The men’s lacrosse team always knew that returning to a full schedule after a two-year hiatus would be a tall order. Despite three-quarters of its roster having never played more than three college games going into this season, the team has stormed to 12 straight wins this season, tied for its best start ever. As the eighth-ranked Polar Bears approach the final games of the regular season, a Division III championship run appears more achievable than it has in years.
Wednesday night’s 20-9 home win over Colby pushed Bowdoin’s winning streak to 12-0, the best start to a season in Bowdoin men’s lacrosse history. The Polar Bears jumped out to an early 5-1 lead and never trailed throughout the rest of the game, handily dispatching the 4-6 Mules. Patrick Fitzgerald ’25 led the team in scoring with seven goals, one away from tying the all-time single-game record.
“[Last night’s win] shows that everything’s coming together,” Fitzgerald said. “Offensively and defensively, we’re playing really well as a team, and we’re showing that we can have success with a bunch of different guys.”
The Polar Bears’ faceoff team, led by Ethan Barnard ’23, dominated Bates 24-9 at the circle. Bowdoin also had a 35-21 advantage in ground balls, which Head Coach Bill Mason cited as a key factor in the victory.
“If you watch a Bowdoin lacrosse game, the effort we have on the ground will stick out,” Mason wrote in an email to the Orient. “It’s a defining characteristic of our team, and I think it’s the biggest correlating factor to our success.”
An underclass-heavy roster also fueled the team’s early success. Three of the team’s four top scorers—Fitzgerald, Will Byrne ’24 and Jason Lach ’25—are first years and sophomores, and a defensive unit anchored by Noah Robb ’24 has held opponents to just 11 goals per game.
“I knew we had a very talented and motivated group that was going to surprise some teams early with our skill, size and speed. Having not played last year though, I think it was difficult … to predict how the start of this season would go,” Mason wrote. “Everything about this season has really been uncharted territory for our team. Going into the season, we were one of the most inexperienced teams in the country … but if you watch us play, it really looks like we have been playing together every day for years.”
Donal Mullane ’22 still leads the team in scoring despite missing the Colby game due to an injury. He applauded his teammates’ ability to look past their own emotions about Covid-related disruptions and focus solely on the field.
“I have just been super impressed by everyone’s emotional maturity to put all the negativity aside last year and all the frustrations that come with missing a season and to just channel it to getting off to the best start in school history,” Mullane said. “I know there are four captains, but there is a huge portion of our team that are leaders [in that respect].”
Last time the team played a full regular season, in 2019-2020, the Polar Bears finished 6-9 and missed out on a NESCAC playoff bid. This year, however, a NESCAC playoff run is a near given, and the team has a realistic shot at an even bigger prize.
“Our goal is to win a NESCAC and a national championship,” Mullane said.
Bowdoin will close out its regular season with just three more games, only one of them at home. The team’s final game of the season is against Tufts, which is currently 9-2 (6-1 NESCAC). Bowdoin has won only one of its last 10 games against the Jumbos, who have not missed the NCAA tournament since 2008.
“Tufts has historically been the gatekeeper of the NESCAC. If you want to be a great team and win a NESCAC championship or a National Championship, you have to go through them,” Mullane said. “I think they have not had the success they have had in other years, but we don’t really care. We just want to play them at their best.”
The Polar Bears return to action on Whittier Field this Wednesday at 7:00 PM, where they will face Clark University.
Sam Pausman contributed to this report.