Kiersten Turner has a simple answer to the simple question of why a previously mediocre soccer team is succeeding. “We learned how to win last year.”

The Bowdoin College women’s soccer team takes a 7-1-1 record into a pair of Homecoming games this weekend against Hamilton and Williams. The Polar Bears have a four-game winning streak. All four victories were shutouts. In fact, six of Bowdoin’s seven wins have been shutouts. Opponents have been outscored 24-3. Sophomore goalie Bridget McCarthy has a 0.37 goals-against average.

“I think it’s confidence,” said Turner, a sophomore forward from Gorham. “We have great chemistry.”

The Polar Bears have only three seniors — midfielders Morgan Woodhouse (Portland, Waynflete) and Molly Popolizio (Rexford, N.Y.) and defender Becky Stoneman (Faribault, Minn.). Coach Brianne Weaver arrived only last year from St. Mary’s College of Maryland to take over a program that was 6-7-2 in 2010 and 6-6-3 in 2011.

The new coach and a team of new players and returnees hit the field running last season. Bowdoin won eight of its first nine games. Players who didn’t see themselves competing for the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship started believing.

Bowdoin beat Hamilton 3-2 in the conference quarterfinals. Then came the real trials by fire: three straight tie games. Bowdoin tied Amherst 3-3 in the semifinals on the road and won on penalty kicks. The Polar Bearst tied Williams 1-1 and lost the championship on penalty kicks.

Bowdoin earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs, tied Scranton 0-0 and won on penalty kicks. A 2-1 loss to Ithaca College in the second round finally ended a 11-4-4 season.

No wonder Turner and her returning teammates counted down the weeks to the 2013 preseason. “We’re not left wondering how we’re going to win games. We know how.”

Turner was named NESCAC Player of the Week after scoring a goal and assisting on a second in Bowdoin’s 3-0 win over previously unbeaten Trinity on Saturday. Turner scored in Bowdoin’s 6-0 nonconference win over the University of Southern Maine earlier in the week.

The quick, 5-foot-6 forward is second in NESCAC scoring with 17 points on seven goals and three assists. Fellow sophomore Jamie Hofstetter (Chester, N.J.) has 10 points.

“Our offense is so strong. Our whole team is balanced,” said Turner. “We don’t play only 11 players.”

Bowdoin is fourth in the competitive NESCAC standings with a 3-1-1 record, trailing Trinity (5-1), Middlebury (4-1 and the only team to beat Bowdoin) and Amherst (3-1-2).

The young Bowdoin men’s soccer team (four seniors) is 3-2-3 overall and 1-2-2 in conference play. Senior co-captain Zach Danssault (Solana Beach, Calif.) leads the team with three goals and five assists. Freshman Austin Downing (Scarborough) has five goals.

ST. JOSEPH’S

The men’s soccer team is tied with Lasell for the lead with 4-0 records in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. The Monks are 8-4-1 overall but had a seven-game winning streak snapped when they lost 3-0 to Eastern Connecticut State last week. St. Joseph’s won its next game, 3-1 over GNAC opponent Anna Maria. Senior Kyle Shangraw (Westbrook) leads the conference with 22 points on nine goals and four assists. Scott Benner (Post Falls, Idaho) has a 1.06 goals-against average.

St. Joseph’s is tied with Albertus Magnus for second place with 5-1 records in the women’s standings. Lasell (5-0-1) is first. The women had a seven-game overall win streak snapped Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Albertus Magnus. Danielle Daigle (Dayton) leads the team in scoring with 12 points on five goals and two assists. Jaci Lorenzen (Windham) has a 0.68 goals-against average.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

Junior midfielder Margaret Palmer (Scarborough) leads the Nor’easters women’s soccer team with four goals and an assist. UNE is 3-0-1 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference and 6-4-1 overall.

Sean Goodrich (Gorham, N.H.) is the men’s top scorer with five goals and an assist. The men are 5-5-2 overall and 0-3-1 in the conference.

SOUTHERN MAINE

Senior Jordan Grant (Concord, N.H.) is the women’s soccer leading scorer with seven goals and an assist. Grant may be better known as a starter on the basketball team. In soccer, the Huskies are 4-7-1 overall and 1-2 in the Little East Conference.

A young USM men’s team — two seniors — is winless in 13 games. Sophomore Michael Daniel (Rio de Janiero, Brazil) is the leading scorer with three goals and an assist.

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway