Polar Bears Finish Regular Season Unbeaten With 2-1 Victory Over Tufts

Courtesy of www.CIPhotography.com
Courtesy of www.CIPhotography.com

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Cathleen Smith scored the game-winning goal to give Bowdoin its fourth perfect regular season in program history in a 2-1 win over Tufts on Wednesday evening at Ryan Field.

In a battle of nationally-ranked foes, the second-ranked Polar Bears improve to 14-0 (10-0 NESCAC) and will be the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. Bowdoin will host eighth-seeded Hamilton in a quarterfinal match on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The 13th-ranked Jumbos (11-3, 7-3 NESCAC) will the fourth seed and will also host a quarterfinal match on Saturday afternoon against a to-be-determined opponent.

After back-and-forth play in the early going, Bowdoin's Ella Curren broke the deadlock on a Polar Bear penalty corner with under five minutes left in the opening half. Curren took the entry feed from McKenna Teague and ripped a low, hard drive from the right wing that skipped past Tufts goaltender Mariana Zak for a 1-0 Bowdoin lead at intermission.

Tufts responded with early pressure in the second half and Bowdoin first-year Hannah Gartner stood tall in her first career start, making several saves to preserve the Polar Bear lead. Tufts was finally able to break through with 24:58 remaining, when Brittany Norfleet found Kelsey Perkins alone in front. Perkins tapped the ball over a diving Gartner to tie the score at one apiece.

Six minutes later, Bowdoin answered when Liz Clegg kept the ball in the circle on the right wing and slid the ball through traffic to the waiting stick of Smith. Smith slipped the ball past Zak to give Bowdoin a 2-1 edge with 18:56 to go.

Gartner held off several late attempts by Tufts and finished with seven saves. Zak made four saves in the loss for the Jumbos. Thanks to 10 second-half shots and 10 second-half corners, the Tufts held a 12-8 shot advantage and 10-6 lead in penalty corners for the game.

With the victory, the Polar Bears completed the fourth undefeated regular season in school history, joining the 1972, 2005 and 2007 squads who also finished regular season play without a loss. Bowdoin celebrated its five seniors in a pregame ceremony. The quintet were playing their final regular season home contest on Wednesday evening.