BRUNSWICK – From the outset of their first game in the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament, Bowdoin keyed in on playing with a high level of intensity and playing as a unit.

When the Polar Bears took a double-digit lead Wednesday early in the second half of a 16-5 victory over Babson at Harold F. Ryan Field, they didn’t sit back and enjoy the cushion.

Instead, they focused on maintaining their intensity.

“Possession was a huge factor,” said Bowdoin goalie Tara Connolly, who made 10 saves. “Once we knew we had the lead it was really important that we held onto the ball and we took time off the clock.

“That was real important for our strategy, and to maintain the momentum that we controlled for the entire game.”

Elizabeth Clegg also credited her team’s balanced attack in contributing in the win. Clegg paced the Polar Bears with four goals and was one of three Bowdoin players with at least three goals, joining Katie Herter and Carolyn Gorajek, who each scored three.

“That’s what I think makes our team so good,” Clegg said. “Every single game almost every attacker scores, and that’s what makes us so dangerous. We really work hard as a team, and it’s a team game.”

Ranked 11th in this week’s Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Division III top 20 poll, Bowdoin (15-3) qualified for the national tournament for the first time since 2006 by earning an at-large bid.

The Polar Bears will face Stevens Institute in a second-round game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

“They used their strength,” said Babson attack/midfielder Jamie Spang, a Kennebunk High graduate, who scored a goal. “They have a really deep bench and a lot of good athletes.

“We dug ourselves a hole and we couldn’t get out.”

Less than 15 minutes into the 30-minute first half, Bowdoin took a 6-0 lead before Babson’s Colleen Mulligan scored her first goal with 12:27 left in the first half, finally breaking through Connolly, whose defense had limited direct shots on goal and who made a handful of early saves to keep the game scoreless before Mulligan’s goal.

“It’s big, especially early in the game,” Connolly said of the early stops. “You want to establish that your team can maintain possession and deny them and keep your offense going.”

Katie Stewart scored two goals and Celeste Swain, Chelsea Albright, McKenna Teague and Katy Dissinger each added a goal for the Polar Bears, who led 10-2 at halftime.

Morgan Lockwood, Trisha Babson and Kristy Benoit each scored for Babson (10-8), and goalie Sarah Macary made 13 saves.

“It’s really fun to play a really good team, especially a team we haven’t played before because they’re not a NESCAC team,” Clegg said of Babson, which won the NEWMAC championship to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. “Babson played a really good game and it was so much fun to play against them.

“We’ve been working on transition and it really, really paid off in this game.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at:

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