The Bowdoin Men's Lacrosse Team has jumped out to a quick start this season, with a promising 6-2 record. Included in the impressive start are wins over top-20 competition and three wins over NESCAC competition. Despite Bowdoin's high winning percentage, the team fell just short of being ranked in the top-20 in the most recent national poll. Tomorrow, Bowdoin plays host to Wesleyan at 1:00 p.m.
Bowdoin's two losses this season have come against intimidating competition. During the team's Spring Break trip to Orlando, Florida, the team experienced its first loss of the season, 11-15, to Nazareth, the second-ranked team in Division-III. Later that week, Bowdoin took on 20th-ranked Springfield, and lost, 10-6.
While Bowdoin has dropped two to elite competition, the team has also knocked off two of the top-20-ranked teams. Over Spring Break, Bowdoin convincingly defeated St. Lawrence, 11-6, a team that enters this week as the 19th-ranked team in the nation. Earlier this week, Bowdoin dealt third-ranked Tufts team its only loss of the year.
Bowdoin defeated conference foes Williams and Connecticut College in addition to Tufts. The Polar Bears have also defeated Union and Endicott this season.
Bowdoin is coming off a 9-5 record from last year, enough for a fifth-place finish in regular season NESCAC play. Matched up against third-place Amherst in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, however, Bowdoin fell just short of knocking off the Lord Jeffs, losing 6-5 and ending the team's season.
Bowdoin's team is led this season by three senior captains. Vinay Kashyap, Andrew O'Brien, and Phil Stern will try to fill the leadership gap left by the departure of last year's four skilled and dedicated captains. The team will need to replace the scoring of Ford Gurall, who finished second on the team in scoring last year. Bowdoin also lost an STX/USILA North-South All-Star in Austin Branson, as well as the devotion and strength of Joe Andrasko and Graham Jones.
Along with the team's captains, Bowdoin will rely on a pair of strong scoring juniors. Connor Fitzgerald led the team in goals, assists and total points last season, en route to Second Team All-NESCAC honors as a sophomore. Ford Barker '06 finished with 21 points last season, good for third on the team.
Fitzgerald and Barker have already posted impressive statistics this season. Fitzgerald leads the team again in points and appears destined for First Team All-NESCAC honors this year, with his 17 goals and 10 assists only halfway through the season. Barker has already surpassed his season points total for last season, posting 16 goals and six assists this year. Co-Captain Stern and Kevin Mullins '07 are tied at 13 points for third place on the team scoring list.
Bowdoin's strong start has earned it a place atop the NESCAC rankings, with its undefeated conference record. The league appears strong this year, though, as five teams hold overall records of two or fewer losses, including an 8-0 record from rival Bates. Five teams also are currently honored nationally with top-20 distinctions.
While Bates has excelled, the team to beat so far has been Tufts. The Jumbos enter this weekend as third-ranked in the nation, even with a 5-1 overall record. The team posts an outstanding 42 point scoring differential through six games.
Bowdoin enters its contest with Wesleyan with a three-game winning streak. Despite the fact that Wesleyan has a 0-3 record in conference play so far, the team is ranked 18th in the nation and should be a tough competitor for Bowdoin. The game starts at 1:00 p.m.
Afterwards, Bowdoin will travel to Vermont a week from tomorrow for a greatly anticipated match-up with seventh-ranked Middlebury, who also enters this weekend with an unblemished conference record. Get ready for some great lacrosse.