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Women’s soccer knocks out Conn., advances to NESCAC semifinals

November 3, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
FINAL FOUR: Morgan Smiley ’24 fends off a defender during a game. The women's soccer team's win against Conn. in the NESCAC quarterfinals last weekend marks the first time the team has made it to the NESCAC semifinals since 2015.

The women’s soccer team (9–3–4; 5–2–3 NESCAC) defeated Connecticut College (9–6–1; 4–5–1 NESCAC) 1–0 in a rainy NESCAC quarterfinal match last Sunday. With the help of an early goal and strong defensive play, the No. 3 Polar Bears advanced to the NESCAC semifinals for the first time since 2015 and will face off against No. 2 Williams College (9–3–4; 6–2–2 NESCAC) tomorrow afternoon in Amherst, Mass.

Bowdoin was originally set to host the Camels at Pickard Field on Saturday, but after the shooting in Lewiston last Wednesday, the game was pushed back and moved to Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

“We went in on Sunday knowing that we still had to play and that we were lucky to even get to play. We were all thankful to be together playing our sport, even though we didn’t get the home field advantage,” midfielder Mary Rainey ’27 said.

Bowdoin struck early, scoring the match’s only goal in the 12th minute. Captain and midfielder Greta Farkas ’24 lined up a free kick, and forward Samaya Bernardo ’24 deflected the ball to the right post, where Rainey shot and scored.

The tally marked Rainey’s first collegiate goal.

“I was so excited. It was perfect timing,” Rainey said. “It was only my second game playing forward this season, so getting that goal gave me a lot of confidence.”

The Polar Bear offense continued to generate chances and ended the match with a 10–9 edge in shots and a 6–4 lead in shots on goal.

“I think we had composure on the ball, and we were really trying to play strategic balls that would break [Conn.’s] back line. When we drive at the defense and dribble at them, it draws fouls,” Farkas said.

Farkas also attributed the team’s success to its new formation. For much of last season and some of this year, Bowdoin played a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the middle. Halfway through this year, the team switched to a flat four formation. Sunday was the first time the Polar Bears had played Conn. since making the change.

“I think we were really able to frustrate [Conn.] and shut down their attack. They just had to send long balls instead of playing through us, which worked well for us,” Farkas said.

Bowdoin’s defense stood strong, and goalkeeper Charlotte Iannone ’26 made four stops, including one in the final minute of the game. Bowdoin has not given up more than two goals in a match all season.

“We’ve been getting better about coming out on our front foot,” defender Kyra Hacker ’26 said. “We tried a bunch of formations at the beginning. I think we’ve really found the one that works for us, and we found our defensive group.”

The defense’s consistency has also helped the offense find its pace this season.

“We have such a strong defense that it allows for people to take risks up top,” Rainey said. “They allow for everyone else to attack and feel more free, which has been a big emphasis for us. If we’re feeling confident and taking risks, things will come.”

Advancing to the NESCAC semifinals is a significant feat for Bowdoin, as no player on the current roster has made it past the quarterfinals.

“Our team was joking that we finally broke the curse,” Hacker said.

This week, Bowdoin has been practicing to take on Williams, who Farkas said typically has good ball retention and possession through the middle. Earlier this season, Bowdoin lost 0–2 to Williams. Both of Williams’s goals came from set pieces: the first was a penalty, and the second was a corner.

“Since we’ve played [Williams], I think we’ve grown a lot as a team. We’re excited to play them again,” Farkas said. “Since they didn’t get us on regulation goals, it’s a little more settling. We also had a couple players who were injured then who are back now.”

If the Polar Bears defeat Williams tomorrow, they will play in the championship game on Sunday. Bowdoin’s opponent will be the winner of the Wesleyan University (7–3–6; 3–2–5 NESCAC) and Amherst College (14–1–1; 8–1–1 NESCAC) match.

While the team’s current goal is to win the NESCAC tournament, Bowdoin also hopes to get a bid for the NCAA DIII tournament held later this month.

“We have great team chemistry, and I think we will be able to continue to play off each other and just get better,” Farkas said.


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