kept playing. The second half was really well done.”
Siena will have a light recovery day on Saturday and a full practice on Sunday.
Karbowski said the Saints are built for this based on the depth of their roster, but the team is also showing that it can figure things out on the fly.
“It’s definitely taking a toll on our bodies, but we’re a really tough team, and we’re not quitters, so we’re going to play ever practice, every game, the full 90 minutes,” said junior Carrie Krohn, a Schoharie graduate. “Anything it takes to win that MAAC championship.”
Iona 0 0 — 0
Siena 1 2 — 3
Siena scoring: Kurtz 1-0, Kissane 0-1, Monds 1-0, Bagnall 1-1, Wania 0-1.
Goalies: Iona, DeCicco, 3 saves. Siena, Boermeester, 1 save.