BRUNSWICK, Maine - Rachel Kennedy scored with four minutes remaining in the first overtime to lift the Bowdoin College field hockey team to a 2-1 win over Skidmore and punch the Polar Bears' second straight ticket to the NCAA Final Four.
The defending national champion Polar Bears (18-2) advance to their eighth Final Four in the last ten years and improve to 26-7 all-time in tournament action. The Thoroughbreds season ends at 17-4 after making their eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance and 14th overall.
Skidmore put Bowdoin in a quick hole, scoring 5:05 into the opening frame, following pressure in the circle off a penalty corner. Leading scorer Dani DeGregory connected with a loose ball as it came across cage to the right post and put her team up 1-0. Seeley Fancher almost added another Thoroughbred goal in the 20th minute as she had an open look from the left post. Meredith Tibbals came up with a big mid-air defensive save to keep Skidmore from doubling its lead. Colleen Finnerty saw her bid to tie the game clink off the left post with five minutes left in the period.
Bowdoin leveled the score with just 13:36 remaining, finally besting Skidmore keeper Amy Beck after twelve shot attempts. Pam Herter broke away down the left side of the field, chasing the ball down as it was inches from the end line, and made a reverse stick pass to Kennedy who one-timed it for the equalizer. Bowdoin continued to apply pressure with several threatening scoring opportunities, including a give and go between Kennedy and Adrienne O'Donnell that was broken up by a diving Beck with under ten to play. Skidmore came right back down the field, earning a penalty corner with four minute remaining, only to have Colleen Finnerty stop a line drive at the goal mouth.
With the teams knotted at 1-1, fifteen minutes were put on the clock for a sudden-victory overtime period. Bowdoin pressured early, earning a penalty corner only one minute into play, and saw another shot bounce off the post at 10:38 from O'Donnell. Again, the Thoroughbreds stormed back down the field and earned six consecutive penalty corners and directed three shots on Gartner.
Finally earning the call for a sixteen yard hit, Finnerty quickly connected with Kennedy at midfield. With no Skidmore defenders between herself and the circle, the junior forward kicked into gear and drew Beck into a one-on-one. The senior goalie laid out, forcing Kennedy to make a big pull to the right. Kennedy maintained control and slid a hard shot to the far left corner as the Bowdoin bench erupted 11:13 into overtime.
Beck made 17 total saves for the Thoroughbreds, including 11 in the second half. Gartner stopped six total shots for Bowdoin, coming up big with three saves in overtime. The Polar Bears outshot Skidmore 29-11, with the Thoroughbreds holding an 11-10 edge in corners.
Bowdoin will travel to the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington, Virginia for next weekend's Final Four. The Polar Bears will face Salisbury University in rematch of last year's National Championship game. More information will be announced on Monday.