VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Bowdoin College field hockey team advanced to their fourth National Championship match in seven seasons with a 4-1 win over Christopher Newport on Friday afternoon.
Leading scorers Rachel Kennedy and Katie Riley each scored twice to lead the Polar Bears (17-3) over the Captains (21-2). Entering this weekend's game, Christopher Newport was third in the NCAA with a 0.71 goals against average and 11 shutouts. The four goals surrendered by the Captains were a season-high in goals allowed for the team.
The Polar Bears advance to the NCAA title match on Sunday morning at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex in Norfolk, Va beginning at 10:30 A.M. Bowdoin will face off with the winner of the Skidmore-Salisbury game that started at 2:00 p.m.
Christopher Newport took control of the game with an goal just 4:16 into the contest. Lauren Cheatham one-timed a cross pass into the left corner, giving the Captains an early 1-0 lead. Bowdoin answered immediately, only fifteen seconds later, as Riley popped the ball over goaltender Bailey Lien who had dropped to the ground trying to make a play on the incoming Polar Bear attack. Bowdoin took the lead with under five minutes remaining in the half, going up 2-1, on another goal from Riley. Bowdoin hit a hard shot from the top of the circle that bounced through the defense before Riley connected with the ball directly in front of the Captains' keeper. Riley looked for her third of the game with less than a minute to play, as she dribbled down the right side and rifled off a shot. Lien caught the ball on the inside of her pads and the ball deflected out of bounds as time wound down.
The Captains came out strong in the opening minutes of the second half, trying to even the score. Seven minutes into the frame, Christopher Newport earned a corner after sustained pressure in the Polar Bears' circle. Kicking the ball right after a clean insert, the Captains looked to score on an opposite post shot that eluded Bowdoin's defensive corner unit. Hannah Gartner made a diving save to her right and stayed on the ground to prevent Christopher Newport from poking in a loose ball and tying the game. A second corner was called in favor of the Captains, but the insert was mishandled and cleared into the midfield.
The misstep gave Bowdoin the momentum shift they need to regain possession and transition play back towards Christopher Newport's end. With 11:31 off the clock, Kennedy scored her first of the game and provided the Polar Bears a bit of breathing room and a two-goal lead. Olivia King's initial drive from the top of the circle was denied by Lien, but Kennedy recovered the rebound and buried Bowdoin's third of the game. Kennedy rounded out the day's scoring with less than two minutes remaining, as she spun around a defender and got off a quick shot to put the Polar Bears up 4-1 and seal the trip to the finals.
Bowdoin held a 14-6 edge in shots and 8-4 corner advantage. Lien finished with six saves for the Captains, while Gartner had a pair for Bowdoin.