The men’s lacrosse team will open its season with a visit to Amherst on Sunday to take on the Purple and White. The Polar Bears come into the season ranked 11th in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III preseason poll looking to build off of last year’s success. 

The team finished the 2016 season with a 12-5 overall record and finished third in the NESCAC with an in-conference record of 7-3. 

While the Polar Bears’ preseason ranking speaks to the team’s strong performance last season, three NESCAC teams are ranked ahead of Bowdoin with Tufts in second, Middlebury in fifth and Amherst in eighth. The tight in-conference competition poses a threat to Bowdoin’s ultimate goal of winning the NESCAC title.

“Our mission every year is to win the NESCAC championship—I think that’s first and foremost,” said Head Coach Jason Archbell. “It’s not an unreasonable or impossible mission at all but one that’s going to be really tough.”

The strength of the NESCAC is just one of the hurdles the Polar Bears will face in their campaign. The team will also have to cope with the loss of six integral seniors, two of whom were four-year starters at the defensive midfielder position. 

But with the likes of Peter Mumford ’17—a first team All-American—in goal, a strong group of returning players and Archbell—the 2016 New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division III Coach of the Year—at the helm of the program, the team is far from lacking in talent, experience and leadership. 

“Last year we were a young team and that maybe hurt us later in the season,” captain Alex Osgood ’17 said. “This season we are returning a lot of contributing players both on the offensive and defensive side, so that will definitely help in terms of chemistry on the field.” 

Last spring, Bowdoin’s season came to an end in a close but brutal loss to Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinals. The Polar Bears battled back from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost 10-9. With the taste of defeat still lingering from last year, the team recently took on Bates—ranked 16th in the USILA preseason poll—in a scrimmage. 

The team fought hard to squeeze out a 10-9 win over the Bobcats and the success will certainly be a morale booster as the Polar Bears approach the matchup against Amherst.

Although Amherst ranks ahead of Bowdoin in the preseason poll, Bowdoin has a more experienced roster. Amherst graduated 12 seniors last year, significantly impacting its lineup. However, Archbell doesn’t see this as a reason to underestimate the Purple and White.

“They’re always a very talented team,” said Archbell. “I think the only edge we really have is experience, but that doesn’t mean much. It’s who plays better. [And] last time we were there, they smacked us pretty good, so hopefully our guys remember that and we give it right back to them.”

Bowdoin will take on Amherst on Sunday at noon. The game was postponed from its original date of Saturday due to inclement weather.