While the rest of campus was on Whittier Field celebrating Ivies last Saturday, the men's lacrosse team was locked in a defensive battle against Wesleyan in the NESCAC quarterfinals a few hundred yards away.
The Polar Bears defeated the Cardinals 6-4, and will move forward in the tournament to play Trinity at Tufts tomorrow in the semifinals. This is the fifth consecutive year that Bowdoin has made it to the semifinals.
The win was the team's dozenth of the season, and a victory against Trinity would mark the first time Bowdoin has reached 13 wins since 2001.
"Defense played particularly well," said Head Coach Tom McCabe. "It was 5-1 at halftime, and Wesleyan went 30-someodd minutes without scoring after their first goal."
"Anytime we can keep a team down to four or five goals, we have a pretty good chance of winning," he added.
Seth Hanson '13 and Matt Egan '12 were both key to the defense. Hanson caused three turnovers and snaggedfour ground balls, while Egan caused two turnovers and grabbed three ground balls.
Part of Wesleyan's strength is its two offensive midfielders, John Froats and Aldan Daniell.
"I thought that was really their strength, and those guys didn't score a goal," said McCabe. "They took a bunch of shots, but our defenders did a really good job on that."
Two key defensive midfielders who helped stave off Wesleyan's offense were Lawton Salley '12 and Greg Pierce '12.
"Pierce and Salley are two who don't get a lot of recognition," said captain Mark Flibotte '12. "A lot of people who don't know lacrosse wouldn't really notice them, but they were able to shutdown Wesleyan's midfielders so that they couldn't get to the net at all."
Wesleyan in particular is a challenge defensively because the team at times utilizes a zone defense. In zone defense, each defensive player is responsible for a certain area on the field, rather than guarding one of players from the opposing team.
"They switch between zone and man, but if they get their offensive midfielders off and their defensive midfielders on, they'll switch to zone," said Flibotte.
"Wesleyan will try to force you to shoot from the outside, because they have a very strong goalie," added Flibotte. "But we were able to move the ball well and get shots on the goalie early."
Bowdoin's offense started out strong, scoring five goals before halftime. Griffin Cardew '14, Keegan Mehlhorn '12 and Billy Bergner '13 all scored during the first quarter.
Nathan Fritts '12 and Christopher Anderson '12 scored in the second quarter, cementing Bowdoin's lead.
In the second half of the game, however, the offense slowed down a bit, with Bergner scoring the last goal of the game at the beginning of the third quarter.
"We came out firing, went up by six goals, and then sort of cooled down," said Flibotte, who is an offensive midfielder. "We were able to kick them early while they were down, so the second half of the game was just finishing the game."
Offense is one of the things that the Polar Bears hope to improve before their semifinal game against Trinity.
"We need to find ways to give our Flibotte and Mehlhorn more offensive opportunities," said McCabe.
The offense is also going to work on limiting turnovers.
"We've been turning the ball over too much in the past couple of games and giving the other teams too many possessions," said Flibotte. "We need to work on holding the ball and limiting their opportunities."
After a 7-4 loss to Trinity earlier this season, the Bowdoin is excited to have another chance to play the Bantams.
"The score was 7-4, but it was a one-goal game," said McCabe. "The score was 4-4 with three and a half minutes to go, and then they scored. We felt that there were a lot of different ways we could have won that game."
This time around, the Polar Bears have the advantage of having Mehlhorn back in the game. During the teams' last matchup, he was sidelined with a broken finger.
This weekend will also see the return of Conor O'Toole '14, who has been out for a week with a concussion, and possibly Patrick Lawlor '13, who has been out with a hip injury.