History can be rewritten, as the men’s soccer team proved last weekend. On Saturday, the unranked Polar Bears defeated the second-ranked team in Division III, Amherst College, by a score of 1-0.
Led by a thrilling header from Charles Ward ’22, the Polar Bears beat Amherst in a men’s soccer competition for the first time in 13 years.
Right back Carlton Steinberg ’24 recognized the historic rivalry and the precedent set between Bowdoin and Amherst in his mental preparation for the game.
“I was really excited because I know the history between Amherst and Bowdoin has created a big rivalry,” Steinberg said. “[Bowdoin hadn’t] beaten Amherst in a long time, so [the team] was all fired up. I felt like I had to [win] for the team.”
The thrill persisted during the game for Steinberg, as he hadn’t experienced the joys of such an intense athletic environment in a long time due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“When you score a goal, you can celebrate with your teammates and run to the corner where all the fans are,” Steinberg said. “The crowd was going wild [during the Amherst game]. We haven’t experienced that excitement in so long, and it feels so good to return to some sense of normalcy.”
Given the high stakes of the game, the team prepared by closely studying Amherst’s tactics.
“Amherst has a specific play style, so we have to prepare differently for [them] than for any other team. We made sure that we were in good shape defensively and that we were prepared for [Amherst’s] throw-ins. Their throw-ins are like another corner kick,” Steinberg said. “We also had to prepare for their physicality because they’re such an athletic and aggressive team.”
Head Coach Scott Wiercinski echoed Steinberg’s sentiments, crediting his team with practicing in a manner that bolstered its confidence when facing Amherst.
“We tried to worry about ourselves instead of our opponents, more than in past years. We wanted to get things with ourselves right in terms of the way that we play,” Wiercinski said. “[Our team] has been really aggressive with our [style of play], which always leads to higher confidence.”
According to Wiercisnki, the team’s dedication in practice translated directly to the game.
“[The team] did a great job of bringing the game to [Amherst] instead of playing retroactively,” Wiercinski said.
Following the monumental win, many concerns and uncertainties regarding the team’s potential for success were erased.
“Leading up to [the Amherst game], there was evidence to suggest that we should be a good team, but [the win] proved it,” Wiercinski said. “We have a lot of young players who haven’t played in [in-conference] games before and haven’t benefited from a regular NESCAC season, but the Amherst game showed us that we’re still a team with high potential that should be difficult to beat.”
Steinberg shares his coach’s positivity and faith in his fellow players, looking forward to future opportunities for the team to cement its position as a force to be reckoned with in Division III men’s soccer.
“We now know that we can play against any team out there,” Steinberg said. “We’re a close-knit group and we have amazing team chemistry. We work well together, and we play for each other, which makes the team even stronger.”