May 21, 2011

Semifinal Stunner: Late Rally Tips TCNJ, Bowdoin To Play For Title

GARDEN CITY, N.J. - Bowdoin's dramatic run through the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament continued on Saturday as the Polar Bears knocked off their second unbeaten team in a row, defeating The College of New Jersey 11-9 in the national semifinals. The Polar Bears (18-3) advance to the national championship game Sunday against Gettysburg at 3:00 p.m.

The Polar Bears scored nine times in the second half, bouncing back from a 5-2 halftime deficit, to saddle the  top-ranked Lions (20-1) with their first loss of the campaign. Senior co-captain Katy Dissinger all four of her goals in the dramatic second-half run. Carolyn Gorajek added three goals, including the go-ahead goal with 11:39 to go for the Polar Bears, while Celeste Swain and Katie Stewart accounted for the other Bowdoin goals with two apiece. Tara Connolly was outstanding, making 13 saves in the win.

TCNJ stymied the Bowdoin offense in the early going, and jumped to an early 3-0 lead thanks to a pair of Alex Spark goals. Gorajek got Bowdoin on the board midway through the period and the teams traded goals for the remainder of the half as the Lions carried a 5-2 edge into intermission.

The squads traded scores again to open the second period before Dissinger connected on two-straight scores to spark a 3-0 Bowdoin run that tied the game at six on a Gorajek tally at 19:15. Alison Jaeger regained the lead for TCNJ at 13:59, but Swain replied for Bowdoin at 12:12 with a free position goal to tie the game at seven piece and key a 3-goal burst for Bowdoin in just 1:57.

Gorajek and Dissinger ripped off consecutive scores to put the Polar Bears ahead for good at 10:15 and, after a Kathleen Notos score, Stewart and Dissinger put the game on ice with goals to give Bowdoin an 11-8 lead with 7:06 to play. Notos was able to make it 11-9 at the 5:38 mark and TCNJ had two chances in the final minute to try and tighten the two-goal deficit, but Jaeger was stopped from close range by Connolly and Notos fired a shot from in front of the cage high.

Leigh Mitchell, Notos and Spark had two goals apiece in the loss for the Lions. Bowdoin was led by Stewart's three caused turnovers and Swain's three ground balls. Dissinger also had three draw controls in the victory.

Bowdoin held the high-scoring TCNJ offense to its second-lowest goal total of the season and fewest tallies in its last eight games. Bowdoin's 11 goals were the second-most scored by a team against the Lions this season, trailing only Franklin & Marshall in the regional finals last weekend.

Fans can follow all of Sunday's action on the web, as the NCAA will provide a live video webcast and live statistics coverage of the game at the this link.

The victory gives Bowdoin coach Liz Grote her 104th career win, moving her past long-time coach Sally LaPointe for the top spot on the program's all-time list. Sunday's game will be the fifth NCAA title game in any sport in Bowdoin school history (2004 women's basketball and 2007, '08, '10 field hockey).

Photos courtesy of David Pokress.