Field Hockey Falls to TCNJ in National Championship Game

Photos provided by Sideline Media
Photos provided by Sideline Media

LEXINGTON,  Va. -  The College of New Jersey scored a pair of first half goals and held off a furious second half rally by Bowdoin to win the 2014 NCAA Division III Championship on Sunday, 2-0, at Washington & Lee University.

The defending national champion Polar Bears finish a phenomenal season with a record of 19-3 and drop the national title match for the first time in five tries. TCNJ finishes at 23-1 and wins its national-record 11th Division III crown and first since 2011. Bowdoin had won the title in '07, '08,  '10 and '13 and were attempting to become the first team to win consecutive championships since they turned the trick in '07-'08.

Despite TCNJ controlling the opening ten minutes of the first half, it was Bowdoin who earned the first quality scoring opportunity of the game. After an offensive corner broke down, it was Rachel Kennedy who managed a shot on Kelly Schlupp that was denied as the goalie dropped to the ground. The Lions broke the Polar Bears defense in the 28th minute as Erin Healy collected a pass from just outside the circle and carried towards the end line. Healy made a quick pass from the right post up to Jaclyn Douglas who one-timed a sweep into the back of the cage. TCNJ doubled its lead five minutes later with Lexi Smith shooting from the top before Healy got a stick on the quick moving ball to give the Lions a 2-0 advantage at the break.

The second half opened with a slightly balanced play between the two sides, with Bowdoin again earning an early penalty corner opportunity. Following the initial insert, Colleen Finnerty passed right to Kelsey Mullaney who launched a shot on net that was deflected away. The Polar Bears successfully defended two more TCNJ corners to keep the Lions within reach.

Bowdoin's offense amped up over the final ten minutes of the game, earning seven penalty corners but never finding the back of the net. The Lions defense held strong, including two diving plays by Healy and a defensive save by Smith on a Finnerty drive that snuck behind netminder Schlupp.

Thanks to a 14-3 shot advantage in the second half, Bowdoin owned a 16-7 edge for the game. Schlupp made five saves in the second half and finished with six overall. Hannah Gartner made one save in the opening half and wasn't tested in the second period.

The loss ends an astounding 55-game winning streak for Bowdoin against non-conference opponents, dating back to a loss to Messiah on the same exact field at Washington & Lee in the 2005 NCAA Semifinals.