It was a dramatic ending to a great season. Last night, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Bowdoin fell 6-5 in penalty kicks to SUNY Plattsburgh. The quick exit was not unfamiliar to the Polar Bears. Bowdoin's last appearance in the tournament was in 2003, when the team lost to Wheaton 9-8 in a nearly identical penalty kick duel.

"We played our hearts out and left it all on the field," said co-captain Matt Ostrup '10.

This season was the first time that Bowdoin had qualified for the NCAA Tournament in the five-year reign of Coach Fran O'Leary. The Polar Bears received an at-large bid last Sunday, joining fellow NESCAC teams Amherst, Wesleyan, and conference champion Williams in the tournament. Bowdoin ended the season with a solid 11-4-2 record (5-3-1 NESCAC).

Facing Plattsburgh, Bowdoin displayed the solid defense that has defined the team this year. However, the Cardinals came out flying and had the upper hand early. Plattsburgh maintained a strong defense as well, making for few good scoring chances.

In the second half, Bowdoin stepped up its midfield play and put more pressure on the Cardinals.

A flurry of shots in the final fifteen minutes put goalie Dan Hicks '11 under pressure, but most attempts sailed wide of the net, and Hicks was forced to make only three saves. On numerous occasions, Hicks leapt off of his line to intercept dangerous Plattsburgh crosses.

The best scoring chance of the game came from Call Nichols '12 in the 57th minute. Nichols neatly flicked a header towards the Plattsburgh goal, but goalkeeper Andy Heighington punched the ball over the crossbar to preserve the clean sheet. It was one of Heighington's six saves of the game.

The teams remained deadlocked until the end of regulation, at which point the Cardinals had outshot the Polar Bears 12-6. In the two 10-minute overtime periods, action was centered in the midfield, as Alex Thomas '13 had the only shot. After 110 minutes of scoreless play, the teams headed to penalty kicks.

After a Plattsburgh miss on the second penalty kick and four consecutive Bowdoin scores from Nichols, Hunter Clark '13, Ostrup, and Tom Wakefield '10, striker Eddie Jones '12 stepped up to the spot with a chance for the win. Jones's kick was stopped by the Cardinal keeper and Plattsburgh's score sent the competition into sudden death. Michael Gale '13 and Plattsburgh's Bart Misiak traded goals before Danny Chaffetz's '11 shot was blocked.

Following the Cardinal save, Plattsburgh's seventh kicker Mike Payne was able to finish off the Polar Bears with one last successful penalty shot. The kick sent Plattsburgh into the second round of the tournament against the University of Rochester.

"It's unfortunate," Wakefield said. "PKs are always a crapshoot."

The disappointing defeat was preceded by Bowdoin's loss to Williams in the NESCAC semifinals. In the 2-0 loss, Bowdoin gave a strong showing, outshooting the future NESCAC champions Ephs 12-10.

In the 20th minute, on the first shot of the game, Pierre Meloty-Kapella struck a ball from the top of the box to bag his eighth goal of the season. In the 68th minute, Williams extended its lead. Gaston Kelley curled a corner kick into a crowd in the box, where Will Whiston pounded home the header.

Bowdoin maintained better pressure in the second half, including a late opportunity by Eddie Jones '12, who collected a rebound, but sent it just over the net. Goalkeeper Andrew Graham had one save in the shutout, as did Hicks.

"I thought we played well against Williams," said O'Leary. "The game could've gone either way, but good for Williams for coming away with a win"

Coming into the tournament game against Plattsburgh, Bowdoin had only ceded 10 goals this year, half of which were scored by Williams's players. Earlier in the season Bowdoin had fallen to Williams 3-2 in overtime.

"There is a solid core of younger players. The team is only going to go up next season," said Wakefield.