Nov. 14, 2010

Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Bowdoin senior co-captain Ingrid Oelschlager scored the game-winning goal with 3:21 remaining in the first overtime to lift the Polar Bear field hockey team to their fifth NCAA semifinal appearance, 4-3 over Lebanon Valley in a regional final on Sunday. The Polar Bears improve to 18-1 this season and will face Skidmore College in the Division III Semifinals at Christopher Newport University next Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

Lebanon Valley finishes an outstanding season with a record of 19-3.

Oelschlager got Bowdoin going on Sunday afternoon, setting the tone for a back-and-forth affair when she converted a penalty stroke in the 15th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage. Just as they did on Saturday against Cortland State, Lebanon Valley answered quickly, scoring less than two minutes later when a long hit from Kelsey Miller was tipped in front by Jocelyn Novak to tie the game at one apiece.

Bowdoin scored twice in a five-minute span later in the period, when Kassey Matoin knocked home a Liz Clegg rebound at 20:05 and Emily French finished off a scramble in front at 25:11 to give the Polar Bears a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead. But the Flying Dutchmen battled back, scoring at 28:34 off a penalty corner when Cait Eckenrode redirected a shot from the point to trim the lead to 3-2 at intermission.

Lebanon Valley evened the score early in the second half when Marisa Maxwell finished off a scrum in front of the cage at 41:40 to tie the game for the third time. From there, the teams traded blows over the final half-hour, with neither squad netting the game-winner.

Bowdoin appeared to seal the win early in the overtime session, but a pair of spectacular saves by Lebanon Valley netminder Christine Poletti kept hopes alive for the visitors. The Polar Bears finally netted the game-winning score in the 82nd minute of play when Liz Clegg played a corner into Oelschlager, who carried the ball toward the goal. Oelschlager handled past two defenders and tapped a shot that bounced off Poletti's pads and over the stick of a Lebanon Valley defender to send the Polar Bears to their fifth "Final Four" in the last six seasons.

Poletti finished with 15 saves for Lebanon Valley while Emily Neilson earned on save for Bowdoin. The Polar Bears held a 26-5 edge in shots and 7-1 lead in penalty corners.

The victory is the 11th straight in NCAA Tournament play for Bowdoin, who won the NCAA Division III title in both 2007 and 2008. The Polar Bears also improve to 11-0 all-time in NCAA play at Ryan Field.

Bowdoin's opponent, Skidmore, advanced to the national semifinals with a 4-3 win over Eastern on Sunday afternoon. The teams have played once prior, in 2007, when Bowdoin defeated the Thoroughbreds in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament en route to their first national title. Ursinus and Messiah will play in the other semifinal, scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on November 20.