In the NESCAC quarterfinal match last Saturday, the third-seeded women’s soccer team (10–4–2; 5–4–1 NESCAC) lost to sixth-seeded Wesleyan University (7–4–5; 4–3–3 NESCAC). After an intense game that remained scoreless after 110 minutes of play, Wesleyan edged out the Polar Bears 5–3 in a penalty kick shootout. The team is in consideration for an at-large NCAA tournament bid, which will be announced on Monday.
Wesleyan outshot Bowdoin 18–14 and had a 7–6 advantage in corner kicks. Polar Bear goalkeeper Alex Arndt ’23 made 11 saves.
“The biggest problem I thought was that we must be able to score, as simple as it sounds,” forward Morgan Smiley ’24 said. “Without scoring, you can’t win. By going into penalty kicks, we gave Wesleyan exactly what they hoped for: a tie, because they knew they wouldn’t be able to score on our back line.”
Forward Samaya Bernardo ’24 tried to get a shot off in the 29th minute of the match but ran out of space. Later, Smiley narrowly missed the crossbar.
“Going to penalty kicks is the worst,” Smiley said. “It doesn’t reflect how the entire game was going, and it’s brutal to have played 110 minutes for it to come down to something like that…. During the penalty kicks, I was so so nervous—it’s just a crazy amount of pressure, not only for winning the game, but with all the fans at the game, too.”
However, the players were able to push through the long match with a collective sense of determination.
“We kept our composure and stayed connected throughout the entire game, which was a strength for us this season,” midfielder Rachael Peacock ’23 said. “[Throughout the game], the team remained positive and united…. I was, and still am, very proud of the way we handled ourselves throughout the duration of the game.”
Smiley also took pride in how the team reacted after the game.
“After the loss, there was nothing but positivity. Of course, sadness and frustration are natural, but to one another, we handled the loss very well,” Smiley said.
As the players reflect on their regular season, they are most proud of their 2–0 victory against Tufts in October.
“During my time on this team, our games against Tufts had always been close, but we had never been able to beat them,” Peacock said. “Coming away with a win this year was a great feeling, and, considering it is my last season, it was a full circle moment. That game was a great team win and a testament to all the work that the team has put in over the past year.”
About 30 of the 64 teams that will compete in the NCAA tournament receive an automatic place in the tournament, and the remaining spots are at-large bids that are granted based on team performance.
“We put ourselves in a very good position coming out of the regular season third in the NESCAC,” Smiley said. “Now, all we can do is hope what we proved and accomplished in the regular season is enough for a bid. The NESCAC takes the most teams for women’s soccer because of how competitive the conference is, so I really hope we can get a bid despite the loss.”
The team is still practicing, so they will be ready to play next week if given the chance.
“We are just refining what we have. We have a super talented team, and in the last couple weeks of the season we found our footing,” Smiley said. “NCAA’s would give us a chance to continue to refine and improve on this momentum. We are our own worst enemy—once we trust ourselves, I genuinely don’t believe there is a team that can stop us.”
If the team receives a bid on Monday, they will play Saturday, November 12.