Amherst Falls to Bowdoin in NESCAC Quarterfinals, 3-0

AMHERST, MA – Sixth-seeded Bowdoin College earned a 3-0 win over third-seeded Amherst College Sunday afternoon in the 2009 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship quarterfinal round at Gooding Field. The Polar Bears (10-5, 4-5 NESCAC) advance to play top-seeded Trinity College Saturday, Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. in the semifinals, while the Lord Jeffs (11-4, 6-3 NESCAC) will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Bowdoin scored in the 7th, 15th and 51st minutes of the game and held a 12-4 advantage in shots. Scoring for the Polar Bears were sophomores Ella Curren (Roxbury, CT), Katie Herter (Topsfield, MA) and McKenna Teague (Cohasset, MA).

Amherst entered the game riding a six-game winning streak as the 15th-ranked team in Division III, while Bowdoin had lost two straight as the 12th-ranked team. As the four-time defending conference champions, the Polar Bears improved to 15-4 all-time in NESCAC Championship play. The Lord Jeffs are now 5-8 in conference tournament action and have been eliminated in the quarterfinal round in three consecutive years.

This year marked Amherst’s highest seeding in the NESCAC Championship since 2000 and the first time Bowdoin had been seeded lower than No. 2, but the Polar Bears looked sharp while avenging their 2-0 loss to Amherst from earlier this year.

NESCAC Logo

The visitors took charge from the opening whistle and needed only six minutes and three seconds to get on the scoreboard. Senior co-captain Shavonne Lord (Shrewsbury, MA) sent a penalty corner to Curren at the top of the circle, and the sophomore midfielder dribbled herself open for a shot. Curren’s attempt appeared to be saved by Amherst senior defender Tierney Healey (Moreland Hills, OH), but the ball crossed the goal line just enough to give the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead.

The Polar Bears added to their lead eight minutes later when they were awarded a penalty stroke. Herter lined up for the attempt and beat Amherst sophomore goalkeeper Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT) with a shoulder-high shot that made it a 2-0 game with 20:38 to play in the first half.

Bowdoin nearly scored a third goal in the final minute of the opening half, but junior Ingrid Oelschlager (Roanoke, VA) was denied by a nice save from Vitale at the doorstep. Curren followed with a hard shot from just inside the circle, but the ball went just wide of the cage past a sprawling Vitale. The visitors carried their 2-0 lead into halftime with a 10-2 edge in shots and an 8-3 advantage in corners.

The game’s final goal would come with 19:23 remaining in regulation when sophomore Elizabeth Clegg (Hudson, OH) assisted Teague to make it a 3-0 game. Clegg’s pass was deflected six feet in the air by an Amherst defender’s stick, but Teague was there on the far post to bat the ball out of midair and inside the post for an impressive goal.

Vitale made five saves for the Lord Jeffs, while junior Emily Neilson (Chatham, PA) stopped three shots for the Polar Bears. As the two-time defending national champion, Bowdoin is looking to qualify for yet another NCAA Tournament. Should the Lord Jeffs be selected as an at-large team, it would mark their first appearance in the national tournament since 2000. Selections will not be made until after next weekend’s conference championship.

BOX SCORE

2009 NESCAC Field Hockey Championships
Quarterfinal Round – Sunday, Nov. 1
No. 1 Trinity def. No. 8 Conn. College, 2-1
No. 2 Tufts def. No. 7 Wesleyan, 2-0
No. 6 Bowdoin def. No. 3 Amherst, 3-0
No. 5 Williams def. No. 4 Middlebury, 2-1

Semifinal Round – Saturday, Nov. 7 (at Trinity)
No. 1 Trinity vs. No. 6 Bowdoin (11 a.m.)
No. 2 Tufts vs. No. 5 Williams (1:30 p.m.)

Championship Game – Sunday, Nov. 8
Semifinal Winners (12 p.m.)