BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College field hockey team rallied from a one-goal halftime deficit to defeat Tufts, 2-1, in the semifinals of the NESCAC Tournament on Saturday at Ryan Field.
The top-seeded Polar Bears (16-1) advance to the NESCAC Championship match for the fifth consecutive season, where they will play the winner of Middlebury and Trinity at noon on Sunday. The Jumbos (12-5) likely end their season with the loss.
Tufts grabbed the early lead on Saturday, taking advantage of the first penalty corner of the game. A give-and-go by the Jumbos bounced around and came to the stick of Dakota Sikes-Kelip, who knocked home the ball on the doorstep to give Tufts a 1-0 advantage just 2:50 into the contest. Tufts had a great chance to add to their lead ten minutes into the match, but a shot from the left side by Sikes-Kelip, that appeared destined for the back of the net, was swept aside by Colleen Finnerty, preserving the one-goal deficit.
Bowdoin had a chance to even the score moments later, but Tufts goaltender Bri Keenan saved a penalty stroke by Rachel Kennedy to keep it 1-0 Jumbos at halftime. It marked just the second time all season that Bowdoin had trailed at the break.
It didn't take long for the Polar Bears to knot the score after intermission, as Bowdoin earned another penalty stroke as a Tufts defender committed a foul on the line. Colleen Finnerty buried the stroke just 1:39 into the second frame. Bowdoin continued to pressure the Jumbos, and found the go-ahead marker 13 minutes later, as Mettler Growney slipped the ball towards to Tufts goal from the left wing. The ball skipped through traffic and found the lower-right corner to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage with 20:19 to go.
Kennan kept her team in it with several strong saves in the second period, including another Bowdoin penalty stroke opportunity with 4:25 remaining. Tufts' best bid to force overtime came as time expired, as they earned a penalty corner in the closing seconds. The Jumbos mishandled the entry pass, however, and the Polar Bears claimed the one-goal victory.
Keenan played valiantly in the loss for Tufts, making 13 saves in all. Hannah Gartner faced just two shots on goal and made one save in the win for Bowdoin.
This marked the third straight season the teams had met in the NESCAC semifinals. With the victory, Bowdoin improves to 7-0 all-time against Tufts in conference tournament play.