With a 13-11 win against Hamilton on Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinals, the men’s lacrosse team advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2016. Coming off their first loss of the season to the Tufts team, the Polar Bears started quickly to the tune of a 5-1 lead in the first ten minutes. However, the Continentals picked up their level in the second quarter to close the gap to 7-5 with a Bowdoin lead heading into halftime.
Adjustments during the game break led to Bowdoin controlling the pace and building a 13-8 lead with 6:57 remaining in the game. A late Hamilton rally brought the score to 13-11 before the clock ran out with the Polar Bears claiming a postseason victory for the first time in Whittier Field history. Will Byrne ’24 led all scorers with four goals while Jason Lach ’25 added three of his own to help the Polar Bears advance to the semi-finals.
After their first setback of the season against Tufts, the Polar Bears showcased their resilience. While the game did not mark Bowdoin’s best performance of the season, it was a testament to the team’s “next-play” mentality.
“I think we showed we are a gritty team,” Lach said. “We proved that the game doesn’t always have to be pretty for us to win. We showed that we are going to battle hard regardless of the day. That’s what every game is supposed to be in the playoffs.”
The game demonstrated Bowdoin’s depth on both sides of the ball. Seven different Polar Bears finished the game with a goal or assist with many others contributing defensively.
“I think the way we played together was amazing,” Byrne said. “There’s no selfishness on our team. No one cares who scores the goal. No one cares who has the ball in their stick. Everyone is focused on the team aspect and just winning. The scoreboard at the end of the game is all that really matters.”
However, the win did not come easily. The Polar Bears gave Hamilton second life late in the fourth quarter as they allowed three Continental goals in the final four minutes.
“When we have a lead, we just need to do a better job of taking our time on offense,” Byrne said. “We’ve done a good job all year of doing that. Against Hamilton, though, we let them get back into the game a little bit by not being as relaxed as we could.”
The Polar Bears will take on an Amherst team in the semifinals they defeated earlier this season 15-12. In that game, Byrne and Lach both finished with hat tricks while NESCAC Player of the Year Donal Mullane ’22 led Bowdoin with a nine-point performance. Despite their regular season win, the Polar Bears understand that Saturday’s game will not be a cakewalk.
“They are a really good team that’s explosive and has some guys that can really score,” Byrne said. “We are sticking to our game plan that we’ve had all season long: playing together and working hard. We really like the idea of being this underdog team that no one really believed in going into the season. There’s no reason to change that mentality now.”