After finishing the 2011 season with a painful overtime loss to top-seeded Amherst for the second year in a row, the women’s soccer team is looking for redemption in 2012. Last Fall, the Polar Bears ended their season with a conference record of 2-5-3. 

This year the team returns with new fire and a new head coach, Brianne Weaver. Last February, Coach Maren Rojas stepped down as head coach of the women’s soccer program after accepting an assistant coaching position at Boston College. Coach Rojas led the Polar Bears for five years, accumulating a total record of 39-30-10 and helping five players earn First Team All-NESCAC distinctions.  

Returning defender Abby Einwag ’15 feels that the departure of Rojas has brought the team closer together.

“Her absence in the spring season and not having any coach in general has made our team much stronger,” began Einwag. “We all had to take on a greater responsibility and I believe we did so and became a better team overall.”

Weaver coached at St. Mary’s of Maryland for six consecutive seasons after graduating from the college in 2000. Over the course of her time there, Weaver led the Seahawks to three Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament finals. In 2008, Weaver steered her team to the school’s first-ever CAC championship crown, and was also named the National Soccer Coaches of America Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. 

Coach Weaver has high hopes for the season, and has been very impressed with the drive and determination of the team.

“I’ve been especially impressed by the captains on the team. They’ve done a great job so far at being team leaders,” said Coach Weaver. “They had a really tough challenge at the beginning of the year and had to help the team adjust to not having a coach over the summer,” she said.  

To bounce back from last season’s five overtime losses, the Polar Bears have been working on maintaining composure for their finishes. Although the team graduated two key players last year, six starters return to the field this season. 

Following up an impressive first year at Bowdoin, sophomore Amanda Kinneston hopes to replace Ellery Gould as the team’s leading scorer. Mirroring Kinneston’s efforts to reach that top-scoring position are captains Molly Popolizio ’14, Toni DeCampo ’13, and Casey Blossom ’13, who each scored three goals for the Polar Bears in the 2011 season. 

Equally important for this coming year is the team’s defensive strategy. Last season, the team faced many disappointing losses due to single goals in overtime. This coming year, it will be especially important for the defense to step up and keep the opposing attacks quiet in order to avoid the tense overtimes that riddled last year’s season. 

In a scrimmage held this past Sunday, the Polar Bears bested Tufts, whom they lost to 3-1 last season. According to Coach Weaver, the game was a preview to the type of season she thinks the team will have. 

“That game was our first opportunity to see the team in action, and the girls only had one day to learn the formations and plays.” she said. 

“The team mentality this year shows that the girls are very strong and resilient; they’ve shown that they’re willing to work no matter what,” Weaver emphasized.

On Thursday, the Polar Bears played the University of Southern Maine, scoring four goals in the second half to secure the win. The first two goals of the night were scored by first years Jamie Hofstetter and Kiersten Turner, while  the last two goals were unassisted efforts from Kinneston and Blossom. 

Bowdoin’s defense played stoutly, limiting their opponents to one shot in the entire game. After seven missed shots in the first half, the Polar Bears were more efficient in the second, and came home with their first convincing win of the season.