The expectations for Bowdoin College’s field hockey players can be daunting. The Polar Bears have won four NCAA Division III national championships – most recently in 2013 – and last fall advanced to the national title game.

Bowdoin entered the 2015 season ranked first in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.

If the Polar Bears are feeling any pressure, they’re not showing it. Bowdoin, ranked second in the latest poll, is off to a 6-0 start and outscoring its opponents 25-3.

“I don’t know if I’d call it pressure,” said senior center forward Rachel Kennedy. “I think it’s more like an honor to play for Bowdoin field hockey and put on that jersey, knowing the success of the program in the past and wanting to get there this season. I know I can speak for all the juniors and seniors who won (the title) as freshmen and sophomores who know how good it feels and the hard work it takes.”

Bowdoin, which plays at Wellesley on Thursday, is coming off its biggest game of the season, a 2-1 win over NESCAC rival Middlebury, which beat the Polar Bears in last year’s conference championship game.

“They challenged us the most significantly of any team we have played,” said Nicky Pearson, in her 20th season as Bowdoin’s head coach. “To win that game was a big confidence booster.”

Kennedy leads Bowdoin’s offense with 14 goals and two assists. She is averaging a nation’s-best 2.33 goals per game. Pearson credits Kennedy’s summer workouts with her fast start.

“There were some areas of her game she felt she needed to work on, gain some additional skills, like her hit,” Pearson said.

So Kennedy worked and worked on her hit. Now she’s dangerous from anywhere in the circle.

“You want to make sure your skills are the best of your ability,” she said.

And that’s what keeps Bowdoin going. Pearson said they work on routine skills because it often determines who wins and who loses.

“It’s really about executing the basics,” she said. “When we were looking at the game tape from Middlebury, there were times when we would point out to the players when they executed the basics really well and created opportunities for us. And there were times when … when things broke down.

“We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We just need to continue to do the things we do to the highest standards and be more consistent.”

The Polar Bears are more than a one-player wrecking crew. Junior forward Kimmy Ganong has six goals and an assist. Senior defender Kelsey Mullaney has five assists. Five other players have goals.

Starting goalie Clara Belitz has a 0.52 goals-against average.

Pearson said the team’s three goalies – including junior Liz Rill and freshman Grave Linnan – have given the Polar Bears a boost in replacing the graduated Hannah Gartner.

“That spot was vacant and they’ve all stepped up,” said Pearson. “Clara made some crucial saves in that Middlebury game to put us in a position to win.”

Losing in last year’s national championship game has provided this team with a lot of motivation to return to Lexington, Virginia, in late November for another championship run.

But, said Pearson, “We’ve got a lot of work to do before that.”

CROSS COUNTRY

University of Southern Maine senior Julian Gazzelloni of Windham was named Little East Conference men’s runner of the week and freshman Yahye Hussein of Portland (Deering) was named LEC men’s rookie of the week. Gazzelloni finished ninth in the Bowdoin College Invitational and was the first USM runner to complete the 8,000-meter course, with a time of 26 minutes, 43.3 seconds. Hussein finished 13th in 26:52.7.

 Bentley University sophomore Ryan Cadorette of Saco (Thornton Academy) was named the Northeast-10 Conference men’s athlete of the week. Cadorette finished 29th in the Maroon Division II race at the Roy Griak Invitational, covering the 8,000-meter course in 27:02.2. He moved up 10 places in the final 3,000 meters.

University of New England freshman Matthew Toussaint of Wallagrass (Fort Kent) was named Commonwealth Coast Conference men’s rookie of the week. He finished eighth of 104 runners in the Pop Crowell Invitational, running the 8,000-meter course in 27:23.

UNE junior Tiana Thomas of Waterville was named the CCC women’s runner of the week and freshman Jessica Bachry of South Berwick (Marshwood) was named CCC women’s rookie of the week. Thomas finished first in the Pop Crowell Invitational, finishing the 5,000-meter course in 18:28 – 30 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Bachry came in 13th in 20:31.

GOLF

St. Joseph’s College freshman Cam Letourneau of Hebron was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference player and rookie of the week for the second consecutive week. Letourneau shot a 36-37-73 to earn medalist honors in the Thomas College Invitational. Then he shot a 74-73-147 to finish fifth in the Husson University Invitational. St. Joe’s won both tournaments.

Bentley senior Malcolm Oliver of Damariscotta (Lincoln Academy) was named Northeast-10 Conference golfer of the week. Oliver won medalist honors in the Division II Challenge at the Quechee (Vermont) Club Highland Course by shooting a two-day total 1-over par 145. He shot a 1-under 71 on the second day to win by four strokes and had seven birdies in the tournament.

Husson freshman Daulton Wickenden of Rockport (Camden Hills) was named the North Atlantic Conference rookie of the week. Wickenden shot a 73-74-147 to tie for fifth in the Husson Invitational.

UNE senior Paul Butkevich of Pomfret, Connecticut, was named CCC golfer of the week and freshman Mike Rich of Winthrop, Massachusetts, was named rookie of the week. Butkevich shot a 71-75-146 to finish tied for third in the Husson Invitational. Rich shot an 81-81-162 in that same tournament.

SOCCER

UNE junior forward Jessica Meader of Scarborough was named CCC women’s offensive player of the week and junior goalkeeper Brielle Robinson of Monson, Massachusetts, was named CCC defensive player of the week. Meader had one goal and two assists in two victories for the Nor’easters. Robinson had 17 saves in those two victories.

TENNIS

Endicott College freshman Margot Andreasen of Portland earned CCC women’s rookie of the week honors. She went 2-0 at the No. 2 singles position and was 3-0 at No. 2 doubles.

VOLLEYBALL

St. Joseph’s College senior middle blocker Felicia Wachowiak of Milton, New Hampshire, was named the GNAC offensive player of the week and freshman libero Jennelle Thompson of Farmington, New Hampshire, was named the GNAC rookie of the week. Wachowiak had 42 kills and 11 total blocks in three matches. Thompson had 78 digs in three victories for the Monks.

USM sophomore outside hitter Jess Williamson of Goffstown, New Hampshire, was named LEC offensive player of the week. Williamson had 51 kills, 37 digs, four service aces and five blocks in three matches (10 sets).