Among his numerous duties as Bowdoin’s President, Barry Mills apparently dips into athletic recruiting on occasion. A chance encounter between two fathers on the Williams lacrosse field put current ice hockey and lacrosse goalie Tara Connolly ’13 on the path into Bowdoin’ s record books. 

One of her older brothers played lacrosse at Williams, alongside President Mills’ son. Mills caught wind of her college search at one of their games and made her father promise him to consider Bowdoin. 

After a match against the University of Southern Maine on Wednesday, Connolly now holds the College’s record for career wins as a goalie and stands a good chance at moving into the top-five in career goals-against-average. She is just nine minutes away from the second position in the time-in-goal record. However, she says that she would not have been in the goal for one minute if not for her two older brothers.

“I wanted to do everything they did,” Connolly said. “But they always wanted to shoot on somebody and I didn’t mind playing goalie.”

She actually started with hockey, learning to skate at age three, and also played baseball. She opted for lacrosse after being told she would have to switch to softball instead. 

Picking up the goalie stick in  lacrosse seemed natural, according to Connolly.

“Once you get used to things flying at you, it’s all pretty much the same,” she said. “Besides, I’m not a fast runner, as my teammates will surely confirm.”

Connolly’s successful high school career in both sports caused her to seek an opportunity to play in college, which led her to the NESCAC and eventually Bowdoin. 

At the College, Connolly gravitated toward the history department, and her status as the “history nerd” on the team has become a source of frequent good-natured needling, as have her “inspirational” pre-game emails, which are often laced with historical references.

“She just has a knack for writing really good pre-game emails,” defender Hannah Wright ’13 said. “I always get fired up to play whenever I read a TC email.”

Wright also mentioned how Connolly’s emails portray her overall personality. 

“She’s very funny and very sarcastic,” she said. “But her personality matches her playing style. All goalies have a sort of distinct personality.”

“She’s active,” defender Natalie Moore ’15 said. “She’ll try to intercept passes and will even run up the field if no one is open on the clear. I’ve never seen that before.”

Part of the goalie mindset is the ability to stay consistent even after setbacks, which is particularly important in lacrosse because of the high number of point-blank shots. Connolly said this difference is one of her biggest adjustments from hockey—a sport she also plays at Bowdoin.

“You can easily have three goals go in on the first three shots,” she said. “That’s definitely the most difficult transition from hockey—three goals in hockey and you’re not doing so hot.”

Moore echoed this sentiment in explaining how effective a lacrosse goalie Connolly is. 
“You know those bad-angle shots are never going in,” she said. “Sometimes, teams are getting 30 shots and only four goals; against a lesser goalie that could easily be 20 goals.”
Yet Connolly has an additional measure of her performances. 

“I love the feeling of stuffing somebody,” she said. “If I can get two or three stuffs going over the crease a game, I feel like I played well.”

Attacker Carolyn Gorajek ’13, Bowdoin’s record holder in career points and goals, knows this from first-hand experience. 

“She’s great at stuffing you,” she said. “We try to keep a tally of her saves versus my goals. She’s great at reading where you are going to shoot and making you feel awful about missing.”

Gorajek also added that Connolly’s skill in net allows her to keep the contest competitive, even though lacrosse favors the offensive player. Connolly sees it a bit differently.

“Yeah, we like to compete,” she joked. “Carolyn gets worked up when she loses though.”
The sports editor of the Orient  chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.