The field hockey team upset fourth-ranked Middlebury (2-1 NESCAC, 3-1 overall) 4-2 at home this past Saturday. Bowdoin got on the scoreboard first, when Rachel Kennedy ’16 scored with nine minutes left in the first half. The Polar Bears refused to give up the lead for the rest of the game.

After Kennedy’s goal, the Panthers responded with a goal of their before the end of the half. But Bowdoin started the second half strong. Colleen Finnerty ’16 capitalized on a penalty stroke seven minutes in. Middlebury tied the score two minutes after Finnerty’s goal, but the Polar Bears responded immediately with Kimmie Ganong ’17 tapping in a shot near the left post. Kennedy added an insurance goal with 4:26 remaining. Captain Katie Riley ’14 assisted on three goals.

“Scoring first was pretty important because it set the pace for the game,” said Finnerty. “In field hockey one goal can decide the game. So it’s important to get that first goal and show the other team how you’re going to play.”

The win over the formerly fourth-ranked Panthers also kept Bowdoin’s home winning streak alive at 35.

Coach Pearson emphasized the value of winning on the team’s home turf, saying “It’s huge. It really is huge, we really enjoy the support we get at home. That really makes a difference.”

The crowd support was not the only thing that helped the team power through the game—Bowdoin found extra motivation from the competition.

“The win felt awesome,” said Finnerty. “It’s always a big rivalry between us and Middlebury because we’re the top two teams in the NESCAC almost every year.”

The rivalry has only grown more intense in recent years. In 2011, despite losing to Bowdoin in both the regular season and the NESCAC championship game, Middlebury destroyed the Polar Bears’ national title hopes by beating them in their final four matchup. Last year, Middlebury flipped the script and won both the regular season and NESCAC championship making this win for Bowdoin an even bigger one.

On Wednesday, the Polar Bears made quick work of Bates in Lewiston, scoring four goals in the game’s first nine minutes and going on to win 8-0. Emily Simonton ’15 notched a hat trick and Kennedy put in two goals of her own.

“We’re not looking too far ahead,” said Coach Pearson. “We are excited about some of the things we’ve added to our game but we’re just going back to the drawing board. We’ve got plenty of things to work on.”