Field Hockey | Lucky 13: Jumbos beat Polar Bears, claim second in NESCAC
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 01:10
After a season of nailbiters for the Jumbos, and a history of last-second results against Bowdoin, the result was never in doubt on Wednesday night.
Under the lights, the No. 8 field hockey team dominated Bowdoin in a matchup that has a long history of being closely contested, sailing to its 13th straight victory and clinching the No. 2 seed for this weekend’s NESCAC championships in the process.
The Jumbos ousted No. 3 Bowdoin in a 3-1 performance that at times seemed far more one-sided than the final score indicated.
Senior co-captain forward Lia Sagerman and junior midfielder Emily Cannon both got early shots off before Bowdoin had even gotten a foot in the game. But the Polar Bears responded, firing three shots in quick succession at sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Keenan, who made two saves to keep things scoreless.
“Bowdoin’s defense has always been strong, so we knew going into this game that we’d need to capitalize on our offensive opportunities,” senior forward Kelsey Perkins said. “Right from the get-go, the whole team stepped up and put a lot of pressure on their backs, but it was really when we recognized how strong they were in the middle of the field that we started to keep the ball on the outside more, spread the defense, and get the corners and scoring opportunities.”
The Jumbos were the first to capitalize after notching their first penalty corner of the game. Sophomore midfielder Maggie Chapman redirected a corner to Dakota Sikes-Keilp, and the freshman midfielder finished off Chapman’s feed for her first collegiate goal and an early Tufts lead.
“Dakota’s goal was representative of how everyone on the team’s dedication is paying off and how each player on this team has a vital role in our success,” junior forward Chelsea Yogerst said. “She came into the game and elevated everyone else’s play by bringing an intense energy which eventually led to an amazing goal.”
For the remainder of the half, the Jumbos continued to press, allowing the Polar Bears just a single penalty corner opportunity after their goal. Cannon got another two more shots on cage, but both were rejected by Bowdoin senior co-captain Kayla Lessard.
After the break, it was no different, as the Jumbos came out blazing. In a flurry of action at Bowdoin’s defensive end, Perkins took three consecutive penalty corners for the Jumbos. Senior co-captain midfielder Rachel Gerhardt and Cannon each received balls in a thicket of defenders, but were unable to get good looks.
Sagerman finally took control, winding her way through a mass of bodies. The senior received a pass in the middle of the circle and found a gap to push one past Lessard, giving Tufts a 2-0 lead at the 37:06 mark.
Four minutes later, the Polar Bears made another push, carrying the ball downfield and eventually setting up a restart from the far right wing. Junior midfielder Lauren Schroeder sent in a perfect cross, finding senior co-captain forward Cathleen Smith at the corner of the cage. Smith polished off the close-range shot, sending it past Keenan and into the board at the 41:08 mark.
But the Jumbos answered quickly. After being awarded their sixth penalty corner of the night, Perkins took the corner again, this time finding Gerhardt at the top of the circle. She sent in a hard shot that was redirected past Lessard by Yogerst, giving Tufts a key insurance goal.
“We had been working a lot in practice this week on restructuring our corners so that more people were in a position to tip, rather than letting the goalie take the initial shot,” Perkins said. “We had been able to create a lot of space on the left side of the circle, so Rachel took the hard shot in from the left side, and Chelsea was in the exact right position to redirect it into the goal.”
From that point on, Tufts dominated possession of the ball. The Polar Bears earned one penalty corner opportunity in the 47th minute, but it was well-defended by the Jumbos’ staunch defense. Outside of that, the remainder of the game was dominated by Tufts’ offense.
“We always say that our forwards are our first line of defense,” Yogerst said. “The pressure that we put on [Bowdoin’s] back players helped us continue to keep the ball in our offensive end.”