Instead of packing up their dorm rooms in the final days of last semester, players on the women's lacrosse team were busy making program history in New York.
After an 11-9 victory over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on May 21, Bowdoin advanced to the NCAA D-III championship game against Gettysburg the following day.
The Bullets fired first and never looked back, having three four-plus-goal runs and jumping out to an 11-2 halftime lead en route to a 16-5 win.
Unprepared to combat the Bullets with a man-to-man defense, the Polar Bears had practiced a new zone coverage scheme all year and had little experience transitioning between the two.
Going into the game, Bowdoin was coming off a busy week that forced many of the athletes to take finals in their hotel.
It was a long season for the Polar Bears, and the excitement of reaching the Final Four for the first time in program history was unable to suppress the team's fatigue.
"Gettysburg could do no wrong, which was tough," said Grote. "I've never seen a team move the ball like they did all year, and after giving it every ounce of everything we had in the game against TCNJ, we didn't really have enough gas left in the tank."
While there were only two seniors on the 2011 team, they were key contributors on a team full of stars. Defender Ingrid Oelschlager '11 garnered First Team All-American honors in the spring after picking up the same accolade last fall for field hockey, while midfielder Katy Dissinger '11 stood out on both sides of the ball. Oelschlager and Dissinger, along with goalkeeper Tara Connolly '13, were named to the D-III Tournament All-Star Team.
Dissinger "was huge for us in the tournament," said Grote, "and in her four years here those weeks stood out to me as her shining moments. Ingrid, similarly, was phenomenal and will be missed."
The upcoming season's team consists of eight seniors, including captains McKenna Teague and Chelsea Albright. Bowdoin is also returning its scoring and ground ball leaders in Carolyn Gorajek '13, Liz Clegg '12, Katie Herter '12, and Katie Stewart '12.
Though the Polar Bears pride themselves on being very fast as a team, their depth is also an advantage.
"Every one of our kids is a key contributor," said Grote. "Any of them can score, and any can stop the other team. Our attacks believe they are the first line of defense against opponents."
"Our leadership with Ingrid and [Dissinger] was key," she continued. "But the passion they all have for each other shines through in both practice and games."
Many of the lacrosse players also star on the field hockey team, and last year there were 16 two-season athletes on the 26-person team.
"Playing another sport not only provides them with structure," said Grote, "but keeps them competitive all the time and helps cross-train. Winning with other teams also gives them the confidence that they can help the lacrosse team success."
Although the women's lacrosse team went as far as it could this past season, there are still many opportunities for improvement.
"I just wish we could have switched to a man-to-man defense and made the change in the finals," said Grote, "In the future, we want to flip in and out between the different defenses."
If the team is able to build on what it learned from 2011's unfortunate defeat, Bowdoin students a year from now will be unpacking their belongings with a shiny new prize resides in the trophy case.