Bowdoin Returns to Final Four, Aims For Third National Crown

Bowdoin Returns to Final Four, Aims For Third National Crown

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College field hockey team will make their fifth appearance in the NCAA Division III semifinals this weekend, with eyes on winning their third national championship in the last four seasons. The 2007 and '08 national champs will face Skidmore College at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at Christopher Newport (Va.) University, following Messiah and Ursinus who will play at 11:00 a.m. The winners will play on Sunday in the national championship game at 1:00 p.m.

The NCAA will provide live coverage of all the games this weekend from Christopher Newport. Click here for live statistics and a live video webcast of the matches.

Tickets will be sold at the gate one hour prior to game time. Single session tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for seniors/students. All-session tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors/students. Children 2 and under are free.

The 2007 and 2008 NCAA Division III Champions, Bowdoin College returns to the semifinals after a one-year absence in 2009. The Polar Bears earned an automatic bid to this year's tourney after claiming the NESCAC Tournament Championship at Tufts University on November 7.

Bowdoin opened the season with 13 consecutive victories and entered its regular season finale at Tufts with first place on the line. Bowdoin lost to the Jumbos 1-0 on October 29 and finished as a runner-up to Tufts in the regular season conference standings, but earned sweet revenge against their rivals with an impressive 3-0 win in the conference title match.

Ranked among the top ten teams in the nation since September, the Polar Bears are making their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance overall and boast a 14-5 record in NCAA action. Bowdoin missed out on the tournament in 2009, but have won their last 10 NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2007.

The Polar Bears feature a balanced offensive attack that saw five different players score nine or more goals in 2010. Katie Herter leads the charge with 18 goals, including five game-winners, while Cathleen Smith enjoyed a breakout campaign with ten goals and five game-winning tallies. Ingrid Oelschlager, who netted the overtime game-winner against Lebanon Valley that sent Bowdoin to the "Final Four", has nine goals and a team-high nine assists on the year. Elizabeth Clegg (nine goals, six assists) and Kassey Matoin (ten goals, one assist) have also been outstanding contributors to the Polar Bear offense, which stands ninth nationally at 3.89 goals per game.

However, Bowdoin's success unquestionably starts with its defense. The Polar Bears stand first in the nation in team defense (0.62 goals against average) while goaltender Emily Neilson ranks first in Division III with her 0.55 goals against average. Head coach Nicky Pearson headlined the NESCAC Postseason honors, earning her seventh Coach of the Year award, more than any other coach in any other sport in league history. Oelschlager and Ella Curren netted First-Team All-NESCAC honors while Herter, Neilson and Shannon Malloy were named Second-Team All-Conference. The Polar Bears are ranked fourth in the nation in the final Division III poll.


Skidmore College Thoroughbreds (20-1)
Series History - Bowdoin leads 1-0. The Polar Bears defeated Skidmore 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament en route to their first NCAA Championship in 2007.

The Liberty League champions are enjoying one of the finest seasons in program history, having won 19 consecutive games entering play this weekend. The Thoroughbreds are making their fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 10th overall. They also advanced to the semifinals in 2001. Skidmore advanced with a pair of thrilling regional wins over The College of New Jersey, 3-2 in overtime, and Eastern University, 4-3 on a goal by Annie Rosencrans scored with 2:41 remaining. Skidmore is led by three-time Liberty League Player of the Year Christine Kemp. The senior forward is second nationally in scoring with 28 goals and 22 assists for a Skidmore record 78 points. She is the program's all-time leading scorer with 70 goals and 62 assists for 202 points. Senior goalie Liz Catinella has a 0.94 goals against average and .816 save percentage and has been part of nine shutouts, earning Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year.

Ursinus College Bears (20-1)
Series History - Bowdoin leads 1-0. The Polar Bears defeated Ursinus on their home field, 3-2, in the 2008 NCAA Semifinals on their way to their second consecutive national title.

The Bears earned their tournament ticket with their seventh-straight Centennial Conference championship and advanced to their third-straight "Final Four" after eliminating Juniata, 7-0, and Middlebury, 3-0, in convincing fashion last weekend. The highest-scoring team in Division III, the Bears have lit the scoreboard 131 times this season, averaging an astounding 6.24 goals per game this year. Junior forward Alyssa Thren leads the way with 34 goals, ranking second in Division III, and 10 assists this year. Ursinus is making their seventh-straight NCAA Tournament appearance overall, and have one national title to their credit, in 2006 at William Smith.

Messiah College Falcons (18-2)
Series History - Messiah leads 2-0. The only team to beat Bowdoin in NCAA Tournament play in the last six years, Messiah bounced the Polar Bears twice in the national semifinals - 2-1 at Washington & Lee in 2005 and 1-0 at William Smith in 2006.

Th e top-ranked team in the final Division III national poll, Messiah is making its 14th NCAA "Final Four" appearance, but are still in search of their first-ever national title. The Falcons punched their ticket to the tourney by winning the Commonwealth Conference tournament, 5-2, over Lebanon Valley on November 6. Messiah then dispatched Lynchburg, 7-0, and Salisbury, 4-1, to clinch their third consecutive national semifinal appearance. Since losing to Lynchburg on September 22, the Falcons have won 14 straight games, outscoring their opponents 72-8 during that stretch. Messiah ranks among the top five in Division III in every statistical category, including team offense (fifth, 4.4 goals per game) and defense (second, 0.62 goals against average). Senior Julie Barton, the 2009 NFHCA National Player of the Year, sparks the Falcon offense with 20 assists. Goaltender Kayleigh Stewart is fourth nationally with a0.73 goals against average.