Double OT win sends women's hockey to semifinals
After beating No. 3 Hamilton (14-8-3, 9-5-2 NESCAC) 1-0 in double overtime last weekend, the sixth-seeded women’s ice hockey team will advance to the NESCAC semifinals and face No. 1 Middlebury (17-6-2, 11-4-1 NESCAC) on Saturday.
During the regular season, Bowdoin split its series against Middlebury, falling 2-1 in the first match but coming back with a 2-1 overtime win the following day to beat the Panthers for the first time since 2013.
“For all of us on the team—the senior class especially—we had never beaten Midd before this year in regular season,” captain Kimmy Ganong ’17 said. “So just to beat them in an overtime win and know that it’s possible and know that coming off of our win against Hamilton—controlling the game and being so aggressive and offensive-minded—we just have to do the same thing.”
According to Head Coach Marissa O’Neil, Middlebury’s biggest strength lies in its offense. Middlebury has scored 68 goals this season, the most of the league and 22 more than Bowdoin.
“They have a number of really talented players who are going to be a threat anytime they’re on the ice,” O’Neil said. “If they’re on, they can make people miss and they can put the puck in. They’ve always been a really strong team offensively so we have to be able to neutralize that. We’ve done that to other teams, and we did that when they were up here.”
To counter Middlebury’s dominant attack, the Polar Bears will look to their goalie, Kerri St. Denis ’19. St. Denis was named NESCAC Player of the Week after stopping all 41 shots from Hamilton on Saturday, a personal record for her.
“We’re definitely the team with the best goalie as of now—that’s not going to change,” Ganong said. “[St. Denis] has been playing unbelievably well and has been really holding us in these games. That’s great, that’s what you want being in playoffs. Having a really strong goaltender is huge.”
The intensity of the Hamilton game—which went into double overtime and lasted 94 minutes (the longest game in program history)—helped calm the team down heading into the game against Middlebury, according to Ganong.
“I think [the Hamilton game] kind of settled us down in a way,’” she said. “We can be like, ‘O.K., we got over the hump. We got over a really hard game. It’s going to be hard here on out, but there’s nothing that we can’t do.’ I think that’s important to know.”
For St. Denis, the pressure that she felt in goal was amplified by the length of the game.
“I never really pay attention to how many shots I have during the game because it’s all about staying focused and getting ready for the next shot that’s coming at me,” she said. “But I think because the game was so long, it felt like every shot could be the game-changer. It could be the end of overtime.”
Ganong agreed with St. Denis and thought that the Hamilton game was extremely emotional for the team.
“I kind of had a little panic attack before overtime. It was just being a senior and having it be such an emotional game, such an emotional time of year with playoffs and everything,” she said. “We knew that we were going to be the ones to come away with the win, it was just a matter of doing it. Going into overtime, all the emotions get heightened.”
According to O’Neil, one of the main reasons the Polar Bears pulled off the win was their intensity.
“We were aggressive all over the ice,” O’Neil said. “We weren’t giving them time and space to really make plays. By taking that away, they were throwing the puck around and we were getting the puck on our stick in their defensive zone and we were able to have some scoring chances.”
As Bowdoin continues in playoffs, O’Neil believes that the team needs to continue to play as well as possible and remember that nothing is guaranteed.
“It’s do or die—lose and go home,” she said. “They’re not guaranteed games. Not every team gets to be here. Same thing last weekend and fewer teams this weekend. It’s an honor and privilege, especially with how close the conference has been this year.”
The Polar Bears will travel to Middlebury and face the Panthers at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Women's hockey looks to recover in playoffs
After tying one game and losing the other to Trinity (9-12-3, 8-6-2 NESCAC) this past weekend, the women’s ice hockey team (12-8-4, 7-6-3 NESCAC) finished sixth in the league and will be traveling to No. 3 Hamilton (14-7-3, 9-5-2 NESCAC) this weekend for NESCAC conference quarterfinals.
While the rankings favor the Continentals in the matchup, the Polar Bears are confident about their prospects.
“We know that we’re better and we can beat them,” said captain Jess Bowen ’17. “We want this weekend to go out there and play our best and show them we’re the better team.”
When the two teams last faced each other, they split the series as Bowdoin took a 2-1 win in the first game and Hamilton pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory in the second.
Bowdoin’s play this past weekend featured a number of the team’s strengths, including its unique on-ice strategy.
“We play a system that’s just a little different than a lot of teams play,” Bowen said. “We play with three defensemen and two forwards so I think just that system is a little bit different and allows us to kind of catch teams off guard and gives us more opportunities offensively and makes our defense even stronger.”
The team is coming off a disappointing series against Trinity, in which Bowdoin dropped from 4th to 6th and gave up home-ice advantage after the tie and loss.
“I think that it was definitely a disappointment and a struggle just because we know we could have done a lot better than we did,” captain Kimmy Ganong ’17 said. “I think we were just really hyper and frantic, which was unfortunate. We play 100 percent better if we stay composed and calm and collected.”
An unusual lack of composure affected areas of play that are usually the team’s strengths, making the team feel that it did not play to its full potential over the course of the series.
“We just weren’t there mentally,” said Bowen. “I think we were making a lot of mistakes, we weren’t as a team winning all the one-on-one battles which we would normally win, and we’re a team that takes pride in our one-on-one battles. As a team we were just a little bit off, which happens, but we’re not going to do that this weekend.”
The team is confident going into the Hamilton game, and Ganong believes that it has the skill to beat the Continentals.
“I’m really excited to go to Hamilton,” said Ganong. “We’ve been there before and we know that we can absolutely beat them. We beat them on Friday night when we played there and we should have beat them on Saturday when we went into overtime.”
A key difference in playoffs will be that the teams play one game as opposed to a series, which Bowen sees as an advantage based on the team’s performance this season.
“[When] we played [Connecticut College], we didn’t play them back-to-back,” said Bowen. “Those were the only two league games we didn’t play back-to-back and we beat them both times so I just think to mentally only have to prepare for one game and know that you’re giving your all to that one game makes our team come out even stronger.”
However, the postseason adds additional pressure because the team only gets one chance to win.
“I think we have to know that it’s such an important game and that everyone else in the conference is at 0-0,” Ganong said. “No one has any wins or losses—it’s a clean slate. It’s just about believing that we can win and winning on Saturday to continue this season.”
Women's hockey seeks home-ice advantage
The Bowdoin women’s ice hockey team (12-7-3, 7-5-2 NESCAC) beat Connecticut College (13-7-2, 9-5-0 NESCAC) 2-1 in a close league matchup on Saturday, handing the Camels their 5th loss of the regular season and causing them to drop from first to third place in the league. The Polar Bears are preparing to face Trinity (8-12-2, 7-6-1 NESCAC) today and Saturday in its last two regular season games.
Although the team had already beaten Conn this season during the Frozen Fenway matchup in January, captain Madeline Hall ’17 said that against such a competitive opponent, the players had to put the win out of their minds and focus on the game at hand.
“We really wanted to separate our last win against them at Fenway and our game on Saturday,” she said. “We had to make sure that we knew that Conn would be a very different team than the one that we faced at Fenway. I don’t think we saw Conn’s best game there. They were very much out for revenge [this weekend].”
The two teams were tied at the end of the second period, but Bowdoin took advantage of a five-on-three power play to pull ahead of Conn and win the game in the final minutes.
“We gave ourselves the lead with three [minutes] to go and then did an incredible job of staying composed, keeping the puck down their end and trying to limit their opportunity to take our goalie out,” Head Coach Marissa O’Neil said. “We tried to have a really good style of play, patience and discipline. We struggled with that the previous weekend against Hamilton and a week later, I guess everyone figured it out.”
According to O’Neil, the main factor in the team’s success this season and ability to perform well in key matchups is the team culture.
“We’ve won, we’ve lost, we’ve tied, but we’ve done it as a team, and that’s all you can hope for,” she said. “If you have that foundation you can rely on no matter what, it’s easier to bounce back as a team than a group of individuals. In a game, period-to-period or weekend-to-weekend, they are able to be resilient because they know they have the support of their teammates.”
Looking ahead to Trinity, Hall believes that the team cannot afford to underestimate the Bantams because of their sixth-place standing.
“Trinity has been one of the teams that have been on the bottom of the pack this season,” she said. “They had a tough first semester playing Middlebury and Amherst back to back but they’ve definitely come back up the rankings as the weeks go on. So we definitely can’t take them lightly, but at the same time, we know we can beat them twice if we’re playing our game.”
Last week, Trinity’s goalie Sydney Belinskas ’18 was named NESCAC co-player of the week. However, O’Neil believes that the team can take measures against her in order to win.
“One, being deceptive in your shot taking, put pucks on nets and get rebounds,” she said. “You may not score on the first shots, but the second and third chance opportunities are the ones we need to capitalize on. Two, puck possession in their zone. If you don’t have the puck in their zone, then it is tough to score goals.”
Although Bowdoin has clinched a NESCAC quarterfinal berth, the games against Trinity will determine its final standing.
“Right now, we’re sitting tied in fourth, but we could end up as high as 2nd and as low as 7th,” O’Neil said. “You can’t go out there afraid to fail. We’re not worried about how low we could drop, but instead we’re thinking ‘Alright, we’re in fourth right now, but we could go to second.’”
If the team maintains or improves upon its fourth-place ranking this weekend, its quarterfinal game will be at home.
“Our players already know, just given the parity in the league, how tight it is. It’s not just going to come down to the last weekend, but the last game to determine [whether we play at Watson],” O’Neil said. “We can win games on the road, we can lose games at home, but it would be nice to earn the right to host a game.”
Hall agrees that the prospects of hosting add pressure to the team’s last two games. However, the players are using the higher stakes as a source of motivation.
“We want to win every weekend obviously, but this just has more on the line,” she said. “Having one more home game, especially for the seniors, would be amazing so that definitely just adds more emotion to it.”
The women’s hockey team will travel to Trinity for its final series today at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Women's hockey takes on Hamilton
After a four-game losing streak, the women’s hockey team (10-6-3, 5-4-2 NESCAC) recovered with two wins and a 0-0 tie over the past two weekends. This recent run of strong performances sets the team up well as it faces Hamilton (11-5-2, 6-3-1 NESCAC), which currently leads the league, this weekend.
One of the wins was in overtime against Middlebury on January 21, which Bowdoin had not beaten since 2013.
“It was the best feeling ever, especially an OT win and the way the goal was scored,” captain Jess Bowen ’17 said. It couldn’t have been better. We were up right at about a minute left in third period and to get scored on was really hard. And then we only had five minutes in overtime, but when it happened, it was an incredible feeling.”
The win against Middlebury gave the team the confidence it needed to play well against Wesleyan the following Friday, according to captain Madeline Hall ’17.
“I think we had a really, really strong game on Friday. We played 50-60 minutes of good hockey and we didn’t overthink things,” she said. “All six of us on the ice worked together as one unit really well, so we were moving the puck and winning all of the 50/50 battles, which is big.”
Strong goalkeeping by Kerri St. Denis ’19 has been another reason for the team’s success. In the second match against Wesleyan, St. Denis made 31 saves en route to her sixth shutout of the season.
“In a way, a goalie can be like the quarterback of the team, sort of the backbone,” Bowen said. “When [St. Denis] makes some great saves, you feel the need to step up your game, protect her and to put goals in the net because she’s preventing them from going in. So it’s been a really good situation.”
Hamilton’s goalkeeping is also extremely strong. The Continentals’ goalie, Sam Walther ’18, has matched St. Denis’ .95 save percentage this season and will pose a large obstacle in this weekend’s games.
“Their goalie is what has been keeping them in the games and winning games so I think crashing the net, being aggressive in front of the net, getting shots in and creating quick and good scoring opportunities is going to be really important,” said Hall. “And making sure she messes up her confidence and loses her confidence right off the bat so that she can’t gain it back throughout the period.”
Going into the Hamilton series, Bowen believes that the greatest challenge is going to be playing a full two games and carrying momentum throughout the weekend.
“If you play teams twice and play two really good teams, usually one game is better than the other and that’s just the nature of our schedule when playing teams twice in a row,” she said. “But Hamilton has been doing really well lately so we know it’s going to be one of the harder games thus far. It’s pretty important.”
Hall thinks that the players needs to focus on themselves and their strengths in order to play their best because all of the teams are so close in skill level.
“Hamilton is coming off of a really strong weekend. They beat Middlebury twice, so they’re going to be feeling confident,” she said. “But we just need to not take that into consideration at all. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or when we’re playing, but instead we just need to focus on ourselves. We’re trying to just play hard because whoever shows up to play that day is going to be the team that wins.”
The team will play its first game against the Continentals tonight at 7 p.m. at Hamilton.
Women's hockey dominates at Frozen Fenway
On January 12, the women’s ice hockey team left the comfort of Watson Arena for the prestige of Fenway Park, where they played in the first-ever match between two NESCAC women’s teams at Frozen Fenway, a series of outdoor hockey games at the park.
The Polar Bears decisively beat conference-leader Connecticut College (11-4-2, 7-3-0 NESCAC) in a 3-0 shutout despite challenging ice conditions, securing Head Coach Marissa O’Neil’s 100th career win.
Participating in Frozen Fenway was historic for not only Bowdoin’s program, but the NESCAC as well. As a result, the biggest challenge going into the game was the team’s mindset, according to captain Kimmy Ganong ’17. To help prepare, the team worked with Dr. Tiff Jones, a sport and psychology consultant hired by Bowdoin this year.
“We met with [Jones] a few times leading up to Fenway just to get the mindset of what it’s going to be like playing at Fenway and playing in such a big arena,” Ganong said. “So she did a lot of work with us on that and helped us be on the ice and not get caught up in the ice or not get distracted by fans.”
O’Neil agrees that the team’s mental preparation was extremely important leading up to the game, but she didn’t want to take away from the players’ excitement for the event.
“It’s a huge game, it’s a conference game, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” O’Neil said. “We weren’t trying to dampen the mood by just saying ‘You need to focus on this.’ You need to have perspective on it. It’s an incredible opportunity, so we wanted [the team] to enjoy that excitement and enjoy being with one another.”
The most visible challenge the team faced was playing outside. On the day of the match, it was warm and rainy, which led to an inch and a half of water on the ice, quite similar to current campus conditions.
“It was like playing on a pond, but the pond wasn’t frozen,” said Ganong. “You can find pictures online that show our goalie standing at the net and there are just rings of water [on the ice]. It was definitely something we had to adjust to because our ice here is always frozen.”
According to O’Neil, the ice conditions actually helped the team relax before and during the game.
“They play better when they can be playful and not overthink too much so [the ice quality] sort of helped in their mental preparation,” she said. “I think the absurdity of trying to pass in puddles helped calm their nerves.”
Ganong believes that the main reason that the Polar Bears won the game was due to their ability to adapt to the conditions.
“The game was a lot slower and the ice was wet,” she said. “You had to almost lift all your passes so that they wouldn’t get stuck in the water. The ice was bumpy, but we all did it. We all adjusted and I think that is a big reason we won.”
The turning point in the game, according to O’Neil, was the team’s first goal.
“[Connecticut College] had us on our heels at times and there were a lot of momentum shifts,” O’Neil said. “But we scored on a low-angle shot that really seemed to be a turning point for our team.”
“We had great goal-tending by Kerri St. Denis [’19] up to that point, but in terms of momentum, the table just kind of turned when we scored that first goal. Then our kids led just a relentless pursuit the rest of the way,” she said.
While O’Neil’s 100th career win is a notable accomplishment, it didn’t overshadow the team’s success, according to O’Neil.
“I never focused on that and same with our players with their individual achievements,” she said. “It’s all about our team and always will be. But it was pretty incredible that it just happened to be on that night.”
Although the excitement surrounding the game is over, Ganong believes that this will still be a landmark event in the women’s hockey program.
“I do think it gives more notice to Bowdoin and for the future players that may come here, just hearing that we played at Fenway and we won, I think it’s really, really special for the program and for Bowdoin athletics as well,” she said. “To have a women’s team play there and to have teams from campus come down in support of us and have alums from years past come—all in all, it was just great for the College.”
The team will travel to Wesleyan this weekend for a pair of NESCAC games on Friday and Saturday.
Editor's Note, Friday, January 27, 4:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Dr. Tiff Jones was hired by the College as a sports psychiatrist. The article has been updated to clarify that she is a sport and psychology consultant.
Women's ice hockey works to preserve unbeaten record
After tying with Saint Anselm (8-1-2) on Saturday and defeating University of Southern Maine (3-6) on Tuesday to stay unbeaten with a record of 3-0-2, the women’s ice hockey team is preparing to play the University of New England and Norwich—which is ranked 6th by the D3hockey.com poll—this weekend.
Head Coach Marissa O’Neil believes the challenge Norwich presents will push the team to come out and play well despite pressure from upcoming final exams.
“I think Norwich is a team that brings out your best hockey,” O’Neil said. “Since the start of their program, they’ve been a top team in the country and so I think that sort of trumps everything else. I think our kids will get up to play them.”
Captain Kimmy Ganong ’17 believes that the team’s previous performances are evidence that Bowdoin has a chance of doing well against Norwich.
“I think [that] our past few games this year, like beating Holy Cross and tying with Saint A’s, [have shown that] we’re a good team and we know we can hold our own against these really good out of conference teams,” Ganong said. “So I think just we need to keep that in mind and go into the game knowing that it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be hard.”
Captain Madeline Hall ’17 agreed with Ganong that the team does have the potential to do well in Saturday’s game if the team focuses on playing its own game.
“I think that if we just focus on not focusing on who we’re playing, but rather focus on us as a team, I think we’ll definitely give them a run for their money,” Hall said. “We definitely can win. I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of whether we can win or not, but whether or not we can kind of put the pieces together and show up and actually play the game we know we can play.”
In order to win, Hall believes that the team needs to play a full game and keep up its intensity, no matter the score. In both of its ties, the team was up 2-0 before losing its lead.
“That’s definitely an important piece—not changing our mentality or how we’re playing at all based on the score,” she said. “Always play like it’s 0-0 and definitely playing the whole 60 minutes. [We have to be] focusing on each period at a time, but not wasting the first 20 minutes to get our legs going. Making sure that when minute one starts in the first period, we’re actually going all out right there.”
Though O’Neil is not disappointed by the team’s performance thus far, she said it will continue to work on playing in different situations throughout the season.
“We’re not looking to peak in the early season so we’re building our story right now and it’s good to learn this lesson early,” O’Neil said. “If we can learn it when we’re tying, we’re happy with that. We learn from your losses and you want to learn from your losses, but we’re okay with not having any right now.”
Looking forward, the team will play at Fenway Park on January 12 against Connecticut College as a part of Frozen Fenway, a series of outdoor hockey games and skating events at the park.
“The spectacle of it people have thought about—it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” O’Neil said. “I know a lot of people at school are excited about it and I think it’s a really cool event that I hope will bring out a lot of Bowdoin alums and a lot of family and friends in the New England area. It’s pretty special.”
With the amazing opportunity comes added pressure, and Hall believes the team needs to stay focused on the fact that it is a NESCAC game and not get too carried away by the experience.
“Given that it is a conference game against Conn, that definitely has an impact on our seating and standing within the NESCAC, it’s an important game” she said. “It’s going to be really important to focus ourselves and not get too hyped so that it distracts us from actually playing well.”
Bowdoin and Colby face off in 207th game of storied rivalry
The men’s hockey team (3-2, 1-1 NESCAC) hopes to be at its best this weekend when it plays in the 207th and 208th matches of its famed rivalry against Colby (3-1, 2-0 NESCAC) in two key league games this weekend.
“It’s a little different for us this year because we’re kind of chasing them in the standings, where normally it’s the other way around,” captain Brendan Conroy ’17 said. “But it’s still the third NESCAC game of the [year], so I think just setting the pace for the rest of the season.”
Though Colby is ahead in the standings, captain Mitch Barrington ’17 believes that the team has the ability to beat the Mules.
“Colby is in first place right now, so we’re trying to knock them off and get two wins which will be tough but I think it’s something that we expect to do,” he said. “It won’t come easily but I think we can definitely achieve it if we play two good games.”
According to new Head Coach Jamie Dumont, the key to winning this weekend will be playing a full game of “Bowdoin hockey.”
“These games are always fun from a fan’s perspective,” Dumont said. “From a coach’s perspective, it’s an emotional roller coaster. The big thing for us is that we just want to make sure we’re playing our game and focusing on what we’re doing well.”
The main challenge for the team is to focus on the game instead of the crowd, according to captain Matt Sullivan ’17.
“It’s always a packed house which is a lot of fun, but it can throw you off your game a little bit if you’re not careful,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s something to keep in consideration: going into the weekend and knowing that [we’re playing] two NESCAC games just like every other weekend. We fully expect to be competitive and win those games.”
A key factor in the team’s success so far this season has been its depth, which was especially evident in its 8-3 win against Becker College on Tuesday.
“Our secondary scoring has been very good,” said Dumont. “What I mean by that is that we’re not just relying on one or two guys. We have everybody chipping in and we’re getting a lot of help from all forward lines and six [defensemen] and all four goalies.”
Though several key players have been out of the lineup due to suspensions, Barrington believes that the team has been playing well so far this season.
“We’ve done well especially considering some of the circumstances we’ve been under,” Barrington said. “We’ve had guys suspended for a few games and each game there have been some key guys out of the lineup. With that in mind, we’ve performed pretty well. We’ve played some good teams and gotten more wins than losses so I think we’re on the right track and have had a pretty successful start.”
Despite the challenges that come with the absence of key players, openings in the lineup have given underclassmen a chance to play and contribute to the team’s success.
“Every guy has gotten an opportunity to play which is pretty great. A lot of guys have been able to show their worth and the guys have really bonded together with certain key guys out of the lineup,” Barrington said. “It’s definitely probably brought about more cohesion and team chemistry and just makes winning feel a bit better considering everything that has happened and stuff like that.”
The added playing time is also essential to the development of first years, according to Dumont.
“They’ve been thrown into a very important role right off the get go, which is good because they can get their feet wet pretty quickly,” Dumont said. “They’ve stepped up unbelievably and responded, with some growing pains, but all in all, their coachability, their work ethic and their attention to detail has been outstanding.”
In his first year as head coach, Dumont has focused on the larger legacy of the program rather than implementing major changes.
“This program has been successful for 100 years. Our big thing as coaches that we really want to make sure the guys know is that anytime you put on a jersey, you’re putting it on for people that have played before you and represented this program,” Dumont said. “Make sure you bring it, bring it with class and play hard for your teammates.”
The faceoff will be at 7 p.m. tonight at Watson Arena. All student tickets have been distributed for the game, but a limited number of returned tickets will be available at the door at 6 p.m. tonight.
Shibles creates her own legacy while honoring former coach
When women’s basketball coach Adrienne Shibles started coaching, she drew inspiration from her former coach at Bates, Marsha Graef, who passed away last fall at age 61. Years later, Shibles has gone on to inspire many of her own players to take up coaching, forming a coaching tree of her own.
After holding a ceremony to dedicate Bates’ new women’s locker room to Graef, Alison Montgomery ’05—current Bates head coach and Shibles’ former assistant coach at Bowdoin—and Shibles announced that the season-opening Maine Tip-Off Tournament will be renamed after Graef as well.
“Since [Graef] passed last winter, it’s been a real opportunity for the people in the Bates community to honor everything she gave to our community when she was here and also when she passed,” Montgomery said. “And Adrienne said that we had that celebration in October, but she wanted to continue that celebration and honor her again with this tournament.”
Shibles not only appreciates Graef for everything she did for the Bates basketball program, but also for inspiring her to go into the profession at a time when Shibles did not even think it was a career that was open to her.
“I realized that she was leading in a way that I wanted to. Once I saw she could do it, all of a sudden doors were open to me,” Shibles said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ If I did not have her as a coach, I wouldn’t have followed in that path. I wouldn’t have even considered it as a possibility because I had only seen men in that role up to that point.”
Today, Shibles still strives to emulate Graef’s caring attitude toward the individual players.
“Our coaching styles are very different but at the core of her coaching style, there’s the same foundation of caring about the person and really empowering women to be leaders,” Shibles said. “I know she was passionate about the same things I was passionate about.”
According to Montgomery, this passion for players is characteristic of Shibles’ coaching style.
“[Shibles] loves basketball and loves to coach basketball, but she is so invested in the people she is working with,” Montgomery said. “I think she sees this as an opportunity to educate young women, of course about basketball, but having a perspective that there is actually a much bigger picture and her relationship with these young women is really what matters.”
As a coach, Shibles has broken records both at Bowdoin and at her previous school, Swarthmore. According to Shibles, the main reason for the success of her former players and the program itself is the type of player the Bowdoin women’s basketball program attracts.
“I think we search for people who embrace being pushed to be their best self as a leader, and we, with our program, have a shared leading model,” Shibles said. “So we stress that you’re going to have a voice right away as a first year—you’re going to have ownership of the program and you’re going to be pushed to really serve as a leader within this program and you’ll also be encouraged to do so on campus.”
Shannon Brady ’16, who now is an assistant coach at Colby, argues that part of the reason that Shibles is so successful as a coach is the trust that she builds with her players.
“I would go into battle with Coach Shibles any day because I know that she has my back and I have hers,” Brady said. “So it’s that mutual trust that she really instills that makes me want to make her proud so I think it’s a combination of being nurturing and demanding at the same time that has lead to a lot of her success, and I think winning is just a byproduct of that.”
Not only is Shibles inspiring on the court and in the locker room, but also in encouraging players to go into coaching, according to Jill Pace ’12, the women’s basketball head coach at Pomona-Pitzer.
“The way she influenced me as a player and a student-athlete at Bowdoin kind of made me want to give back to the coaching world and also the student-athletes that are now me at Pomona-Pitzer,” Pace said. “I always saw the way she impacted me and my teammates and so after graduation, I was like, why not do this same thing that can impact student athletes’ lives in such a positive way.”
According to Brady, Shibles also was extremely helpful during her job search.
“As soon as I let her know that I was interested in graduate positions and coaching positions, she immediately started looking around, contacting coach friends and looking at different opportunities for me,” Brady said. “So she was helpful right off the bat with that.”
According to Pace, Shibles’ impact is not limited to Bowdoin due to the number of players that have continued in her footsteps.
“I think Coach Shibles can look out and see that there’s a little piece of her, like now there’s a little piece of her out in Southern California, hundreds of miles away from the Northeast,” Pace said. “She’s always influencing people in all the little places where we are."
Training staff adapts to increased workload during seasonal overlap
In preparation for games and practices, Bowdoin’s athletic training room is a regular stop for many student-athletes throughout their seasons. The training room becomes even busier than usual on November 1, as fall and winter sports seasons overlap. The spike in usage puts more strain on the training staff since the department is staffed with just the right number of trainers needed for in-season sports teams.
The increased workload during this period limits amount of time off each trainer receives.
“We have practices seven days a week now because hockey is practicing on Sunday and I have to give my staff a day off,” said Director of Athletic Training Dan Davies. “It’s tough to work seven days a week without a day off so I have to try to find a time where I can give them a day off while we also still have to cover the sports that are needed.”
According to Davies, the training staff balance the increase in athletics by having winter athletes work with the strength and conditioning staff.
“[Winter sports] do still practice,” he said. “The winter sports practice by themselves. [They] do work outs with the strength conditioning staff, and do speed training, so they’re still doing athletic events during those times. Even if it’s not overlap, we’re still trying to deal with those injuries at those times.”
Men’s ice hockey player Joe Lace ’17 recognizes the hard work that goes into helping so many teams as one season ends and another begins.
“Hockey season normally overlaps with a couple other sports and I know that the trainers have to work very hard to keep up with us along with the other teams,” he said. “We’re really appreciative.”
Men’s swimming and diving captain Tim Long ’17 agreed.
“I think they do a really good job of delegating throughout and they always seem to be available for us and for the fall sports, too,” Long said. “They know that the beginning of the winter season is a very critical time for some athletes, just like the beginning of any athletic season.”
The training center strives to consistently communicate with athletes to ensure meeting their needs efficiently.
“My experience with the training department has been nothing but great,” Lace said. “It’s mostly been limited to getting ice and hot baths, but all the trainers are very helpful. They send out an email every morning asking if we need any training help to which people can reply yes or no.”
Besides helping specific athletes, the training department also provides concussion screenings, blood pressure tests and other basic medical clearance. Each trainer is paired with a team that they communicate with and assist.
“We come in around nine for treatments, meetings, what have you, talk with [our coaches] about what’s happened in the last few days or yesterday’s practice. Then rehab, then setting up for practice,” Davies said. “We bring all our supplies out there and taping for practice, first aid for practice, stretching, massage, anything of that type of nature to be able to get the athletes ready to practice.”
The department employs work-study students from Bowdoin to help with the basic tasks and needs of the training room, as well as student interns from the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England who work with the larger, collision-based sports teams, which consistently need more assistance.
“I would not be able to do football without them,” Davies said. “They’re with football and rugby. It’s tough to take a team like football on by yourself, it’s just not possible. So I need that help because I’m the only certified athletic trainer with football.”
The department also works to give athletes the tools to stay healthy for the future. Last season, Long went to the training center with tendonitis in his shoulder. According to him, the trainers helped him identify what was wrong and allowed him to be better equipped to deal with his injury.
“I could just check in with [the trainers] and they were watching me and making sure I was doing everything right,” Long said. “It not only made me better and helped me fix my shoulder tendonitis, it also gave me the tools so that I could prevent it from becoming a problem again in the future on my own.”
Women's rugby dominates in two-game shutout streak
Even with its new, more difficult schedule, the women’s rugby team (4-1) has earned several commanding victories this season. Coming off of a hard-fought loss to the University of New England (4-2), the team rebounded by beating Castleton (0-8) 85-0 and Sacred Heart (2-4) 99-0 over the last two weekends.
Against Castleton, Paige Pfannenstiel ’17 scored seven tries to set a Bowdoin record for number of tries scored in a single match by an individual player.
“[Pfannenstiel] has stood out all season,” captain Samantha Hoegle ’17 said. “She’s a very good team player; she’s also a very good individual player, and she’s done a great job balancing those two. So she herself has scored a lot of tries, but she has also created opportunities for a lot of other people, which has been really nice.”
According to Hoegle, Georgia Bolduc ’17 and Juliette Dankens ’18 have also stood out this season, especially as they’ve had to change positions due to team injuries. Bolduc moved from nine to fullback and Dankens from wing to nine. The shift required both players to adapt quickly as the positions are quite different; fullback is the the last line of defense and nine distributes the ball out of the ruck. However, the veterans rose to the challenge and found strengths in their new roles.
“Fullback really lets [Bolduc’s] speed shine on offense and it’s really helpful for our team on defense,” Hoegle said. “[Dankens] is doing a really good job passing from nine, which has been nice, and we also have a ton of wings on our team right now, so it’s been good because then there’s more space to play more of them.”
Although individual performances are important, according to captain Cristina Lima ’17, a key factor in the team’s success is the way that returning and new players interact and play off each other.
“The returning players are doing a good job of incorporating newer, more developing players,” Lima said. “Likewise, developing players are really stepping up and doing what they need to do to make the team better, so I’ve really been impressed with everyone across the board.”
In order to keep improving, Head Coach MaryBeth Mathews believes that the team needs to make sure it is supportive of all players and their mistakes, especially considering the youth of the team.
“Everyone has something to bring to benefit the team. Everyone is valued to begin with and everyone acknowledges that they’re learning a brand new sport or maybe they’ve played one or two years and they’re still new to rugby,” Mathews said. “But I think the biggest element that contributes to their learning is the encouragement to make mistakes.”
Mathews also believes that the team has to have the confidence to make decisions while playing, even if they are not the right ones.
“They’re new to the sport, so they’re not always going to make the right decisions, but we encourage them to make a decision,” Mathews said. “Whatever you decide to do, go ahead and do it full force and then learn from it if it happens to not be the right one. They will get better if they allow themselves to take that risk instead of playing safe and maybe not doing anything.”
Even though the team has scored a high number of points, the change of schedule this season has still resulted in more challenging competition, and the team is optimistic about the growth and development that will continue to come from facing new opponents.
“This season has been challenging. We’ve still been scoring a lot, but in the past couple years, we’ve really dominated our normal, in-season division,” Pfannenstiel said. “But the teams are so hard once we get to post-season that we can’t really play against them. We just don’t have enough experience at that level to do that, but now we’re getting that experience.”
Up next, the Polar Bears will face off against University of Maine-Orono on Saturday at 12 p.m. The team expects the game to be a welcome challenge in their pursuit for tougher competition.
“Traditionally, UMaine is a very physical team, so I’m expecting that we’ll need to step it up,” Lima said. “The past couple games we had the ball the majority of the time and I think UMaine will be a much more even match. I’m expecting to have to tackle a lot more and ruck a lot more, but it will be a good learning experience, for a lot of new players especially. But I don’t think anyone is afraid; we’re ready to go.”
Narrow loss keeps football winless
The football team lost to Hamilton (1-3) on Saturday in their closest game of the season with a final score of 25-26. This is the first season in ten years that the program has started a season 0-4.According to Coach JB Wells, the close score reflected the capabilities of both teams.
“I thought the game on Saturday was a very even game,” JB Wells said. “When you balance everything up—key points of the game, big plays on both sides—everything became exactly what the score indicated, which was a 25-26 game.”
Captain Timothy Drakeley ’17 believes that the game against Hamilton provided hope for the team’s future, but also highlighted some areas in which the team needs to improve.
“There were a couple mental errors that definitely cost us that lead [that] we have to get rid of but I think that will come as the season progresses,” Drakeley said. “The defense played really well; the offense has to move the ball a little more and be a little more efficient, especially on first downs, but I think we saw a lot of positive things and a lot of steps in the right direction.”
According to captain Nadim Elhage ’16, one of Bowdoin’s biggest assets is their physicality.
“One thing I think we’ve done well although we haven’t won is physically the other team feels the effect of playing the Bowdoin football team,” Elhage said. “I would say we’re one of the more physical teams in the league. We are one of the more aggressive teams in terms of hitting.”
Captain Reeder Wells ’17 said that in order to win, the team needs to improve its consistency.
“Instead of playing perfectly 80 percent of the plays of the game, I think we need to be ready just about every single play,” Reeder Wells said. “So I think that’s been our biggest thing: no mental lapses, just being obviously more consistent and not having 2 or 3 plays throughout the game where we have big mistakes.”
The team is currently playing more first years than other teams in the league. According to JB Wells, as the first year students gain more experience, consistency will follow.
“Our play is kind of reflective of our age,” Coach Wells said. “Consistency is tough to get without experience. The one thing that you just can’t coach is experience ... We’re getting there, but you can’t microwave it. It has to happen.”
Reeder Wells believes that the players have also been working on improving team culture since last season.
“That was one of our big things at the beginning of the year—really kind of trying to reinvent that,” he said. “It was something we started a little bit last year, but definitely this year a lot of the team has come together.”
JB Wells agrees that the team dynamic has changed this season and credits much of the improvement to the senior leadership.
“Where we’ve really become a much better football program this year is the development of the team culture,” he said. “And that has everything to do with Reeder [Wells] and the upperclassmen really holding this team more accountable and to higher standards than they’ve been held to before.”
Looking ahead to the Trinity game on Saturday, Elhage believes that the offense and defense both need to work hard in order to play their best against the 4-0 team.
“Primarily, [Trinity is] a run heavy team and they have a massive offensive line with a great running back and I think part of that is complimented with the offense being successful at moving the ball,” Elhage said. “Having extended drives allows the defense to get more rest than we have been getting which allows both the offense and the defense to play better.”
Despite its performance so far, Reeder Wells thinks that the team has a chance of surprising people with the outcome against Trinity.
“I think we’re a team that they might very well overlook,” he said. “They’re ripe to be beaten so I think we’re absolutely going to use that to our advantage and see where we can kind of catch them on their heels and at the very least give them a scare. Our hope is to obviously come up with a pretty big upset. So we’re going to be working with that in mind and we’re working this whole week with that goal.”
Women's soccer extends win streak to five, rises in NESCAC rankings
After losing to Amherst in their second game of the season, the women’s soccer team has come back with a five-game winning streak, most recently beating the University of New England 1-0 at home on Tuesday.
A key victory against Middlebury last Saturday helped Bowdoin improve to No. 2 in the NESCAC, tied with Connecticut College and just behind defending NESCAC Champion Williams.
The game against UNE began with a quick goal by Morgen Gallagher ’20 shortly after the minute mark. Despite this early lead, Anna Mellman ’17 does not believe the team played to the best of their ability.
“We were able to hold them off for the rest of the game, but we couldn’t put another one in the net,” Mellman said. “[It] was definitely not our best performance but we’re learning from it and we’re ready to come out strong on Friday.”
As the team looks ahead, goalkeeper Rachel Stout ’18 believes that the women need to make sure that they are always playing to their fullest potential.
“There’s been a couple games where at half time or beginning of the half we don’t come out 100 percent and then it takes a while to get into it,” Stout said. “Just being able to put together a full 90 minutes is what we need to be able to do.”
While the team continues to focus on improvement, their early success this season is undeniable. The key to the women’s strong start, according to Stout, is team cohesion both on and off the field.
“We usually have very solid team chemistry but from the start this year I think part of the reason that we’re doing so well is because off the field we can get along so well,” Stout said.
The large first year class and the loss of six seniors to graduation last spring could have posed a large obstacle to the team’s chemistry, yet the new players acclimated to the new environment quickly and have already made a positive impact on the team’s performance.
“[The first years’ success] comes from both sides,” Head Coach Brianne Weaver said. “I attribute it to both the upperclassmen for making them feel welcome and certainly to the first years who were in a new environment. They embraced it and they were willing to find out what this team was all about from the beginning and find ways to contribute to it.”
Mellman sees the young roster as a unique opportunity, rather than a challenge.
“They bring so much energy and fire to the team because of their love for the sport,” she said. The senior turnover included the loss of All-American goalkeeper Bridget McCarthy ’16, yet Stout, the current goalie, has had a strong start to the season with five shutouts and only three goals against her.
“It definitely was [hard to find confidence] because I had only played one full game and otherwise had just gotten in some minutes,” she said. “But I had done the training and put in all the work I could so, at that point, there was nothing else I could have done to prepare so I just had to see what happens.”
In order to stay strong, Weaver believes the team needs to take every game, even non-conference games such as the one against UNE, seriously.
“We look at every game whether it’s a conference game or non-conference game as an important game and one that we have to bring our very best to,” Weaver said. “If we have post-season aspirations, we know there is not a game that we can walk into and say ‘Oh okay guys, this is an easier game and we can take it off today.’”
Although the team isn’t content with its performance this week, Mellman said the strong start early on has made its goal of winning the NESCAC tournament and beating last year’s champion, Williams, seem realistic.
“I am so excited to play Williams,” Mellman said. “If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing and keep working as hard as we’ve been working I think we stand a very good chance of taking them down this year.”
The team will travel to Boston to face MIT in their next game on Friday, September 30.
New first years boost golf teams' expectations with strong opening tournaments
Both the men’s and women’s golf teams improved on last year’s performances at this weekend’s Bowdoin Invitational, with the men’s team coming in sixth out of twelve teams and the women’s team coming in first out of two teams.
Part of the reason for the women’s team’s success, according to captain Meredith Sullivan ’17, was the contributions of two new team members, Caroline Farber ’20 and Emme McCabe ’20.
“They are both incredible golfers,” Sullivan said. “Adjusting to college competition is obviously tough coming out of high school, but they are doing a great job with it, for sure.”
Two of the first years on the men’s team, Jackson Harrower ’20 and Tom Dunleavy ’20, are also having an immediate impact as two of the top four Bowdoin scorers this weekend.
“The two freshmen are strong competitors,” said captain Thomas Spagnola ’17. “They have tournament experience from when they were in high school and are really passionate about golf, which is the most important thing. I am really optimistic about their desire to improve and they really want to qualify for NESCAC [playoffs].”
After beating both Colby and Bates this weekend, captain Martin Bernard ’17 believes that Bowdoin has a chance to be one of the top four teams at the NESCAC Qualifier and playing in the championships in the spring.
“It’s hard to say [if we will qualify] based on how other teams will play,” he said. “But I think we have a better chance this year of qualifying than we have since I’ve been here.”
Men’s Head Coach Tomas Fortson urges the team to focus on the weekly tournaments right now.
“I can’t think that far [ahead to the NESCAC Qualifier]” he said. “It is not healthy for any of us to be putting a lot of extra pressure on that. If we continue to improve and people continue to figure out how to compete at their best, we should have a good chance.”
Sullivan is more doubtful of the women’s chances of qualifying for the spring championships.
“It’s very tough competition in the NESCAC,” she said. “Williams won NCAA two years ago and Amherst and Middlebury are very strong. I honestly am not sure. It all depends on how we can perform this year. Obviously last year we couldn’t really come close to those teams, but this year I think we can definitely gain some ground on them.”
Although they appear to be stronger than last season, the women’s team still has room to improve their technical skills, according to Sullivan.
“I would say our weaknesses are probably around short game so like chipping and putting,” she said. “That’s all technical stuff that comes with literally just playing more, so as the season goes on that will definitely be a lot better.”
According to Spagnola, the main weakness of the men’s team is their lack of depth.
“The top programs have depth, from number one to basically their whole team,” Spagnola said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. But this year, we have some depth. It’s really encouraging.”
As both teams look forward to the Maine State Tournament this weekend, their main goal is to keep improving.
“I don’t know if I’d put [my expectations] in terms of how I expect to finish in the tournament because it’s a similar field to what we just played in,” Bernard said. “More importantly it’s an opportunity to build on what was a reasonably good weekend, to build confidence and prepare further for the NESCAC.”
Fortson agrees that improvement is the most important goal for the team and believes that the team realizes this.
“These are absolutely excellent people, excellent kids who get it,” he said. “Get it in terms of what they’re here to do at Bowdoin...they understand our priorities within the program which is to commit to the process of getting better, of figuring out how to improve. They’re committed to that. They work hard and they are honest about it.”