Carolyn Gorajek '13 has been a boost of energy to the women's lacrosse team all year. She was never more helpful than in a critical NESCAC faceoff against Williams last Saturday.
Gorajek led the attack for the Polar Bears, netting three goals to give the Polar Bears an 11-6 edge with 20 minutes to play. The game looked well in Bowdoin's favor, but the Ephs stormed back with a 6-1 run that tied the game at 12 and sent it into overtime.
"I was really nervous," Gorajek said. "It was hot out and the game had already been very intense, and then suddenly we were in overtime."
After two scoreless periods, the game went to a sudden-death format. Gorajek decided she had had enough of the stalemate. Finding herself with the ball in her stick behind the William's net, Gorajek charged forward and wrapped around the crease before ripping a shot past the Eph goalie. The ball hit the netting and Gorajek's teammates quickly mobbed her in celebration.
"It was such a great feeling," said Gorajek. "It just felt amazing to be able to do that for the team."
The game-winning tally was a fitting reward for a player who has become an asset to the Bowdoin squad. This season, Gorajek is fourth on the team with 19 goals and second on the team with eight assists. In addition, she has started in all 14 games for the Polar Bears, who are currently 10-4 heading into their regular season finale today against Tufts.
Gorajek is a defining piece of a Bowdoin team brimming with young talent. The youth of this year's team is striking. Of the 24-player roster, there are eight first years and 11 sophomores, but a mere three juniors and two seniors.
The relative inexperience of Gorajek and the team has not been a problem. While still progressing through her first season, Gorajek has already displayed that she is very comfortable playing at the collegiate level.
"I am impressed by Carolyn's poise on the field as a first year," said Head Coach Liz Grote. "In the game vs. Williams she had no fear reading the opponents' defense and taking advantage of it."
Gorajek noted that playing for Bowdoin was a huge step up from Peddie, the New Jersey prep school that she attended.
"Coming into Bowdoin, I was pretty nervous and intimidated," said Gorajek. "I thought I might not even make the team. But, I think that I made the transition to college lacrosse pretty well. My teammates are really supportive and I love the coaches."
Gorajek mentioned her two warmup buddies in particular: Katherine McNeil '12 and Tara Connely '13.
"I'm definitely superstitious," Gorajek noted. "I always have to have Kat put in my hair tie before games."
"Carolyn was able to step right on the field in a starting role this year with no problem," said Grote. "Carolyn has great strength, speed and stick skills, which certainly have helped her so far this season. She adapted to the pace of the collegiate game quickly. She has learned from good and bad experiences in each game and that in turn makes her a better player every day."
For Gorajek, playing lacrosse is a family tradition. Her parents were both lacrosse players who have maintained their dedication to the sport even after they stopped competing. Gorajek's parents started a town league in the family's hometown of Hightstown, New Jersey, to make the sport accessible to a wide range of kids. While Gorajek mainly played in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League with Peddie, rather than the town league, she noted that her parents still had an immense influence on her lacrosse career.
"I'll always remember my dad throwing lacrosse balls with me in my backyard" she said. "My parents were very supportive of me."
Gorajek's little sister Lauren has furthered her family's love for lacrosse and is currently a sophomore playing for Peddie. With her older sister's performance thus far at Bowdoin, she has big cleats to fill. With three more years playing for the Polar Bears, Gorajek has the potential to set quite an example.