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Polar Bear of the Week: Donal Mullane ’21

April 28, 2022

Captain Donal Mullane ’21 has been instrumental in the men’s lacrosse team’s unprecedented success this spring. The attacker tied the school record for points per game (11) in a midweek matchup with Clark University and then beat the record with six goals and six assists in a game against Connecticut College. Following the record-setting performance, Mullane added five goals and four assists against Tufts University this Wednesday.

The men’s lacrosse team finished 14-1 on the year, with their only loss coming against Tufts. Mullane is second in the NESCAC in total goals (53) and has been named the NESCAC player of the week twice this season. However, Mullane attributes much of his success to his teammates.

“A lot of the individual statistics I have are a credit to who I have been playing with,” Mullane said. “The other day I had six assists, there were six times that people made shots. On a lot of my goals people pick for me or clear through. Any individual success any of us have had, whether it’s me, Will Byrne [’24], Patrick Fitzgerald [’25] or Jason Lach [’25], is a credit to the whole team.”

According to Mullane, the team’s coaches have also played a huge part in both his individual success and that of the team. In his first Bowdoin season, head coach Bill Mason has emphasized the culture of a growth mindset and constant improvement instead of focusing on results.

“We’ve all bought into that,” Mullane said. “Even if you lose in practice or lose a drill, it is part of the process of getting 1 percent better. You can view it more positively and see it as an opportunity to improve.”

“Coach Mason really backs it up,” Mullane said. “The 1 percent better applies to him as well. You can see him working on stuff and he will text us after games saying he [wishes] he did something earlier. He takes accountability.”

In addition to the support from his teammates and coaches, Mullane’s experience coaching his high school’s lacrosse team during his year off from Bowdoin also contributed to his impactful season.

“I spent the whole spring coaching which gave me a new perspective on the sport and has helped me find more success this year than other years just because I have a better understanding of the game,” Mullane said.

In Mullane’s first-year season, 2019, the team finished with a record of 6-9, and finished 8-7 the following year. This year Mullane and the rest of the roster have beaten the school record for most consecutive wins in a season—a record that has stood since 1989. If the team wins two more games, including playoffs, it will break the record for most wins in a season.

“The difference between this team and other teams I’ve been on is [that] we will go down early and no one gets flustered, no one points any fingers, everyone just comes together and doesn’t make excuses and just pushes forward,” Mullane said.

Mullane emphasized that with all this success, the cultural fundamentals have not changed, but the team’s confidence has.

“Our confidence has evolved in terms of understanding that a lot of these goals we used to have in the past are more realistic,” Mullane said. “When we were an eight seed or nine seed, you can say you want to win a NESCAC championship, but it’s pretty tough, versus now I think it falls in that narrative of getting one percent better because we are that close.”

Mullane also expressed his excitement and gratitude to be able to finish off his Bowdoin lacrosse career back on campus with his teammates.

“I’m definitely ecstatic that I came back [for another season],” he said. “At this point in my career, I really like playing for the guys I play with. The best feeling for me is coming back in the locker room, I mean after missing those two Covid-19 years, and seeing 44 of your best friends all smiling happy after a game that you won. That’s really what I play for. Those guys.”

Sam Pausman contributed to this report.

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