The Orient chooses the male and female "Athlete of the Season" based on exemplary performance, leadership, and commitment to their respective programs. The winners are selected by the editors of the Orient.
Sean Bishop ’12
Because of the nature of their position, defenders rarely rack up gaudy statistics or stand out to the casual fan. But center back Sean Bishop '12 of the men's soccer team has demanded the attention of spectators and opponents alike.
Bishop's expertise in the air, where he seems to win every header he contests, is truly a spectacle. The throw-in, a mundane necessity of soccer akin to an inbounds pass in basketball or a faceoff in hockey, turns into something to see with Bishop on the field. On almost any throw-in within the opponent's half, senior defender Danny Chaffetz launches the ball well within the box in the direction of Bishop. As the ball floats back to the ground, Bishop climbs above his teammates and opponents to launch the ball toward the net with his plus-sized, 73/4 inch head. Because of his superior timing and jumping ability, Bishop wins the majority of the headers in his direction in emphatic fashion, accentuating each with a grunt, dropping helpless opponents to the ground.
The junior from Danvers, Massachusetts has been the catalyst for a Bowdoin defense that has allowed only nine goals in 18 games this season. For his efforts, Bishop has been named to the All-NESCAC First Team; the Polar Bears, meanwhile, enter the third round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.
Bishop's ability to jump stems from his days as a volleyball player at St. John's Prep, where he was a Boston Globe All-Scholastic in volleyball, as well as in soccer, as a senior. Coach Fran O'Leary pointed to a number of traits that feed Bishop's aerial expertise.
"Bish has a great vertical leap, assesses the line of flight of the ball with tremendous will and courage," he said. "This cocktail has seen him dominate opponents in the air."
O'Leary, who compliments his defender's positional knowledge and "great soccer brain," has seen Bishop develop into a complete player during his career at Bowdoin.
"[Sean] has added maturity and composure over the years, providing great presence and leadership to our younger players," he said.
Teammate Tim Prior '11, who also played with Sean at St. John's Prep, admires Bishop's competitive nature and defensive tenacity. After many seasons practicing against and playing with Bishop, Prior has learned that Bishop detests losing and plays a very physical brand of soccer.
"[Sean] doesn't play soccer; he plays football," he said. "But, despite being so physical, he's also very composed at center back," Prior said, adding, "I have the most faith in him of anyone on our team."
Prior and O'Leary remember Bishop's only goal of the season, a header that tied the game against Connecticut College that Bowdoin would go on to win 2-1. Both point to the tying goal as one of the turning points of the Polar Bears' season.
Bishop appreciates his growth as a soccer player during his three years at Bowdoin. He credits his improved fundamentals to O'Leary, but also praises Bowdoin's fine dining.
"I've definitely become much bigger and stronger, but I think that has a lot to do with the food at Bowdoin," Bishop said.
Looking forward to the remainder of the NCAA Tournament, Bishop acknowledged, "Every opponent we face from here on out is going to be very good and we have to respect that. I'm looking forward to winning the rest of the games we have this season and the national championship."
With Bishop manning the back line for the Polar Bears, Bowdoin offers a physical and vertical challenge to any opponent. Bowdoin faces Amherst this Saturday, 1 p.m. at Pickard Field with an elite eight spot on the line.
Runners up: Pat Noone '12 (football), Coby Horowitz '14 (cross country).
Ingrid Oelschlager ’11
With the clock winding down in overtime last weekend, field hockey captain Ingrid Oelschlager '11 received the ball. Weaving between three defenders, number 13 made her own luck and slipped a shot past the goalie. The ball hit the back of the goal, and with a bang, the game ended. Bowdoin had advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
This goal boosted Bowdoin to a 4-3 win over Lebanon Valley with 3:21 left on the clock. It was the most recent in a long list of accomplishments and it catapulted the second-seeded Polar Bears to their fifth Final Four appearance in the past six seasons.
With at least one, and possibly two, games still to play, Oelschlager leads the team with nine assists. She has also scored nine goals, taken 68 shots (33 on goal), and played in every game of the season. After being chosen as the NESCAC Player of the Week earlier this month, she was named to the All-NESCAC First Team for the second year in a row.
"Going into this year, I really wanted to win the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments again," said Oelschlager. "I knew there needed to be some adjustments made compared to last season, which was more of a rebuilding year with eight seniors having left. As captain this fall, I wanted to make sure the whole team was on the same page and had consistent goals for the season."
Oelschlager chose to stay on campus this summer, which enabled her to play field hockey both on campus and around the region.
"I usually don't play during the summers back home, and having my co-captain Shannon Malloy here too made it nice," she said.
Having played the sport since sixth grade, Oelschlager knew that this year would be her time to shine.
"As a senior, it's your opportunity to make the greatest impact as a leader," she said. "I never had any doubt about it, but it's exciting that we got back to the point we're now at. Obviously our goal is to win the championship, but making it to the NCAA Final Four is a very special thing in itself."
A week before the Lebanon Valley game, Oelschlager scored twice in Bowdoin's 3-0 victory over Tufts for the NESCAC Championship.
"Hearing the buzzer ring when we beat Tufts was my most memorable moment of this season," she said. "We were so excited to shut them out after having lost to them the prior week, and we had a bunch of alumni on hand to support us."
"During the Tufts win, our whole team played so well," she added. "Me scoring twice was really a reflection of how it all came together, because as center middie, I'm a distributer and depend on my teammates to individually do well."
Along with her statistical success, Oelschlager has also impressed her coach with her leadership skills.
"Ingrid has not only been a dominant player for us this year, but a terrific captain [alongside] Shannon," said head coach Nicky Pearson. "She knew that Sunday would be the last time she played on Ryan Field, and scoring the winning goal in OT to take her team to the Final Four is something she won't forget [for] a while."
Oelschlager plays field hockey because she enjoys working toward a common goal with the teammates she loves.
"It wouldn't be nearly as much fun as it is without them alongside me, and there is no better feeling than succeeding with them," she said. "I also love the sport because it's different and weird."
Oelschlager will also be captain of the women's lacrosse team this spring, playing with a number of her field hockey teammates one final time.
"My current fall teammates have high expectations for the lacrosse season, which I think is good because we bring the feeling to the table that winning championships is possible," she said.
The NCAA semifinal game is in Virginia on Saturday against Skidmore, a team Bowdoin previously beat in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. If the Polar Bears beat the Thoroughbreds, they will play the winner of Messiah College and Ursinus College for the NCAA Championship.
Looking ahead to the final weekend of her Bowdoin field hockey career, Ingrid Oelschlager wishes for one thing above all else.
"Hopefully," she said, "I'll end it with a bang."
Runners up: Ellery Gould '12 (soccer), Katie Herter '12 (field hockey).