Champions Again! Field Hockey Wins Third NCAA Title in Strokes

Champions Again! Field Hockey Wins Third NCAA Title in Strokes

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College field hockey team won a penalty-stroke shootout to claim their third NCAA Division III Championship, 2-1, over Messiah College on Sunday afternoon. McKenna Teague notched the game-winner as the Polar Bears (20-1) claimed the shootout by a 3-1 margin. It is the third NCAA title in the last four years for Bowdoin.

Tied at one apiece after regulation and two overtimes, the first two penalty stroke chances for each team were unsuccessful. In the top of the third round of the best-of-five, Emily French snapped a shot to the lower-left corner. After Messiah converted on their third round chance to tie strokes at one apiece, Kassey Matoin converted inside the left post to give Bowdoin a 2-1 edge. Messiah missed their fourth-round chance, giving Bowdoin the opportunity to seal the win. Teague stepped up and deposited the game-winner to the lower-right corner to give the Polar Bears the national championship.

Bowdoin carried a one-goal lead into intermission when Ella Curren ripped a feed from Katie Herter into the right corner just 1:57 before halftime. Messiah evened the score after a flurry of chances in the 62nd minute when Emily Hursh redirected a hard shot from Natalie Ziegler to tie the game with just 8:52 left in regulation. Messiah had the best opportunity to put the game away in overtime, but Bowdoin's Brooke Phinney made a clutch defensive save to preserve Bowdoin's national title hopes.

Neilson was outstanding, making seven saves to earn the win in net for the Polar Bears, and also stopped a pair in the penalty stroke shootout. Kayleigh Stewart stopped six shots for Messiah.

The win caps a sensational career for Bowdoin seniors Shannon Malloy, Ingrid Oelschlager, Jessie Small, Phoebe McCarthy, Michaela Calnan and Emily Neilson, who establish themselves as one of the most successful classes in Division III Field Hockey history. The six-member class won three NCAA titles in their four seasons and never lost a game in NCAA tournament play (12-0). Additionally, the Polar Bears earn a measure of revenge against the Falcons - the team that defeated Bowdoin twice in the NCAA semifinals, in 2005 and 2006.

Oelschlager, Malloy, Neilson and Herter were named to the All-Tournament team.

Photos courtesy of Stacy Whiting Photography

Postgame quotes

Head Coach Nicky Pearson
"First of all, it's just an unbelievable privilege to win a championship – something we don't take for granted and Messiah played very well today, but I am also very proud of my team. They hung in there and found the way to win; I am always very proud of their determination."

On winning three championships in four years:
"It's very simple. It's unbelievably simple. The success of the program is 100% due to the determination and dedication of the student‐athlete."
On whether or not Bowdoin can be considered a Dynasty:
"It's like I said, it's a privilege – especially when you stand on the field next to a coach like Jan Trapp, who has been here for so many championships, so many tournaments. You feel like a young coach next to her and how many successful years she has had. I give all the credit to my athletes. I think everybody in the field hockey community has great respect for Trapp and what she's done over an extended period of time. I feel like anyone not affiliated with Bowdoin wanted them to win today because they feel she deserves it."

On Bowdoin's defense:
"It's a mentality and a belief that your opponents are not going to score. The defenders know that they have to do everything they can to stop that team. We are good at reading what a team is about to do."

Junior Forward McKenna Teague
On Penalty Strokes and the Pressure involved:
"It was a little nerve‐wracking, but Coach just told us to picture us back at home in Brunswick, at home with nobody watching. That definitely made us feel better. I was really nervous and wasn't thinking too much about what was really happening; I didn't even realize we were up 2‐1 at the time of my stroke, I didn't know mine was the winner. But I just took it and it went in and the team came all around me."

Senior Goalkeeper Emily Neilson
On the game:
"We knew Messiah would bring their best game, but I knew our 'D' was ready for it. And you know what, we were really excited to play against them – we were honored to play against their attack."

 On stopping the first two strokes:
"To tell you the truth, I don't know [whether it's just a guess or not]. At that point, it's a metaphysical experience or something like that. It's just you, the ball and cat‐like reflexes, hopefully. My size probably does give me an advantage."

On winning her third national championship:
"I would say [this one is different]. The first two were freshman and sophomore years and I played under a wonderful friend and mentor. I owe a lot to [Emileigh Mercer]. She gave me advice coming in to this tournament. She told me to make each save look easy and make the hard saves look like child's play and just take it from there, and I did."

On capping off her career:
"My four years playing hockey at Bowdoin were the most special years to me in my career in athletics all together and college all together. I have 20 best friends on the team that I know I will be in touch with all of my life. We are a network of people tied to and connected by something that we love."