Three field hockey teams from Maine have earned bids to the NCAA Division III championships, which open with first round games Wednesday.

There’s Bowdoin, the 2007 and 2008 national champion, which will try to reclaim glory after missing the tournament in 2009.

There’s the University of New England, which earned the program’s first NCAA bid with a win over New England College in The Commonwealth Coast Conference title game.

And there’s Husson, making its second straight appearance in the tournament. Husson knocked off St. Joseph’s in the North Athletic Conference final to earn an automatic berth.

“We are absolutely excited. It’s so hard to get in every year,” said Bowdoin Coach Nicky Pearson. “And so whenever you are afforded that opportunity, it’s such a privilege.”

Bowdoin (16-1) received a first-round bye and will host a regional this weekend. The Polar Bears will play Saturday against Husson or Babson. The regional final is Sunday, with the winner advancing to the national semifinals.

Bowdoin’s only loss was against Tufts in its final regular-season game on Oct. 29, but the Polar Bears avenged that defeat Sunday, beating the Jumbos 3-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship game. Tufts and Middlebury earned at-large bids from the NESCAC.

“I think the team has definitely grown in confidence as the season has gone on,” said Pearson. “On Sunday, it was our best game of the year. I just felt like they were on a mission. They knew it was going to be a tough game, but showed a lot of resilience and confidence in one another.”

The Polar Bears have 11 players from the 2008 championship team, including six seniors who won national titles as freshmen and sophomores.

“Our class was here for the first two national championships, so in a way that has been the standard for us,” said senior midfielder Ingrid Oelschlager. “We really wanted our senior year to be as great, if not better than those first two years. It really means the world to us.”

Bowdoin has allowed only six goals in its last 16 games, and the Polar Bears use their speed to attack opposing defenses.

“We try to put our opponents under immense defensive pressure. It’s something we hope is a trademark,” said Oelschlager.

UNE, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the national stage.

The Nor’easters went 13-6 and won the TCCC title with a 3-0 victory over New England College.

The Nor’easters will hit the road for their first-round game at 2 p.m. Wednesday against The College of New Jersey.

“We went into the (TCCC title game) as the underdogs,” said Jane Hurt, UNE’s first-year coach. “There was a lot of strength, character, pride and passion going on out there. I think they wholeheartedly deserve the result they got.”

UNE planned to bus to New Jersey today and practice on the turf field tonight.

“My main job will be to try and get them to be mentally prepared,” said Hurt. “I don’t want them to freeze. If they play the way they have in the last couple of games, it’ll be a good competition.”

Hurt said the team’s turning point was a come-from-behind win over Bridgewater State on Oct. 26. The Nor’easters rallied from a 3-1 deficit, winning 4-3.

“It was like ‘Wow, we can do this’ for the team. It was a turning point,” said Hurt. “It’s the believing. They’ve got that belief now.”

Husson (10-5) also will be on the road Wednesday against Babson (15-5).

BOWDOIN

The men’s soccer team (13-1-3) earned a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament and will host Eastern Connecticut State or Nichols in a second-round game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Eddie Prior of Scarborough, Tim Jones and Michael Gale lead the team in scoring with six goals apiece.

n The football team, having won a wild 21-20 game over rival Bates on Saturday, will try to win the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) championship when it finishes its season Saturday at Colby. Bowdoin has either won the CBB title outright or shared it each of the previous four years.

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

Football Coach Jack Cosgrove said during Monday morning’s Colonial Athletic Association conference call that running back Jared Turcotte is “doubtful” for the remainder of the season.

Maine (3-6) is at Towson on Saturday and wraps up the season Nov. 20 with a home game against James Madison.

“Jared has been managing a number of injuries. I’m very, very doubtful about his situation with us right now,” said Cosgrove. “He’s seeing the doctor (today) when we have our medical meetings. We’ll know better where he is in terms of this week and next.”

Backup running back Pushaun Brown gained 141 yards Saturday in a 39-24 loss at Massachusetts: “Push has played second fiddle to Jared for a number of years. He really responded well on Saturday. He played very well for three quarters, and then he got worn down. We really leaned on him.”

n Hockey defenseman Will O’Neill will be out 4-6 weeks after sustaining a lower-body injury in Saturday’s 2-2 tie at Boston University. O’Neill sustained the injury on his second shift of the game, forcing Maine to go with five defenseman.

Prior to the injury, O’Neill had a goal and four assists in the Black Bears’ first eight games, and primarily ran the point on the power play, which enters this weekend’s two-game series against Northeastern as the top-ranked unit in Hockey East (13 for 57, 22.8 percent).

The men’s and women’s basketball teams open their seasons this weekend. The men, picked No. 3 in the America East preseason coaches poll, travel to Utah Valley State on Friday and then to Maryland on Sunday. The Maryland game will be on NESN at 2 p.m.

The women host Harvard at noon Saturday.

SO. MAINE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

The men’s basketball team is 3-0 heading into tonight’s doubleheader against Maine Maritime, and the women’s basketball team is 2-1. The women tip off at 5:30 p.m., and the men follow at 7:30.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

The Nor’easters volleyball team (20-11) earned the No. 6 seed for the ECAC New England championships and will travel to No. 3 Plymouth State for a quarterfinal match at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

It will be the team’s second appearance in the ECAC championship in the last three seasons.

n The men’s hockey begins its second season in ECAC East with a game Nov. 18 at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.

UNE, coached by Brad Holt, will play a total of 19 conference games, including games against 2010 NCAA tournament qualifiers Bowdoin and Middlebury.

ST. JOSEPH’S

Senior midfielder Paul Robins, senior back Joe Happnie and sophomore forward Jack LaFreniere were named to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference all-star teams. Robins and LaFreniere were named to the first team, Happnie to the second team.

Senior midfielder Elizabeth Theberge was named to the women’s second team.

Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Hawkes of Pownal was chosen to GNAC volleyball all-conference third team.

The field hockey team, which lost to Husson in the North Atlantic Conference final, landed five players on the All-NAC first team, including the player of the year, Courtney Rague of Old Orchard Beach.

Coach Rupert Lewis was named NAC coach of the year. The other first-team all-stars were senior forward Kayla Nowell of Bridgton, senior defender Alyssa Dunn of Standish, junior midfielder Sarah Bartell, and junior goalie Meaghan Johnson of Portland.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete Saturday at the NCAA Division III New England regional in Williamstown, Mass.

The men’s race begins at 11 a.m., the women’s race at noon.

Sophomore Molly Carl of York had a team-high sixth place finish in the Little East Conference and New England Alliance championships Saturday in Paxton, Mass.

She ran the 5,000-meter course in 19 minutes, 27.2 seconds.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]