This past weekend, field hockey fell 2-0 to fourth-seed Middlebury (7-3, 13-3 NESCAC) in the NESCAC quarterfinals, making it the first time the Polar Bears have lost in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs since 2004. In the wake of last year’s undefeated regular season and NESCAC championship win, the early exit is surprising. 

The fifth-seeded Polar Bears end the season at 11-5 and are no longer practicing. While an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament is still a possibility, it’s unlikely considering they aren’t ranked in the top five of the New England West region. 

“Although the team had aspirations to go deeper into postseason play, the growth of individual players and the improvements we saw as a team since August was impressive,” said Head Coach Nicky Pearson in an email to the Orient. “The captains were terrific in the way they helped transition eight first years into the program and lead the team to some stunning victories along the way.”

Middlebury is a familiar foe for Bowdoin. The teams have faced off in the NESCAC championship for the last five years as well as last year’s NCAA Division III championship. When the teams played each other in late September at Bowdoin, the Polar Bears narrowly lost 3-2. 

Last weekend, the Panthers opened the game strong, scoring their first goal a little over 10 minutes into the first half. While Bowdoin looked to clear the ball out of its defensive end, in the 25th minute the Panthers scored again, giving them a 2-0 lead. 

Kimmy Ganong ’17 had what seemed to be a promising scoring opportunity in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Middlebury goalkeeper blocked both of Ganong’s shots. In the 55th minute, Elizabeth Bennewitz ’19 scored off of a penalty corner, but the goal was called back after the officials ruled that it hit a defender’s stick. 

Even though their record doesn’t reflect their dominance, the team ranks second in the league in goals against average, and Bennewitz currently leads the league in assists per game with .62. 

“Although the season ended earlier than recent years, our team dominated with regards to possession and achieved noticeable improvements in our team defense,” captain Emily McColgan ’17 said in an email to the Orient. “These successes along with the friendships and memories experienced off of the field made for an overall rewarding season.”