Prior to this spring, the Colby College women’s lacrosse team had played just a handful of games the last two seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ditto the Bowdoin College men’s lacrosse team.

Both are more than making up for lost opportunities.

The Colby women (15-3-0) are preparing to play William Smith College (18-1-0) in an NCAA Division III tournament third round game Saturday in Middlebury, Vermont. The Bowdoin men (18-2-0), meanwhile, are in the national quarterfinals, where it will play defending D-III champ Rochester Institute of Technology (19-1) in New York on Saturday.

“It’s a great feeling, and being in my first year here, it’s kind of surreal,” said Bowdoin first-year coach Bill Mason, who earned New England Small College Athletic Conference coach of the year honors. “This group has come together in a way, and they didn’t even play last year; the year before that, they only played in three games, so I’m just kind of blown away that my team has exceeded everyone’s expectations, including mine. They really have just risen themselves to a level that I really haven’t seen in any other team I’ve been a part of.  We’re practicing, we’re eating together and we’re just keeping this show on the road. It’s all been fun and I’m happy it’s still going.”

The Mules — who last reached the NCAA D-III tournament in 2017 — will bring a potent attack to Middlebury this weekend. They feature five players who’ve scored at least 30 goals, including team leader Annie Eddy (58 goals).

Colby head coach Karen Henning said the Mules embraced an “all-in” mindset this season.


“The team really committed to giving their all to make the most of this year and working together to do it,” said Henning, who is in her 15th season. “That’s exactly what they’ve done and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Added Eddy, a junior: “We don’t just have that one person that we need to put the weight of the world on (offensively). Yes, we have amazing players. But each of us, together, that’s what makes us so amazing. We have depth, and we have everyone that can put the ball in the back of the net. We just have so much fun playing each other and trusting each other and hyping each other up. I think that’s that the difference between (Colby women’s lacrosse) and other teams.”

Gianna Bruno (32 goals, 49 assists), Elizabeth Hennessey (33 goals), Ally Franz (30 goals) and Julia Jardina (30 goals) have also produced offensively for the Mules.

Members of the Colby College women’s lacrosse team work through a drill during practice Thursday in Waterville. The Mules are preparing to play an NCAA Division III tournament third round game Saturday in Vermont. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Junior attack Maddie Montgomery leads William Smith with 66 goals. She is one of three Herons to score at least 40 goals this season.

“We’ve gone against them before, I think we went against them in 2018 (a 12-3 Colby victory) and it was a really good game,” Henning said. “They’re tough. They work hard and they’ve only had one loss. They have multiple scorers, too… They run a high-pressure zone (defense), like Middlebury and Wesleyan; those are teams we’ve seen that type of zone from. Kind of excited to get back up against that and see what we can do. To beat a zone defense, it truly has to be a team effort, it’s not a one person show at all.”

While the Mules lean on experience, the opposite is true for the Polar Bears, who’ve enjoyed a rather improbable run to the D-III quarterfinals.


Bowdoin didn’t compete in 2021 and played just three games in 2020. Add in a new coach — Mason previously coached six seasons at Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts — and expectations were light heading into 2022.

Bowdoin won its first 14 games this spring before it fell to Tufts in the regular season finale. The Jumbos would beat the Polar Bears again on May 8 in the NESCAC title game.

The Polar Bears have scored 347 goals. Four players have scored 40 or more goals, including NESCAC player of the year Donal Mullane. The senior has 105 points (59 goals, 46 assists). He’s followed by Will Byrne (65 goals, 30 assists), who earned conference rookie of the year honors. Patrick Fitzgerald (49 goals, 16 assists) and Jason Lach (46 goals) round out the group. Byrne (sophomore), Fitzgerald (freshman) and Lach (freshman) have been pleasant surprised this season.

College women’s lacrosse player Jenna Goldstein looks to make a play during practice Thursday in Waterville. The Mules are preparing to play an NCAA Division III tournament third round game Saturday in Vermont. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I think there was excitement (coming into the season)” said senior attack Zach Chandler, who has 29 goals and 20 assists. “I don’t think there was an expectation. I think we came in, sort of without any expectation, but just excited to compete. I think that shows in the way that we play. We play hard, and we do everything we can to win for each other. I think that’s really manifested in the way we’ve gone about this season.”

Bowdoin will have its hands full with the Tigers. Junior attack Luke Pilcher leads RIT with 55 goals and 20 assists.

“What’s key for us to remember who we are and stay true to the way we play,” Chandler said. “I think something that stands out with Bowdoin lacrosse is how much we want the ball when it’s on the ground. We make it a priority to win the ground ball war in every game. I think we sort of rely on our toughness. That’s something we’ll continue to do Saturday.”

“It’s nothing new (for RIT) to be in this spot,” Mason added. “Obviously, a little bit newer to us. It’s going to be at their own place. They don’t make very many mistakes, they play really fast. For us to be competitive, we just need to go up there and continue to do what we’ve been doing all year. We’ve played great competition all year. I think it’s just more handling the inexperience and the level of the stage… I feel like we have the preparation we need. We just need to go out and play our best.”

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