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One game at a time, women’s soccer claws its way back into contention

October 25, 2019

After an 0-4-1 start to its season, the Bowdoin women’s soccer team has turned a corner, successfully winning six out of their last eight games. With a 2-0 victory over Bates (2-10-1, 0-8-0 NESCAC) on Sunday, the team has improved to 6-6-1 overall (2-5-1 in NESCAC) and put itself in a position to make a run for the conference playoffs.

Team leaders Morgen Gallagher ’20 and Sophia Lemmer ’20—the women’s soccer team does not have captains—attribute the team’s newfound success to more time spent in practice, which has allowed the relatively young team to adjust to the more intense pace and physicality of college-level play.

“Our early schedule was really jam-packed, [with] back-to-back games where we didn’t have much time to practice together as a team … we were making these little errors, and we didn’t really have much time to fix them,” said Lemmer. “As the season went on, we’ve been able to have full weeks in between games, which just let us focus on what we need to fix … in order to succeed.”

In an email to the Orient, Head Coach Brianne Smithson also cited several significant injuries as an early-season setback. These injuries led to constant changes to the lineup and sometimes forced players into new positions mid-game. As a result, Smithson emphasized how important a process-oriented mindset has been to the team.

Gallagher echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on the process and things that we can control, rather than becoming obsessed with our results, and that’s helped us actually get the results that we want,” she said.

Neither player expressed doubts regarding the team’s talent—it was simply a matter of putting it all together. That moment came on September 28, when Bowdoin defeated Trinity (5-6-2, 3-4-1 NESCAC) 2-1 for its first NESCAC win of the season.

“That was a big mental shift for us, where we put everything together offensively and defensively, and we were seeing the results on the field,” said Gallagher. “It was helpful for our morale and just affirmation of the work we’re putting into practice.”

The veterans, especially the leadership team of Gallagher, Lemmer and Lynn Farquhar ’21, have been instrumental in keeping the team united. They have tried hard to reach out to the younger players and help build a sense of inclusion, whether it’s through weekly team bonding events or simply getting meals together. Smithson credited the returning players for fostering team cohesion.

“We have been impressed with how well the team has handled the adversity and resulting changes,” Smithson wrote. “We are fortunate to have a strong group of veterans who have set the tone for us in this area.”

Moving forward, Gallagher, Lemmer and Smithson look to maintain their process-oriented mindset as the team plays the final two games of the regular season. They will face Williams (8-3-1, 6-2-0 NESCAC) at Pickard Field on Saturday and will travel to Tufts (10-1-2, 6-1-1 NESCAC) on Tuesday. In order to have a chance at qualifying for the playoffs, Bowdoin will have to win at least one of those two games.

When asked what her hopes are for the next two games and beyond, Gallagher’s response was simple: “To play as long as we can.”

Once again, she and Smithson are on the same page.

“Our conference is incredibly competitive, and we have learned over time that any team can get a result on any given day,” wrote Smithson. “We know we have the opportunity to keep this season going—one game at a time.”

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