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Ryan Killilea | | November 21, 2015

Field hockey: Bowdoin downs Ursinus in national championship semifinal

2015 DIII Field Hockey Semifinal Full Replay: Ursinus vs. Bowdoin

LEXINGTON, Va – Bowdoin senior Rachel Kennedy scored two goals and assisted on another to help the Bowdoin College Polar Bears advance to the Division III Field Hockey Championship Game with a 4-2 win over Ursinus College on Saturday.  Bowdoin (21-0 overall) advances to the championship game for the third straight year, to be played at Washington and Lee University, the site of the semifinals.

BOX SCORE: Bowdoin 4, Ursinus 2

After the two teams went through a feeling out period, the Polar Bears began to show why they are still undefeated.  Just two minutes into the game, Emily McColgan lofted a shot towards the net and it hit the crossbar.  Ursinus (19-4) goalie Danielle DeSpirito was able to clear the ball out and end the threat.

Bowdoin earned the first penalty corner of the game 5 minutes in. The shot was blocked, and a penalty corner was awarded again after another foul by UC. Once again, a shot was blocked, taking away the BC opportunity.

Ursinus earned its first chance at the 15-minute mark. Stephanie Cooper centered a pass and the play resulted in a penalty corner. Megan Keenan’s ensuing shot was blocked. Six minutes later, the Ursinus Bears earned two consecutive penalty corners, but both shots were stopped before getting toward the cage.

After 25 scoreless minutes, the Polar Bears finally broke through.  Bowdoin had two shots stopped by Ursinus defenders, before earning a penalty corner. McColgan stopped the insert from Mettler Growney. McColgan then passed it to Kelsey Mullaney five feet inside the circle, and Mullaney fired the ball into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, the Polar Bears doubled their lead. Kennedy corralled the ball at the midfield and started a two-on-one fast break and sent a pass just beyond DeSpirito to Nicole Barbieri.  Barbieri tapped it into the back of the cage for the 2-0 lead, which remained until the half.

The second half saw the Bears come out aggressively and look for the goal. Less than five minutes in, Danielle Strong fired a shot for Ursinus, but Bowdoin goalie Clara Belitz made a great save to keep the score at 2-0 BC. The Polar Bears used that save to take back the momentum.

In the 52nd minute, Kennedy made it 3-0 for the Polar Bears as she finished off a rebound. 

Despite the deficit, Ursinus continued to fight and copied the previous goal. Following a penalty corner, the Bears had a shot blocked, but Ann Kopera found the ball amid heavy traffic in front of the goal and tallied for the first time for the Bears. Ursinus coach Janelle Banner said after the game, “that it doesn’t matter what’s on the scoreboard, we’re going to continue to fight.”

However, Bowdoin answered back less than three minutes later, once again coming off of a corner. Mullaney found Kennedy, who scored for the 35th time this year to give Bowdoin the three-goal lead. “On corners, it’s my job to be first to the ball, and find a way to get it in,” Kennedy said after the game. “But all of the credit goes to my teammates for setting me up.”

With time running down, Ursinus added a late consolation at the 65:20 mark. Amber Steigerwalt split the defense on a counter attack and fired it to the far post. However, the Polar Bears held on in the final minutes to keep their championship hopes alive.

“We’re really excited to be back in the championship game,” Bowdoin College coach Nicky Pearson said. “It helps our team having older players who have been at this level who can help get the younger players ready for the next game.”

The Polar Bears will play the winner of the second semifinal between The College of New Jersey and Middlebury College at 1 p.m. Sunday.