GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – TCNJ is no stranger to the Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship. The Lions have won 13 national championships and appeared in five other title games.
So when Bowdoin, a team which received an at-large bid to the tournament, beat unbeaten Trinity (Conn.) a week ago, nobody would have dreamed of the Polar Bears getting past yet another undefeated team this weekend in the national semifinals.
Bowdoin put on a show in the second half to rally and beat TCNJ 11-9 Saturday afternoon on the campus of Adelphi, to reach the program’s first national championship game.
Trailing 5-2 at halftime, the Polar Bears went to work in the second half.
“Confidence was a huge for us in the second half,” head coach Liz Grote said. “Our defense was a little shaky in the first half but we really honed in on taking care of the ball in the second half and that was really one of the biggest differences for us. We made them work for every possession they had in the offensive zone.”
Not bad for a team that barely got to practice together thanks to final exams – some which took place the morning of the game.
“Tuesday we had only 14 players at practice, Wednesday we were missing three or four, and Thursday we traveled,” Grote said. “So [Friday] was the first time we practiced as a full group, but if you don’t know it now then something is wrong.”
Some of the players even found humor in the fact that they were taking exams almost right up until game time of a national semifinal.
“Some of us would joke around and say that ‘we’re going to be playing so much better since our brains are actually still functioning and working,’” said Carolyn Gorajek.
The school has been nothing but supportive of the Polar Bears, including the professors.
“I’ve had professors email me YouTube videos of 80-yard goals and they’d say stuff like ‘go ahead and do that!’ They’ve been nothing but great towards us,” said Katie Dissinger.
Dissinger led the Polar Bears with four goals, while Tara Connolly stopped 13 shots in goal.
Sometimes it’s better to not even realize where you are and what stage you are on. That’s just what this group has done.
“It’s been fun, for these kids it’s been awesome to see how far they’ve come along with the great leadership,” head coach
Two weeks, two undefeated opponents which combined were 38-0, and now two wins for the Polar Bears heading into Sunday’s national championship game against Gettysburg. It’s cliché to call them a Cinderella. After all, they are 18-3 and even though the Women’s Lacrosse program has never been to this stage, the team has players that have.
Eight players on the roster play on the Bowdoin Field Hockey squad which took home the national championship in the Fall.
“It’s been great to talk to those girls about the experience, and they’ve been able to calm us down and let us know what to expect,” said Gorajek. “To know that our school can win a national championship with the girls here that have, has almost made it more special for us knowing that we can do it too.”
And then there are those rings.
“They actually just got their rings on Monday so we’ve been talking about it quite a bit this week,” said Connolly.
Now the chance is there for two rings in one year.