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Men’s lacrosse to face Williams in NESCAC quarterfinals this weekend

April 25, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
QUARTER PAST: The third-seeded men’s lacrosse team will take on sixth-seeded Williams College in the NESCAC quarterfinals tomorrow. The team is anticipating a rematch against Wesleyan or Tufts if it advances to the semifinals.

This week, men’s lacrosse (10–4, 8–2 NESCAC) suffered two losses to Wesleyan University (12–3, 8–2 NESCAC) and five-time NESCAC champions Tufts University (13–2, 9–1 NESCAC). The Polar Bears ended their regular season as the third seed and will face sixth-seeded Williams College (9–6; 6–4 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal playoffs tomorrow.

Tufts is a much anticipated matchup for the Polar Bears every year. On Wednesday night, the game featured long scoring runs for both teams. By early in the second quarter, Tufts had scored five goals in a row before Bowdoin responded with four consecutive goals. After halftime, Tufts came roaring back with six unanswered goals and won 13–16.

“Lacrosse is such a momentum game, especially late in the year with the energy and the emotion of every goal,” Head Coach Bill Mason said. “Tufts is certainly that type of team. They play really fast, so if you make a little error, it gets exposed.”

Given these momentum swings, the players focused on keeping their composure and playing smart.

“My message is always ‘next play.’ We have shirts that say it. [It means] to have that quick reset and focus on the next play,” Mason said. “Whether [the other team scores], they have momentum or we score, we need to quickly move on to that next play because the next play is so critical.”

Midfielder Colin Campbell ’26 echoed Mason’s words and emphasized the importance of staying level-headed.

“I try to be in the middle emotionally. When momentum is going our way, [I try] to not get too high because things can turn in the blink of an eye,” Campbell said.

Despite the unpredictable nature of the game, the Polar Bear defense was able to hold Tufts’ offense to below its season average of 18 goals per game.

“I thought we stopped [Tufts’] transition, their fast play, and we forced them to play six on six with us, which was the game plan,” goalie Robert Hobbs ’25 said. “I felt, overall, the defense looked really good. Having them in front of me helps a lot, knowing that they’re going to make my job as easy as possible.”

The Polar Bears are a strong favorite heading into the NESCAC quarterfinals. In their regular season matchup, Bowdoin dominated Williams 14–6. However, Mason said that many of Williams’ starting players did not play in the regular season game, so Bowdoin is still anticipating a tough matchup.

“Williams is well-coached, so they’re going to be organized. They’re going to have a great game plan … so they’re going to be tough to crack,” Mason said. “I think the game is going to come down to all those little plays, some of those transition opportunities, the clearing aspect of the game [and] making sure that you’re not turning the ball over.”

Many of this year’s players are graduating seniors for whom the playoffs may be the final games of their collegiate careers.

“We have around 18 seniors, so it’s hard not to look at [quarterfinals] as the end-all be-all. So, it’s a little scary in that sense,” Hobbs said. “But I think that’s also the fun part. Everyone lives for big games like that. So, I think we’re going to rise to the occasion. This group has a lot of love for each other, and we are going to put our best foot forward.”

This will be Campbell’s first full year playing in the regular season and playoffs.

“I think it’s really fun to have these stakes on the line. As a competitor, that’s what you live for. You’d love to compete for big things. I think that this team is capable of doing the big things,” Campbell said.

If Bowdoin advances past the quarterfinals, it will likely play against Wesleyan or Tufts in the semifinals. Wesleyan and Tufts were the only two NESCAC teams that defeated Bowdoin in the regular season. For this reason, Mason looks forward to an exciting playoff series.

“I hope we get a big crowd [for the quarterfinals] because playing in front of a big crowd always helps. It’s also such a big game if we can win this one,” Mason said. “It puts us in a rematch, likely with Wesleyan or any of these other teams, but it [also] puts us in a really good spot that we want to be playing for in the semifinals.”

The quarterfinals match will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow on Whittier Field.


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