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Men’s soccer hopes for NCAA bid after NESCAC quarterfinals loss

November 3, 2022

Courtesy of Brian Beard
SLIDE SHOW: Joe Paul ’23 attempts to move the ball down the field against Connecticut College in the NESCAC quarterfinals last Saturday. The match was tied 1–1 after 110 minutes of play and had to go to a penalty kick shootout. The NCAA at-large bids will be announced on Monday.

The men’s soccer team (11–1–4; 6–1–3 NESCAC) lost to Connecticut (Conn) College (7–5–4; 3–5–2 NESCAC) in a 3–1 in penalty kick shootout in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The match was 1–1 through 110 minutes of play. The Polar Bears entered the tournament as the first seed for the first time since 2010. The team is still in consideration—and hopeful—for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, which will be announced on Monday.

Despite the loss, Head Coach Scott Wiercinski said the team has greatly improved since its first game against Conn. In this last match, the team played more offensively and had more control of the ball.

“The tone of the game was very different. In the first game … we were much more defensive and poised to play in the counterattack,” Wiercinski said. “I think we certainly created a lot more chances to score in this game than we did in the first game. I think the bottom line is that we’ve improved a ton since we played them the first time.”

The Polar Bear offense outshot the Camels 17–11. Felipe Rueda Duran ’26 barely missed the net in the fifth minute of the game, and the Polar Bears blundered a penalty kick in the 43rd minute.

“I think the chances we created, we could have scored on them. We didn’t miss by a lot. Oftentimes, we were just wide or just over or their goalkeeper made a good save there. Finishing or scoring goals is always the most difficult thing to do in a soccer game,” Wiercinski said.

In the second half of the match, midfielder Ronaldo Cabral ’25 scored Bowdoin’s only goal in the match. Julian Juantorena ’23 gained possession of the ball and lofted it towards the back post of the goal, where Tyler Huck ’26 received the pass in the box. Huck then moved the ball to Cabral, who didn’t miss.

“I had a really good feeling going into the game. I knew that the game was going to be an important one, and if I had an opportunity, I was going to make the best of it. That opportunity came, and it felt really good,” Cabral said. “That was also the first game that we’ve had as many fans as we did, so it was super exciting to just do it in front of that many people.”

Midfielder Minseo Bae ’22 said the whole team was elevated by the goal—as if they had scored themselves.

“I really found myself being super happy. I didn’t care that it wasn’t me. I just cared that our teammate got a goal,” Bae said.

The team is still confident in its abilities and looks forward to having the opportunity to stage a comeback this fall in the NCAA tournament.

“You learn a lot more from losing than winning. After that loss, that definitely sparked our motivation to hit the gas pedal,” Bae said. “There’s a big difference between knowing we can do it and actually doing it. We really want to start showing everybody that we are a powerful team.”

The NCAA tournament will consist of 64 teams. About 30 teams each year receive an automatic bid, and the remaining slots are given out to teams based on their performance during their seasons and conference playoffs.

“We’re definitely all pretty nervous. We hope that our season isn’t done just because of how well we did,” defender Dylan Reid ’22 said. “I think we’re all … treating this week of practice like we will and training just as hard as we would any other week.”

Bae emphasized that, no matter how the team’s season ends, this year was one of his best at Bowdoin.

“I was just making sure that I cherished every single moment,” Bae said.

If the Polar Bears receive an at-large bid, they will play on Saturday, November 12.


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