The men’s lacrosse team (11–4; 6–4 NESCAC) is gearing up for its NESCAC Quarterfinals game against Amherst College (10–4; 6–4 NESCAC) in Amherst, Mass. tomorrow. The Polar Bears defeated Connecticut College (6–7; 4–6 NESCAC) and lost to Tufts University (15–0; 10–0 NESCAC) on Wednesday night. The Polar Bears enter the tournament as the fifth seed and are hoping to use its experience and offensive prowess to make a deep playoff run.
Bowdoin opened last Saturday’s game with a 5–1 lead. After a brief Camel surge, Bowdoin went on a 6–1 run in the second half to secure the win. However, the game was not without its challenges.
“[Our opponents] shut off Will Byrne [’24],” Head Coach Bill Mason said. “We try to be the most unselfish, sharing offensive we can be, [but] when you take someone out who usually has a pretty decent hand in the sharing and shooting, it created a slight pause in our offense.”
The loss to Tufts on Wednesday felt personal for the Polar Bears. Last year, Tufts handed Bowdoin its only loss of the regular season and defeated Bowdoin in the NESCAC championships.
Although the Polar Bears will not enter the playoffs coming off a win, the game against Tufts helped prepare the team even more for what’s to come.
“A loss obviously isn’t ideal, [but] playing good teams reveals mistakes that won’t be revealed if you’re playing less good teams,” Sam Raye Steiner ’26 said. “From a loss, [we] learn something that will help us iron out those kinks and wrinkles, allowing us to only be better from now on.”
Mason emphasized that the team has become more resilient to losses this year.
“Last year, our first loss was in the final regular season game to Tufts, and it was shocking,” Mason said. “But this year, we’ve already had a couple of losses, so we know how to respond coming off of a loss and are fully prepared to be excited about the next opportunity.”
Preparation for playoffs remains largely similar to that of the regular season. However, the Polar Bears will have the advantage of playing a team they have already faced in the regular season.
“A unique part of playoffs is that it will be the first time we’ve played somebody twice. So you go back to watch what happened in your game and what adjustments were made,” Mason said. “Then you watch the last three games they played to see what they changed since we last played. Are there new players? Are there new schemes?”
Bowdoin also feels more experienced when it comes to the playoffs after last year’s deep run. The team feels confident that it will be able to maintain a calm and collected mindset despite the high stakes.
“You just want to win every game. [Playoffs] definitely are different because the season will end on a loss, so it’s objectively more pressure,” midfielder Oliver Bernstein ’24 said. “But I think we try to approach all games with the same attitude.”
The team hopes to focus on one game at a time rather than worrying about the big picture.
“A big emphasis is just being in the moment and facing the task at hand,” Raye Steiner said. “Coach told us to go to bed thinking of victory, eat well and do everything you can to put your body in the best position possible.”
The team has also been developing confidence and trust in each other which will be especially important if the team enters any matches as the lower seed.
“It’s all about trust and confidence. We all love each other, we all play hard every single day, and having that trust to look away and trust my teammate will make the play,” Raye Steiner said.
Bowdoin suffered a 13–12 loss to Amherst earlier this season. However, Bowdoin defeated Amherst in the regular season and in the NESCAC Semifinals last year.
The Polar Bears know that they have their work cut out for them if they hope to make a deep playoff run and later earn a bid in the NCAA tournament.
“This year is the toughest the league’s ever been … [so] the playoffs are going to be scrappy,” Mason said. “The road isn’t going to be as smoothly-paved as it was last year.”