LEXINGTON, Va. – The Bowdoin field hockey team used a pair of first half goals to advance to its second consecutive National Championship, and fifth overall, after downing top-ranked Salisbury 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Washington & Lee.
The third-ranked Polar Bears improve to 19-2 overall record after handing top-ranked Salisbury (19-2) only its second loss of the season. Bowdoin now holds a 2-0 all-time record against the Seagulls after coming away a 1-0 victory in last year's NCAA Championship match. The Polar Bears will face The College of New Jersey, a 2-0 winner over Middlebury, in the 2014 final on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Kennedy put the Polar Bears on the board 10:51 into the opening half, scoring her second career goal against the Seagulls, by charging through the Salisbury defense on the left side. Beating a pair of defenders Kennedy faced Rachel Clewer as she dropped into a slide tackle, denying the initial shot. Bearing down on the pads, Kennedy quickly located the ball and put it away to the right corner. Kennedy's goal put her at 32 on the season, matching the single-season Bowdoin record set by Lindsay McNamara in 2008. Clewer denied another Bowdoin bid by going down to defend a shot from Kimmy Ganong that trickled past the goalie, only to have the loose ball scooped up by Breck Sullivan and carried out of the circle.
Bowdoin increased its lead to two off Mettler Growney's second goal of the season with just over ten to play in the first half. After making a pass into the circle, Growney had the ball returned to her at the top and ripped a shot through traffic into Salisbury's net. Kelsey Mullaney ran down a possible Seagulls breakaway in the sixth minute, getting her body around and inside of the Salisbury player and sending the ball back out to the fifty. With just 2:09 remaining in the half, Salisbury finally broke through Bowdoin's defense and cut the lead to one. Following a penalty corner, the Seagulls were able to collect a rebound and pass around to the left post for another attempt on net. Mullaney came up with her team leading fifth defensive save of the season only to see Becca Rinaca track down the next rebound and stuff the ball into Bowdoin's cage, trimming the Polar Bears lead.
While the Polar Bears mustered 16 shots in the opening half, the team managed only three in the second frame as both teams were held to back-and-forth midfield play. Salisbury challenged the Bowdoin defense with four shots in the opening 35 and a pair in the second half. Bowdoin held a slight 5-4 edge in penalty corners, with Clewer making ten saves for the Seagulls as Hannah Gartner stopped two on the opposite end.
Bowdoin advances to the NCAA Division III National Championship for the fifth time in program history and will play TCNJ for just the second time in school history, having claimed the only other meeting, 2-0, in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.