Nov. 20, 2010

Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics

Goaltender Dan Hicks made two saves and Bowdoin buried three of their four chances in a penalty kick shootout to lift the Polar Bears to the sectional final of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Bowdoin and Amherst played to a 1-1 deadlock through overtimes before the Polar Bears advanced with a 3-1 decision in kicks.

Amherst finishes their season with a record of 13-2-4. Bowdoin, who had twice lost in penalty kicks in NCAA play in 2009 and 2005, stands at 14-1-4 and will play Middlebury for the third time this season on Sunday for a trip to the Division III "Final Four". Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Pickard Field.

After both teams connected in the first round of the best-of-five shootout, Hicks blocked consecutive chances by Amherst's T.J. Kelly and Spencer Noon. In the bottom of the third round, Michael Gale slipped a shot past Amherst's Lennard Kovacs to give the Polar Bears a 2-1 edge. Ian Rothkopf booted his kick high of the crossbar and Evan Gershkovich, who did not see action during the 110 minutes of play, coolly netted a chance inside the left post to win the shootout.

Bowdoin appeared to be in good shape in regulation, as they took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when Tim Prior headed home a bouncing ball in front to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. The Polar Bears made a bid to extend the lead to two goals in the 60th minute after an Amherst handball in the box. But Kovacs, who stopped six shots in the second half alone, smothered the chance to keep the deficit at a single goal.

Amherst responded with a flurry of pressure and capitalized on their momentum with the game-tying score in the 73rd minute as Thebe Tsatsimpe centered a cross to Noone, who banged home the feed to even the score. Both teams had great chances to seal the victory in the closing moments. With five minutes left in regulation, James Mooney came loose behind the Polar Bear defense and toed a shot that skipped wide of the post. In overtime, Bowdoin's Alex Marecki had a chance to clinch the win, but his shot was blocked in front.

Kovacs finished the match with eight saves while Hicks ended with seven. Bowdoin will face Middlebury for the third time this year after losing to the Panthers 2-0 in their regular season meeting and playing to a scoreless tie in the NESCAC title match. The winner advances to the NCAA semifinals in San Antonio, Texas on December 3.