BRUNSWICK

Coming off a grueling New England Small College Athletic Conference championship loss to Middlebury in penalty strokes on Sunday, the Bowdoin College field hockey team entered Wednesday’s NCAA Division III first round contest against State University of New York/New Paltz at Ryan Field with the hopes the regular season prepared the Polar Bears well.

Bowdoin appears ready as it aims for its fourth D-III field hockey title in six years after a dominating 6-1 victory over the Hawks, the champions of the New York Athletic Conference, on a crisp, windy night.

The Polar Bears (15-3) outshot NCAA Tournament first-timer New Paltz 18-2 and reeled off the first five goals to make it look easy.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE FORWARD Katie Riley (17, top photo) gets around SUNY New Paltz goaltender Antonija Pjetri to score a first-half goal in the Polar Bears’ 6-1 victory in an NCAA Division III field hockey first round contest in Brunswick on Wednesday. In the bottom photo, Bowdoin’s Brooke Phinney prepares to unleash a shot during a penalty corner.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE FORWARD Katie Riley (17, top photo) gets around SUNY New Paltz goaltender Antonija Pjetri to score a first-half goal in the Polar Bears’ 6-1 victory in an NCAA Division III field hockey first round contest in Brunswick on Wednesday. In the bottom photo, Bowdoin’s Brooke Phinney prepares to unleash a shot during a penalty corner.

Now, Bowdoin is scheduled to visit Geneva, N.Y., on the campus of William Smith College for a secondround matchup with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Saturday at 2 p.m. The host Herons entertain Tufts at 11 a.m., with the winners meeting in the quarterfinals on Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We played MIT last year (a 3-0 Bowdoin win in the quarterfinals) and are aware they are a very good team. But, I believe the focus is on us. We play our game, I like our chances,” said Polar Bears coach Nicky Pearson, who believes her team is dreaming of another national title. “As soon as we knew we had been selected for the tournament, the absolute goal needs to be to win it. The fact that we played Middlebury so well on Sunday, the number one team in the country, shows that if we can play with the top team, you have to dream about a national championship.”

“That game (Middlebury) didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but we are now on to the next chapter of our season,” said Bowdoin forward Katie Riley, who scored three goals in Wednesday’s victory. “We are focusing on winning one game at a time now and seeing how far it takes us.”

Big save

The Hawks (16-5) had the first good scoring chance. On a penalty corner, Alyssa Stock fired a pointblank shot that Bowdoin keeper Kayla Lessard dove to stop for her only save of the contest.

The Polar Bears took over from there. Molly Paduda had her shot turned aside by Hawks goaltender Antonija Pjetri, with Olivia King and Cathleen Smith just missing from in front of the cage.

Bowdoin kept coming and finally dented the scoreboard when Rachel Kennedy cleaned up a rebound in front of Pjetri 6:30 into the game.

Bowdoin’s first penalty corner nine minutes later was put home on a hard shot from Brooke Phinney, with Kassey Matoin and Riley assisting, and Riley’s first goal gave the Polar Bears a 3-0 edge, forcing a SUNY New Paltz timeout.

“Just like any other team, we try to play our game and take it to them,” said Riley, who watched Smith make it a 4-0 game with 12:11 left until halftime. “We moved the ball quickly and all did our job. When we do that, we are successful. Our midfield picked off a lot of passes and got the transition started.”

Riley upped the lead to 5-0, with Smith picking up an assist.

“We knew this would be our last home game, so we wanted to play our game on our field and just keep the focus and build off the weekend,” said Pearson. “Katie is a terrific athlete, quick, fast, and has the skills to go along with that. As the game went along, she read the game and took advantage of the situations she was in, using her assets to create some great scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates.”

The Hawks scored their lone goal with 5:14 remaining in the first half when Dani Ackerman slapped the ball out of the air and past Lessard.

Any thoughts of a comeback were erased as the Bowdoin defense of Phinney, Matoin, Lauren Schroeder and Elena Crosley intercepted several passes, and Riley capped her big game with a breakaway goal to complete the 6-1 Polar Bears victory.

Pearson plans on having her team recharge before preparing for Saturday’s second round.

“Our first priority when we knew we had to play on Wednesday was to rest and recover from the weekend,” said Pearson. “We will now recover from this one, and change our focus and get ready for the next chapter.”

Pjetri had 12 saves for the Hawks. Bowdoin finished with a 6-1 edge in penalty corners.

Bowdoin 6,
SUNY New Paltz 1

At Ryan Field NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship First Round

New Paltz 1 0 1
Bowdoin 5 1 6

Goals — (NP) Dani Ackerman; (B) Rachel Kennedy,
Brooke Phinney, Katie Riley 3, Cathleen Smith.
Assists — Kassey Matoin, Katie Riley, Cathleen
Smith.
Shots — Bowdoin, 18-2.
Saves — (NP) Antonija Pjetri 12; (B) Kayla Lessard
1, Hannah Gartner 0.
Penalty corners — Bowdoin, 6-1.
Records — Bowdoin 15-3, New Paltz 16-5.
Next for the Polar Bears — Saturday at Geneva, N.Y.
against MIT in the D-III Second Round, 1:30 p.m.


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