MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Rachel Kennedy scored the game's only goal in the second half to give the Bowdoin College field hockey team a 1-0 win over Montclair State University in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon.
Bowdoin returns to the Division III "Final Four" after a one-year absence and will be making their seventh trip to the NCAA Semifinals in the last nine years. The Polar Bears claimed the Division III title in 2007, '08 and '10.
The Polar Bears (16-3) will battle Christopher Newport in the national semifinals on Friday. Game times, ticket information and live coverage will be announced on Monday. Top-ranked Montclair State (21-2) finished 2012 as the Division III runners-up.
Bowdoin pressured Montclair's defense early with a near miss in the opening four minutes. Katie Riley carried the ball down the right side and sent a crossing pass towards Emily Simonton in front of the net. Montclair's Rebecca Brattole made a diving attempt on the pass, allowing Simonton time and space to launch an aerial over the prone goalie. Unfortunately, the shot cleared the crossbar, leaving the game scoreless. With 27 minutes showing on the clock, Bowdoin's Rachel Kennedy entered into a one-on-one with Brattole, who met Kennedy at the top of the circle with a slide tackle to deny any real shot opportunity. The teams walked away from the first half deadlocked at zero.
The Polar Bears continued to pressure the Red Hawks' defense in the second half. Fifteen minutes into the frame, Bowdoin was knocking on the door once more. Kennedy sent a pass across to the left post where Simonton was waiting for the tip but redirected the ball just wide.
The Polar Bears finally solved the Montclair defense 51 minutes into the game off a penalty corner. Riley inserted to the top for a hard shot from Olivia King. Rachel Kennedy caught the ball with a reverse stick tip to change the direction, slipping it between the goalies legs for the 1-0 lead. Montclair pressured Bowdoin's defense in the final five minutes, holding the ball below the Polar Bears' 25 with repeated shots and free hits. The Red Hawks forced Bowdoin's Hannah Gartner to make two pivotal saves in the last two minutes. Montclair earned their final corner of the game with 30 seconds showing on the clock rifling off a shot on net, which Gartner made a play on. Kim Kahnweiler cleared the rebound out of the circle as the horn blew.
Bowdoin held a decisive 12-7 edge in shots, resulting in six saves from Brattole and four from Gartner. The Polar Bears held an 8-5 advantage in corners.
Photos courtesy of Marcello Cutti Jr./SMI Sports