McKenna Teague '12 did not even know it was over.
After firing the final penalty stroke past the Messiah keeper in the NCAA D-III Championship title game, she turned around, gave a quick fist-pump, and slowly began to jog back to her team. But her jog did not last long. Teague was suddenly rushed by the other 19 members of the field hockey team who knew what happened—Bowdoin had won its third national field hockey title in four years.
Teague finished off what was a 3-1 penalty stroke victory over the Falcons.
After a 1-1 deadlock through regulation and two overtimes, the national championship game headed into the game-deciding penalty strokes. After trading unsuccessful, and then successful, shots, Kassey Matoin '13 put Bowdoin ahead following a Messiah miss. Another unsuccessful Falcon shot set up Teague for the game-winner.
"I didn't know mine was the winner," Teague—who came off the bench for the shot—said to Bowdoin Athletics. "But I just took it and it went in and the team came all around me."
The match was a brutally close affair. Just prior to halftime, Ella Curren '12 scored the first goal of the match, but it would not be the last.
With under nine minutes left in the game, Messiah equalized. The teams continued to trade opportunities through overtime, but failed to find the net.
Goalie Emily Neilson '11 held the match tight for the Polar Bears, and made an impressive diving swat to her right during the shootout.
The women were nervous heading into the game, they admitted.
"We'd seen them play for a few minutes the day before," captain Ingrid Oelschlager '11 said. "They had a really good center middie—they're a really good team."
Oelschlager felt her team was able to get past that when the time came.
"At this level, both teams are so good, you have to play your own game," Oelschlager said.
There were some complaints about the referees from the Polar Bears, but the women overcame 24 penalty corners from the other team and four cards.
Before reaching the championship, the Polar Bears had to defeat the Skidmore Thoroughbreads—and they did so handily. Despite playing on a longer turf than their normal surface, Bowdoin won the national semifinal 5-0.
Cathleen Smith '13 scored just a few minutes into the game, leaving the score at 1-0 at halftime. After the break, Katie Herter '12 and Olivia King '14 both scored to bring the score to 3-0. Herter then notched another tally, her 20th goal of the season, and Smith converted another goal to cap the final score at 5-0.
"In the first half we didn't really play well; we needed to pick it up," Oelschlager said. "We weren't connecting well on our passes, and it took some time to get used to the different surface. We were playing our game in the second half, and then [the game] wasn't that close."
The large margin allowed many subs to get playing time, giving the starters a chance to rest for the Final.
Compared to the other teams the women had seen, Skidmore was a relative unknown.
"We didn't know anything about them. We hadn't seen them play," Oelschlager said. "Coach [Nicky] Pearson had some notes about their tendencies but it's not like playing a NESCAC team. They had a bunch of fancy corners we knew about beforehand, so we really played well defensively because they didn't score."
In addition to their offensive maneuvers, the Thoroughbreds had a generally aggressive offensive and a different system that caused difficulties in matching up, leaving a pocket in the left-middle side of the offense.
It was after the Polar Bears swept aside Skidmore that they had a chance to watch Messiah defeat Ursinus in the other semifinal matchup.
The national title concludes another extremely successful season for the field hockey team. Heading into its final weekend of regular season play, the team was undefeated but had yet to face Tufts, 12-1 at the time. Bowdoin lost in Medford 1-0, losing its opportunity to host the NESCAC tournament.
But an opportunity for vengeance came. In the NESCAC Championship Final, again in Medford, Tufts was left winless on their own turf—comfortably beaten by the Polar Bears 3-0.
Bowdoin received an automatic bid and a first-round bye to the 30-team NCAA Championship. Perhaps the closest team to a roadblock for Bowdoin—prior to Messiah—was Lebanon Valley in the third round. But Bowdoin rose to the challenge in that match as well, winning 4-3 in overtime at home on Ryan Field.
Three players—Oelschlager, Curren and Katie Herter '12 received All-American honors (See story, page 14).
For the six seniors on the team—Oelschager, Shannon Malloy, Jessie Small, Phoebe McCarthy, Michaela Calnan and Emily Neilson—it was their third national title during their Bowdoin careers. When the six of them arrived on campus, Bowdoin had yet to win a national title in any sport.