GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – The Bowdoin College women’s lacrosse team continued its improbable run by knocking off top-ranked and previously unbeaten College of New Jersey 11-9 to reach the championship game of the NCAA Division III tournament at Adelphi University’s Motamed Field.

The 11th-ranked Polar Bears (18-3), who already had set a school record for victories in a season, will play seventh-ranked Gettysburg for the national title at 3 p.m. today.

Bowdoin fell behind 3-0 early against the Lions (20-1) and trailed 5-2 at halftime before taking charge in the second half.

Senior Katy Dissinger led the offense with four goals, all in the second half, while sophomore Carolyn Gorajek chipped in with three. Celeste Swain and Katie Stewart each contributed two goals apiece.

“I can’t even describe the feeling,” said Gorajek about playing for a national title. “It’s amazing.”

It was the Polar Bears’ second consecutive win against a previously undefeated team. They defeated second-ranked Trinity 9-6 in the quarterfinals, ending the Bantams’ season at 18-1.

“Beating Trinity in the quarters really gave us the confidence and the knowledge that we could beat anybody,” Gorajek said.

Bowdoin’s Tara Connolly was outstanding in goal, stopping 13 shots, including numerous point-blank attempts.

“She played really well,” said Coach Liz Grote, in her ninth year at Bowdoin. “She’s the type of kid that’s not going to stress out. Her motto is ‘calm and fun,’ and today it was a lot of fun to watch her play.”

Ultimately, the game was decided during the first 20 minutes of the second half, a stretch that saw Bowdoin outscore College of New Jersey 7-2 on its way to the win.

Dissinger got three of her goals during the deciding stretch.

“We talked about confidence at halftime, and really taking care of the ball,” said Grote, whose team committed just four second-half turnovers.

The Polar Bears used a strong zone defense to hold the Lions seven goals below their season average of 16. Grote said the zone defense has become the trademark of the team.

“Our zone played well today; it does make some teams uncomfortable and I thought it did that today.”

Grote set a school record with her 104th career victory.

“I had no idea it was even happening,” Grote said. “A reporter asked me about it recently and I had no clue.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. It’s been a really fun ride, and it’s been really fun to watch this team reach a level no (women’s lacrosse) team has ever reached at Bowdoin.”

Eight members of the team were on the school’s field hockey team that won a national title last fall.

“They got their rings on Monday and it sort of gave us a little additional motivation,” said Connolly, a sophomore.

Dissinger summed up the team’s win.

“Our motto all year has been ‘go big or go home.’ Today we had to go big and we did,” she said.


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