2018-03-12 / Sports

Polar Bears fall in Whittier debut, 16-15

Times Record Staff

BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S HENRY SAVAGE (12) heads up the field while being pressured by Amherst’s Reid Shilling (37) during a men’s lacrosse game on Whittier Field in Brunswick. The Polar Bears fell to the Mammoths, 16-15. 
ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S HENRY SAVAGE (12) heads up the field while being pressured by Amherst’s Reid Shilling (37) during a men’s lacrosse game on Whittier Field in Brunswick. The Polar Bears fell to the Mammoths, 16-15. ERIC MAXIM / THE TIMES RECORD BRUNSWICK

Playing the first ever lacrosse game at newly revamped Whittier Field, the Bowdoin College men’s lacrosse team hoped to christen it with a victory.

But a pair of late goals from Amherst lifted the Mammoths to a 16-15 victory in the NESCAC matchup on Saturday afternoon.

Each team scored early and often in the opening quarter.

Freshman Kendall Rogers got the Polar Bears on the board first with an unassisted goal past goalie Cameron Mitchell just 51-seconds into the game. Amherst answered quickly, netting three consecutive goals for a 3-1 lead.

After Bowdoin tied the score at three on a Brett Kujala tally, the teams traded goals to close out the period in a 5-5 tie. Bowdoin outshot the Mammoths, 16-9 in the first quarter.

After dropping its season opener a week ago to Connecticut College, 8-6, Bowdoin coach Jason Archbell has seen his team improve in practice over the past week and was pleased with their offensive output to start the game. “The guys played really, really hard. I’m not sure I can say that about last week’s game.

“This week they practiced really hard. It was a tough academic week for them with midterms and stuff right before break. They practiced awesome the last two days in particular.”

The second quarter didn’t have as much fire power as the first, as each team became more patient, passing the ball around the nets, playing keep-away from the other team’s offense.

The Mammoths (3-0) took an 8-6 lead with 6:53 left in the quarter when Trenton Shore took a pass from Colin Minicus and beat Bowdoin goalie John Young.

Young preserved the two-shot deficit with a save with 4:26 left in the half, and following an Amherst timeout a couple of minutes later, Bowdoin got a goal back when Tim Bulens found the back of the net with just over two minutes left in the half.

After Amherst extended its lead to 9-7 with under a minute remaining in the half, Mitchell made a save off Bowdoin’s 11th shot of the quarter. Following the save, the netminder carried the ball out towards midfield where Kujala was able to make a play.

“He was at the 40, they moved it up and we stepped in,” said the senior. “I saw the pull come up and I felt I could cover both players and got in his (Mitchell’s) lane and he threw it right in my stick.”

From there, Kujala sprinted to the net for Bowdoin’s eighth goal of the half with 18 seconds remaining and give the Polar Bears some momentum heading into the intermission.

Each team had 12 shots on goal in the opening half.

Amherst was able to push its lead to three goals, 11-8 to open the third frame. But Bowdoin’s three-goal run, sparked by a pair of Matthew Crowell scores, evened the score at 11-11 with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

Amherst’s Matt Solberg scored the go-ahead goal with three seconds left in the quarter to give the visitors a 12-11 lead, recapturing the momentum from Bowdoin heading into the fourth.

“When you get it back (momentum), you’ve got to hold it,” said Archbell.

Amherst outshot the Polar Bears, 14-8 in the third quarter. After controlling the majority of faceoffs in the first half, Bowdoin was beaten 6-1 by the Mammoths in the third.

Final frame

Neither team allowed the other to capture much of that spoken momentum in the final 15 minutes, keeping the score tight throughout the final frame. The two teams were tied five times throughout the fourth.

Minicus’ sixth goal of the game tied the score with 11:22 remaining, but playing a man down after a slashing penalty, Juggle tallied his fourth score of the game with 8:11 left to give Bowdoin a one-goal lead, 15-14.

The Polar Bears failed to hold on. Jimmy McAfee tied the game with 6:30 remaining off a helper from Brogan Mason, and Solberg registered his second goal of the game with an unassisted tally with 4:08 left for the eventual game-winner.

Unfortunately, the Polar Bears failed to muster any offense in the final minutes.

“We were trying to double the ball there in the final minute, trying to give us a chance to get the ball back,” said Archbell. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make the plays we needed to.”

Falling to 0-2, Archbell sees more room for improvement.

“We got a little unfundemental at times and it burned us every single time today, we’ve got to learn from that,” said Archbell. “We played well, just not well enough to win.”

Bowdoin’s Kujala felt the same.

“We need to do better with the little things. We had turnovers and too many flags towards the end,” said the senior attacker. “I still don’t think we’ve nearly reached our potential. We came out and showed we can hang with a top-five program in the country, and without those mistakes, ultimately beat them.”

Senior captain Crowell and Bulens each had three goals and an assist for the Polar Bears. Young stopped 12 shots in net, while Mitchell made six before Gib Versfeld replaced him in the fourth quarter, making one save.

The teams were relatively close in shots, with Amherst holding a slight advantage, 44- 43. Bowdoin was 4-for-6 with the man advantage, while Amherst was 2-for-4.

Bowdoin heads to Davenport, Florida, this week to take on Endicott on Wednesday (2 p.m.) and Hamilton on Saturday (noon).

“We go to Florida next week, we leave on Monday (today),” said Kujala between the mass of snowflakes falling to the field. “You don’t want to look too far ahead, but it’s very welcoming right now to head down there.”

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