Bowdoin College forward Maddie Hasson looks to get past an Ithaca defender in last season’s NCAA Division III quarterfinal at Brunswick. Hassan leads the Polar Bears against Endicott in the team’s season opener on Saturday. (Brian Beard / CiPhotography.com) Brian Beard – CIP

BRUNSWICK — Over the past two seasons, the Bowdoin College women’s basketball team has come all so close to winning that initial Division III national title.

Two years ago, it was a loss to NESCAC rival Amherst in the final, and last season, undefeated Thomas More turned the trick with an 81-67 win over Adrienne Shibles’ Polar Bears, wh0 finished with a 31-2 record.

On Friday, Bowdoin begins its 2019/20 regular season at Endicott on Saturday (2 p.m), with this year’s Polar Bears needing to replace several quality graduates while continuing to excel on the court with a young team.

Gone are the talented foursome of Abby Kelly (15.4 points per game), Taylor Choate (12.9), Hannah Graham (7.4) and Cordelia Stewart (4.3), a group that averaged more than 40 points a game along with 16 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

“We graduated a talented group of players, leaders both on the court and off,” said Shibles, who sees a group of players this season that are “very young.”

Back in the fold are senior captains Maddie Hass0n and Sam Roy, along with

Bowdoin College women’s basketball coach Adrienne Shibles, right, holds up part of the net after her Polar Bears defeated Ithaca in the NCAA Division III “Elite 8” last season inside Morrell Gymnasium in Brunswick in March. Shibles leads her 2019/20 squad into regular season action on Saturday at Endicott. (Brian Beard / CiPhotography.com) Brian Beard – CIP

classmate Olivia Ware. Hasson was second to Kelly in scoring last year (14.6), and plays big inside (6.2 rebounds a game last season). Roy was a solid compliment to Choate, averaging 9.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals.

“We are very lucky to have Maddie and Sam as our leaders,” Shibles said. “They lead by example, and they are like assistant coaches on the court. In order for us to have success, they have to lead.”

The junior and sophomore classes will certainly be asked to do more by Shibles. Juniors Moira Train, Annie Maher and Dorian Cohen are joined by sophomores Sela Kay, Annie Boesburg, Tatum Angotti and Anika Helmke. This group combined to average 20 points a contest last year.

There are five freshmen in the fold. Fans will likely see Megan Tan, Tori Beck, Shayla Eubanks, Ali Meade and Jess Giorgio in Shibles’ large rotation that often features the entire roster contributing.

Bowdoin’s David Reynolds, left, goes for a shot against Middlebury last season in Brunswick. The Polar Bears open their season at the Roger Williams Invitational on Friday against Framington State. (Brian Beard / CiPhotography.com) Brian Beard – CIP

“We are a process-oriented program,” said Shibles. “We take things one game, one day at a time. If you take a practice off, you missed an opportunity to improve. We are aware that we will have some growing pains, but this group has adopted the saying, ‘Love to Fight.’ They plan on battling their adversity.”

Bowdoin’s offense averaged north of 83 points last year while allowing just 56. The team’s only loss prior to the national title game was to Tufts inside Morrell Gymnasium in the NESCAC title game, 75-69.

The Polar Bears were disappointed with the setback in front of their load home crowd, but rebounded to win home NCAA games against Hunter (93-73), Smith (87-78), New Paltz (81-50) and Ithaca (87-61) before rolling to a 71-60 victory over St. Thomas (Minnesota) in the national “Final Four.”

After visiting Endicott, the Polar Bears head to Gorham to face the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, followed by a pair of games at the Bridgewater State Tournament Nov. 22-23. Bowdoin debuts inside Morrell Gymnasium on Nov. 26 against the University of New England.

“Early season will be a challenge,” Shibles said. “Endicott returns its best players after a 20-win season last year, and we will face huge tests with USM, UNE. We play MIT. We have a hard non-conference schedule to start before our NESCAC schedule.”

The Polar Bears host NESCAC contests against Williams (Jan. 17), Middlebury (Jan. 18), Tufts (Jan. 31) and Bates (Feb. 1). The squad finishes with three straight on the road, including a visit to rival Amherst on Feb. 7.

“Amherst has everyone back, and Tufts returns its core. Beyond that, there is a lot of parity in the league, with Middlebury and Bates rising,” Shibles added.

Men’s Basketball

Year 35 of head coach Tim Gilbride’s tenure begins on Friday, with the Polar Bears playing in the Roger Williams Invitational against Framington State (7:30 p.m.). Win or lose, Bowdoin will play its second game on Saturday.

Last year, Bowdoin sat with an 8-3 record after a six-game winning streak before going 7-6 down the stretch to finish 15-9 overall, 4-6 in the NESCAC.

Gilbride returns senior guard/forward David Reynolds, who was second on the squad last year with 17.6 points per contest. Junior guard Zavier Rucker is back as well after averaging 12.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals.

Bowdoin has some size, with seniors Drew Gagnon and Reynolds standing 6-foot-5, while juniors Andy Ward (6-11), Sam Grad (6-7) and Cameron Withers (6-6) provide a big front court.

From Brunswick High School is sophomore guard Caleb Cost, who will look to grab some more playing time this year.

Bowdoin also visits USM on Tuesday before playing a pair of home games against Maine Maritime Academy (Nov. 23) and UNE (Nov. 26).

Key NESCAC home contests sees the Polar Bears against Trinity (Jan. 10), Connecticut College (Jan. 11), Colby (Jan. 25), Amherst (Feb. 7), Hamilton (Feb. 8) and Wesleyan (Feb,. 16).

Men’s hockey

It was a difficult 2018/19 season for Jamie Dumont’s squad, which finished 6-16-2 overall, 3-14-1 in NESCAC action. Bowdoin dropped its final seven contests last year, missing out on the NESCAC tourney.

Scoring was often an issue, as the Polar Bears tallied just 59 goals (2.45 per game) while allowing 95 (3.95).

Bowdoin looks to be strong in net with the return of junior

Bowdoin College men’s hockey player Bradley Ingersoll, left, skates with the puck in a 2018/19 regular season NESCAC contest with Colby inside Watson Arena in Brunswick. The Polar Bears open their season Friday at Middlebury. (Brian Beard / CiPhotography.com) Brian Beard – CIP

keepers Alex Zaforte and Kyle St. Denis.

Offensively, the Polar Bears lose leading scorer Cody Todesco, who finished with 12 goals and 10 assists last year, leaving him with 89 points (45 goals, 44 assists) in his stellar career. Austin Ricci and goaltender Erik Wurman (4-3-1, 3.12 goals against average) also graduated.

Sophomore Albert Washco (10-7-17), junior Bradley Ingersoll (4-7-11), senior Christian Capello (7-1-8) and sophomore Graham Rutledge (3-5-8) are back on the ice inside Watson Arena, which will see its first men’s action when the Polar Bears host the University of New England on Nov. 26.

Other key home contests include Connecticut College (Dec. 6), Tufts (Dec. 7), Hamilton (Jan. 10), Amherst (Jan. 11), Middlebury (Jan. 24), Williams (Jan. 25), Colby (Feb. 1), Trinity (Feb. 14) and Wesleyan (Feb. 15).

Bowdoin opens on Friday at Middlebury (7 p.m.) and visits Williams on Saturday (3 p.m.).

Women’s hockey

The start of the 2018/19 season was a nightmare for Marissa O’Neil’s Polar Bears, who began with an 11-game winless streak (0-10-1).

The end result was a 3-19-2 campaign, including a 2-13-1 mark in the NESCAC.

O’Neil’s 10th season begins on Friday and Saturday as the Polar Bears host NESCAC rival Wesleyan (7 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday) inside Watson Arena.

There are a few things that will need to be better, with scoring at the top of the list. Bowdoin tallied just 32 goals in its 24 games. The Polar Bears were solid defensively, permitting just 58 goals behind the goaltending of Kerri St. Denis (2.23 GAA, .929 save percentage). Denis graduated, with the only experienced netminder being sophomore Dani Marquez, who was 1-1-1 last year with a 2.39 GAA.

The Polar Bears lost Miranda Bell (7-1-8) to graduation, but returns leading scorer Tala Glass (senior, 4-9-13), along with junior Izzy Stoddard (3-6-9) and sophomore Angelina Joyce (6-2-8).

Bowdoin takes on rival Colby in a home-home series, with the opener in Brunswick on Nov. 22 followed by the rematch at Waterville on Nov. 23. The Polar Bears host NESCAC rivals Connecticut College (Jan. 17-18), Amherst (Feb. 7-8) and Middlebury (Feb. 21-22).

 

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