Last November, the Bowdoin College field hockey team became the first team in school history to win a national championship when the Polar Bears annexed the NCAA Division III crown with a 4-3 victory over rival Middlebury College (Vt.) in Collegeville, Pa.
That triumph capped a 20-0 season.
The Brunswick-based Polar Bears have picked up where they left off by winning their first seven games this season and outscoring their opponents 27-0 in doing so. They have out-shot their opponents 204-10.
Three women from Maine have played roles in Bowdoin’s start as well as its 2007 success.
Yarmouth senior Julia King, a first team All-American last year when she registered five goals and 21 assists, has a goal and four assists from her mid-field spot so far this season; Dover-Foxcroft senior forward Tamlyn Frederick has a goal in six games after collecting 2 & 3 in 11 games last year, and Springvale’s Megan McCullough, a junior, has yet to produce a point but has been valuable in the midfield while starting all seven games. McCullough had a goal and an assist in 16 games last year.
“Julia plays in the center of the midfield and a lot of our play goes through her,” said 13th-year head coach Nicky Pearson. “She’s often responsible for feeding the ball up to the forwards and that creates goal scoring opportunities for us.”
“Tamlyn is a fast, feisty forward who brings a lot of speed and aggression when she comes in to play,” continued Pearson. “Megan is also in the center of the midfield and she aggressively moves to the ball well. She plays strong one-on-one defense and is good at distributing the ball to the forwards.”
Pearson, the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year last season, graduated just three seniors off last year’s team and said, “We have a solid corps of returning players who are playing very well at the moment.
“But we’ve got some of the strongest teams in our league [NESCAC] left to play.”
The Polar Bears outscored their opponents 76-6 last year and have a 62-3 record over their last 2½ seasons.
Pearson said one of the primary reasons behind their success is defensive commitment.
“We emphasize the importance of everyone being able to play [strong] one-on-one defense, from the forwards to the backs. We expect our players to work as hard on their defensive skills as they do on their offensive skills,” said Pearson, who hails from England.
It also helps having record-setting All-American forward Lindsay McNamara, who scored 27 goals a year ago, including nine in four NCAA Tournament games. She has already found the cage 15 times this season.
McNamara has a school-record 75 career goals to date.
“She’s a very, very good player,” said Pearson.
Seniors Kristen Veiga and Leah Ferenc have anchored the defense in front of goalies Emily Neilson and Emileigh Mercer.
“They are both seasoned defenders and they’ve played very well,” said Pearson.
Complementing McNamara up front have been Ingrid Oelschlager and Madeleine McQueeney, who had scored three goals apiece. Oelschlager scored 16 goals a year ago and McQueeney had four.