The women’s lacrosse team (6–9; 3–7 NESCAC) will take on top-seeded Middlebury College (15–0; 10–0 NESCAC) in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs tomorrow. The Polar Bears enter the playoffs as the eighth seed and are coming off a 15–9 win against Connecticut College (Conn; 5–9; 1–9 NESCAC) and a 15–18 loss to Tufts University (12–3; 8–2 NESCAC).
Midfielder Ellie Schofield ’24 is confident heading into the postseason, citing that Bowdoin has only improved since it lost to Middlebury 15–9 earlier this season.
“I think that we’re at a much better place as a team to face them again,” Schofield said. “This past week in practice, we’ve been working on really being each other’s toughest competitors so that we’re ready to face high pressure [going] into this weekend.”
Attacker Sophia Sudano ’24 hopes that Bowdoin will be motivated to play its best against undefeated Middlebury.
“[Middlebury is] the type of team that we rise to the occasion for, which is awesome,” Sudano said. “I think if we’re really smart, composed, we limit our turnovers [and] we pay attention to our defense, it should be a really close game.”
Heading into the weekend, the Polar Bears are hoping to channel some of their play from last Saturday’s victory against Conn. Schofield attributes the win to key connections between offense and defense.
“During that game, we were really able to put it together. Everyone was able to find their groove. We worked really well together on offense and nailed down our defense that we’d been practicing the week before,” Schofield said.
The team practiced offensive plays against a zone defense leading up to the game, which helped Bowdoin find some offensive momentum.
“One thing we’ve always wanted to work on is playing together as a unit against zone defense … and we did that. We were able to score 15 goals, which is huge, especially for us,” Sudano said.
Several other members of the team had key performances against Conn. Attacker Colleen McAloon ’23 scored three goals and had three caused turnovers, attacker Fiona Bundy ’22 scored three goals and had five draw controls and midfielder Sophia Schaefer ’22 had four ground balls and three caused turnovers.
In its regular season finale against Tufts on Wednesday, Bowdoin took an early lead but could not withstand Tufts’ comeback. However, the team is taking the loss in stride.
“We’ve played very close games with [Tufts], and they’re a very good competitor, but I think the NESCAC is always up for grabs. On any given day, somebody can perform and beat the other team. We’ve seen crazy upsets this year,” Sudano said.
As they enter the NESCAC quarterfinals, the Polar Bears hope to build on what they have been working on in practice and the momentum from their win against Conn.
“[Head Coach Liz Grote] always says, ‘play Bowdoin lacrosse,’ because it means play how we play in practice, play with our roots, play how we’ve learned how to play together,” Sudano said.
The Polar Bears have their work cut out for them, as Middlebury is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. Bowdoin has lost its last seven games to Middlebury and has only recorded two wins against the Panthers since 2006.
Despite its odds on paper, the team intends to maintain a positive attitude and uphold its core values this weekend.
“We have these values on our team: grit, respect, together and trust. Those are the principles that we always carry—respect your opponent, respect yourself, respect your teammates,” Sudano said.
Bowdoin will play Middlebury tomorrow in Middlebury, Vt.