The field hockey team suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in last Sunday’s NESCAC championship game against Middlebury on Howard F. Ryan Field, surrendering the go-ahead goal with only 26 seconds remaining. Despite the loss, the No. 3 Polar Bears received an at-large bid to the NCAA D-III Tournament and a first-round bye, and will host a second-round game against Mount Holyoke tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Bowdoin and Middlebury have met in the last four NESCAC championship games, with Middlebury winning the last three.

On Saturday, the Polar Bears defeated Tufts 2-1 in the semifinal game. Bowdoin had beaten Tufts 4-0 on October 29, but the Jumbos looked much improved in the semifinal.

“Against Tufts, we created a lot of opportunities,” said Head Coach Nicky Pearson.  “We played solid defensively, and the team showed a lot of determination—particularly in the second half—to find a way to win.”

This determination allowed the team to come back from a one-goal deficit at halftime. Captain Colleen Finnerty ’15 then tied the game two minutes into the second half on a penalty stroke, shooting high to the left corner to beat Tufts’ goalkeeper, who saved two other penalty strokes in the game.  

Mettler Growney ’17 scored 13 minutes later, giving Bowdoin a lead it maintained for the rest of the game.

This was the third consecutive season Tufts and Bowdoin played each other in the NESCAC semifinals.

“[Tufts is] always one of our toughest games of the season. [The game] probably wasn’t considered our best game of the season, but we got the job done,” said captain Pam Herter ’15.
Sunday’s loss against Middlebury was in many ways the inverse of the the Polar Bears’ defeat of the Panthers earlier this season. When the two teams met on September 20 in Middlebury, Vermont, the Panthers took an early lead before the Polar Bears scored twice in the last few minutes of the game.  

On Sunday, Bowdoin took an early lead off a goal from Rachel Kennedy ’16. This time it was Middlebury who scored two second-half goals, including the last-gasp strike that was almost “writing on the wall,” according to Herter.

“We knew it was going to be a really emotional game,” Herter said.  “They were fired up, we were fired up.”

Even though Bowdoin lost, Herter said the game was one of the best of the season. Bowdoin maintained control for much of the game, limiting the Panthers to only a few opportunities on Bowdoin’s goal, according to Pearson.

“[The team] did incredibly well.  [I’m] really proud of it,” said Pearson.

The Polar Bears, the defending NCAA D-III champions, are seeded fourth in the tournament. Bowdoin and Middlebury, seeded second behind Salisbury, are the only NESCAC schools to earn spots in the NCAA tournament this year.

“There’s a chance we could see [Middlebury] in the NCAA finals,” Herter said. “That would be a dream matchup.”

This week, the team will be working hard to prepare for the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, which will be hosted at Bowdoin on Saturday and Sunday.

“[Coach Pearson] always makes a huge emphasis on focusing on ourselves and on our game no matter who our opponent is,” said Herter.  “I think we’re definitely going to learn from this [past] weekend, but we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season working hard at practice [and] not changing our style for any other team.”

If the Polar Bears beat Mount Holyoke on Saturday, they will play the winner of the game between Skidmore and FDU-Florham, also  being played on Ryan Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
“[This weekend] we’re going to have to put together the best games all season,” said Pearson.