Colleen Finnerty ’15 scored three goals on penalty corners in the field hockey team’s 9-1 win over Connecticut College on Saturday and added an assist in Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Rhodes. The Polar Bears allowed only four shots in its victory Tuesday. 

Finnerty, a defender and team captain, has scored four goals in three games and commands the left side of a defensive unit that has allowed just five goals in 13 games. Connecticut College’s lone goal in the game came just as time expired after the Bowdoin starting defense had been pulled.

Finnerty has taken penalty corners all season for the team, and she believes the team’s 34-goal scoring streak over five games results partially from conversions on these set plays. Penalty corners are widely considered a team’s best chance of scoring, and Finnerty estimated that as many as four of the five goals scored against Williams, and about five of seven scored against Southern Maine, were scored off of corners.

“She’s the quarterback of the corner,” captain Pam Herter ’15 said. “She’s involved in every single goal we score off of the corner, regardless of whether she’s the one who puts the ball in the back of the net.”

Rhodes’ goal on Tuesday also represented the first time Bowdoin’s starters had allowed a goal off of a penalty corner.

“I don’t think this is a stat you could look up, but if you could, you’d see how many defensive saves she had.” Herter said. “She’s really robbed a lot of teams of their goals.”

While Finnerty is the oldest of Bowdoin’s nearly impenetrable defensive line, she has arguably the least experience at the position, and perhaps at the game itself. An ice hockey player first, she picked up field hockey in high school when she was required to fill her fall season. Field hockey was an obvious choice.  “If it has anything to do with hockey, you play it,” she said. 

Finnerty came to Bowdoin to play ice hockey and walked on to the field hockey team, though Head Coach Nicky Pearson was already aware of her. Finnerty’s high school coach is a Bowdoin Field Hockey alumna and was eager to refer a potential Polar Bear for recruitment. 
Pearson has been tremendously successful at developing ice hockey players to excell at field hockey, despite their comparatively limited experience with the game. Such players are often able to leverage the athleticism they gain from ice hockey to create advantages for themselves, and Finnerty is no exception.

“She pops up where you have no idea how she got there or where she came from,” Kim Kahnweiler ’16 said.

Pearson also acknowledges that Finnerty’s experience playing ice hockey can be seen when playing field hockey.

“She’s always had a great stick and good hands,” she said. “She stops the ball cleanly and handles the ball well.”

A forward on the ice, she started as a field hockey midfielder before transitioning to defense her junior year so she could help fill the holes created by graduated seniors.

An offensive-minded player by nature, Finnerty worried about this transition to defense, but was told she could roam up the field as long as she could get back to play defense. In addition, Pearson teaches the entire team to move forward and backward with the ball, so the defense can move as far up the field as the offensive 25-yard-line.

 “I had to learn how to play defense last year,” Finnerty said. “It’s a different set of skills that you have to learn to use all of the time.”

“At this point I’ve stopped worrying about whether she’s going to get back,” Kahnweiler said. “There were times when we were still learning that I would get a little nervous. Now I wouldn’t give it a second thought. “

“She’s key in our transition game and also a scoring threat.” added Pearson. “She truly has an impact all over the field.”