On the five-hour bus ride back to Bowdoin College last weekend from Vermont, Coach Marissa O’Neil heard silence when she might have heard happy chatter. Her hockey team had just won the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2004.
Where was the celebration? Buried in texts and papers. Mid-semester exams were at hand this week, and at Bowdoin that’s usually a sobering thought.
Another test awaits the players Saturday night when Elmira plays Bowdoin in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III women’s tournament. Flunk, and Bowdoin’s women can join their fellow students on spring break. Pass, and there’s another week of practice.
“At this time of year, more of my players are in the training room getting iced,” said O’Neil. “It’s a long season but this is what we play for.”
Not that she’s hearing any complaints. Her players still have bounce in their legs. That the Bowdoin men are also in the NCAA tournament and play Utica in New York on Saturday night has created a special mindset as one team gives way to the other at the rink for practice. Although the Bowdoin situation is not unique this postseason; Vermont’s Norwich University and St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin also have both teams in the tournament.
“There’s an overwhelming sense of pride. We started off slow but then both teams were moving up in the national polls,” said O’Neil.
Senior captains Katye Holtz (New Berlin, Wis.), a three-time NESCAC first-team all-star, and Stephanie Ludy (Shrewsbury, Mass.) helped provide poise and maturity as the team rose.
O’Neil grew up in Manchester, N.H., and came to Bowdoin as a schoolgirl to get a degree while playing field hockey and hockey. She left to coach at Amherst and at Williams, and returned in 2010. She has a quick team that moves the puck well. That will contrast with Elmira’s strengths of playing physical hockey and taking big shots from the point.
Bowdoin has home ice. It typically draws larger crowds than other women’s programs. O’Neil wouldn’t be surprised to see 500 or 600 fans Saturday night.
n Bowdoin’s Coby Horowitz (Stow, Mass.), Sam Seekins (South China, Erskine Academy) and Erin Silva (Westborough, Mass.) are in Naperville, Ill., this weekend for the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championship meet at North Central College. Horowitz qualified in the mile with a season-best time of 4:10.01, the second-best in Division III this year. He will compete Friday in a preliminary race that will cut the field for Saturday’s final. Seekins was the final qualifier in the 5,000 meters with his time of 14:37.45 from earlier this season.
The men’s 5,000 meters will be run Saturday. Silva will be seeded 11th nationally in the pole vault.
ST. JOSEPH’S COLLEGE
Women’s basketball senior forward Alyssa Grigware (Biddeford), men’s basketball junior forward James Philbrook (Auburn) and women’s swimming senior Christine Cote (Biddeford) were selected, by vote of their teammates, to represent Saint Joseph’s on the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Teams for their respective sports.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE
Junior Sheldon Allen (Charlestown, Mass.), and sophomores Kevin Desmond (Monmouth Academy) and Jamie Ruginski (Buxton, Bonny Eagle) are at the NCAA Division III track and field championships. Allen qualified for the 60-meter hurdles. Desmond will run in the 800 meters. Ruginski will compete in the triple jump. … Senior tri-captain Nicole Garland (Portland, Deering High) was named to the ECAC Division III New England all-star second team. The ECAC recognition was the first for Garland, who was also named to the All-Little East Conference and Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (MWBCA) first teams. … Senior captains Peter Gilman (Alfred, Massabesic) and Logan Russell (Bath, Morse), and sophomore Michael Arangio (Wakefield, Mass.) received Pilgrim Wrestling League All-Star honors. Gilman, wrestling at 149 pounds this season, finished his career with an 87-30 record for a 74.3 winning percentage. He is a repeat first-team all-star. Russell (157 pounds) was 24-8 this season, leading his team in total wins and points (100). His 14 pins this season led the team. He finished his career with a 90-67 record. Arangio (125) was second to Russell with 11 pins and 92 team points in his first season.
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: