Emma Beecher ’16 has tallied 16 goals and seven assists through seven games for the 6-1 Bowdoin women’s lacrosse team, leading them in each category. Beecher has continued to score at a consistent pace despite switching from midfield to attack and moving into the starting lineup. Though she has seen a lot of playing time as a rotation midfielder, Beecher has only started three games this season, and she will likely remain one of the four starting attackers for the rest of the season. 

Beecher had been a midfielder for her entire career, and the change was made to give her more playing time while keeping the dominant midfield line of Clare McLaughlin ’15 Taylor Wilson ’15, and Lindsay Picard ’16 on the field together longer.

“She deserves credit,” attacker Olivia Raisner ’15 said. “It could’ve produced chaos.”
Beecher has not had much time to learn the finer point of her new position in practice; the team played four games last week. McLaughlin expects that the full week of practice before Saturday’s home game against Trinity will help Beecher get acclimated. So far, she has played the attack position defensively, working further from the crease than attackers generally do.

“I always think of her as a midfielder,” said McLaughlin. “We haven’t had a lot of practices. We haven’t really talked about it. I don’t even really think she’s been taught the attack position.”

“It’s not my first thought, to play behind [the crease]” said Beecher. “But the other attackers are good at playing behind and around the crease so we play to each other’s strengths.”

Typically, attackers try to organize themselves so that two of them are behind the net and two are by the elbows. Beecher has made a habit of lingering up by the restraining line—a position known as “high attack.” The team has taken this in stride, and the seven offensive players have learned to organize themselves to take advantage of Beecher’s strengths: speed and a strong right-handed drive.

More traditional attacking threats Mettler Growney ’17, known by teammates for quick, precise cuts, and Meg O’Connor ’16, known for rolls toward the crease and her stick-handling, can occupy defenders down low, pulling them away from the ball.

“If she’s driving from the top of the eight meter, I’ll occupya defender,” said Growney. “I’ll move them away from where she likes to take the ball. We have to make the right cuts and the right reads.”

This creates lanes and shooting space for Beecher or other midfielders to drive.
“[A midfield] strength is driving from the top,” Taylor Wilson ’15 said. “She’s been a midfielder all of her time at Bowdoin. She has that tendency, and it’s also her strength as an attacker. It gives us another person who can drive from the top.”

Beecher beats goalies with an unusually low, precise shot and has the second highest conversion rate of shots to goals on the team; 50 percent of her shots have scored so far.
“She has a very distinctive shot,” Picard said. “She shoots at a very low angle, moving from the top or outside. The placement is key.”

“She’s a very strong girl,” said Growney. “She holds her ground and gets into the zone quickly. The goalie doesn’t have time to prepare.”

A change from previous years, the team runs very few set plays or schemes, using their comfort with each other and understanding of the game to create opportunities. Beecher’s success has come largely from this and the variety of scoring threats the Polar Bears have fielded this year. Six of the seven offensive starters have recorded double digit points already this season, with the seventh, Growney, trailing with nine. 

Furthermore, the team’s creative freelancing makes it difficult for teams to focus on any one part of their attack, especially since they have their own defenders pushing the pace after a stop. Bowdoin players pride themselves on their speed, and they use it to create mismatches.

“She scores a lot off of fast breaks, where there’s more space and fewer people,” O’ Connor said. “She’s not afraid to go to goal where other attackers might make the decision to bring down and slow it.”

In this way, increased opponent  focus on Beecher because she’s scored the most goals may open up driving lanes for Picard, who has scored only slightly fewer goals, or allow passing threats Wilson or Raisner to find the cutters or else score themselves. 

“Most of attackers have a number of goals and assists,” Raisner said, “Everyone out there is a threat.”

Given this, Beecher is likely to have a similar number of opportunities, even if she begins to work behind the net more. If not, herexperience in the midfield should help her distribute the ball.  

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.

To suggest an athlete, email Sports Editor Jono Gruber at jgruber@bowdoin.edu.