NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With a strong belief in their friends, the Iona women’s water polo team spent Friday cheering on the Gaels’ basketball team in the NCAA Tournament.
“Everyone at Iona is extremely close, but there’s just that separate community of athletes,” junior Megan Hofer told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer. “So it’s just really cool to be able to cheer them on here.”
They were also keeping an eye on the other local team playing at the same time. Seton Hall ended up falling to Arkansas, 77-71.
“It’s always difficult when it ends, but, man, I’m super proud of where these guys have brought this program,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said after the loss.
Back at Iona, the gathering spot is always the same — the famous Beechmont Tavern in New Rochelle.
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“Bruce Springstreen’s song, he talks about The Levee, and Beechmont is The Levee,” said senior Darby Nevins.
“It’s not Bruce Springsteen. It’s Don McLean,” her friend corrects her.
“Are you talking about the song ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean?” Overmyer interrupts.
On Friday, Iona’s shooting was dry. A team that relies so heavily on the 3-pointer could never find its range.
And a realization soon set in.
“To see them here, I’m really proud that they made it to the tournament, and I think it’s awesome that they get to represent Iona on the bigger, national scale,” Nevins said.
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Iona showed a ton of heart coming back from a 26-point deficit to make it a game, but they lost to No. 3 seed Oregon 93-77 in Sacramento, California.
“As athletes, everyone wants to get where they are,” Hofer said. “So that’s an unbelievable accomplishment that they won MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).”
“Can’t take that away from them,” another member of the water polo team said. “They made it to the Dance. That’s incredible.”
Even though the season came to a painful close, just making the tournament is its own victory.