BRUNSWICK, Maine – The Connecticut College men's lacrosse team dropped its season opener to Bowdoin by an 8-7 score in an overtime thriller on Saturday afternoon at Whittier Field.
With the score tied at 7-7 and under two minutes remaining in regulation, both teams had one opportunity to net the game-winning marker. Connecticut College had the first opportunity following a timeout taken with 1:31 left, but a pass from senior captain PJ Kelleher (Walpole, Mass.) which was intended for classmate Jordan Foster (Las Vegas, Nev.) was broken up by Kendall Rogers. The Polar Bears then successfully cleared the ball and called a timeout with 31 seconds remaining. Senior captain and defender TJ Noonan (Wellesley, Mass.), however, knocked down a pass from Nick Conway and scooped up the ground ball to eventually force overtime.
Connecticut College (0-1, NESCAC 0-1) had a golden opportunity to score in overtime with under a minute remaining. Jon Creed (Ridgewood, N.J.) sent a pass to junior Brandon Plante (Urbana, Md.) behind the goal, and the junior found a cutting Patrick Linehan (Baltimore, Md.) for a high percentage shot from the left side. Unfortunately for the Camels, the freshman's attempt clinked off the post and was eventually picked up by Polar Bear goalie Jack O'Connor to begin the decisive scoring play of the game. The junior netminder passed the ball up to captain Cal Fullerton, who raced up the field in transition and finished on the other end with 39.6 seconds remaining to give the hosts the sudden victory.
Bowdoin (1-0, NESCAC 1-0) outshot the Camels by a commanding 17-2 margin during the first quarter, but the host school only owned a two-goal advantage through 15 minutes of play thanks to a strong defensive effort by the Camels. The Polar Bears scored two quick goals by getting markers from Jake Crossman at 13:17 and Zach Chandler less than three minutes later and never surrendered the lead. After Foster put the Camels on the board at 5:37, the hosts had an answer to move ahead by a 3-1 score at the end of the frame.
An opportunistic Connecticut College squad shook off the slow start and was able to knot the score at 3-3 in the opening minutes of the second. Following a successful clear, Creed found Plante through a traffic jam of Polar Bears at 12:44, and Kelleher netted the equalizer just 1:16 later. However, the Camels were unable to move ahead. Reed Baker split the defense to net a go-ahead marker at 10:43, and the hosts clinged to a 5-4 lead at recess.
Despite the lopsided shot total, the Camels remained within striking distance throughout the third quarter when the teams exchanged goals. Both teams failed to cash in on a man-up opportunity, and a first career marker by the Camels' Linehan made it 6-5 through 30 minutes of action.
Bowdoin continued applying pressure in the fourth quarter. The Camels dodged a bullet when Baker fired a high percentage shot off the pipe and Jeff Powers' rebound attempt sailed high less than six minutes into the frame, but the hosts were able still able to regain a two-goal advantage when Conway found Chandler at 7:58.
Connecticut College, however, found a way to tie the game for the second time with Foster factoring into each tally. Plante first sliced the deficit in half by taking a short pass from Foster and benefiting from the new crease rule on an athletic play with 6:13 remaining. Just 58 seconds later, Foster took the ball from out of bounds and snuck a shot past O'Connor.
The Camels had multiple opportunities to take their first lead in the final minutes of regulation, beginning when Bowdoin's Will Murtagh was whistled off the field for pushing with 2:06 remaining. Despite having to play a man down, the Polar Bears fought off the man-up opportunity and would later capitalize on a transition play in overtime to escape with a season-opening victory.
In a game that was moved up two hours to 11:00 a.m. to get ahead of an impending snowstorm, Bowdoin outshot the Camels by a 48-19 margin and had a 22-16 advantage in ground balls. Led by Henry Savage's three, the Polar Bear defense caused 16 turnovers, and the team had a 10-9 edge in faceoffs. O'Connor made six saves between the pipes. Conway set up three goals to lead the offense, while Crossman and Chandler each found the back of the net twice.
Foster led Connecticut College with four points on two goals and a pair of assists. Sophomore faceoff specialist Toby Almeida (Cumberland, R.I.) picked up a game-high six ground balls, while seniors Brian Maguire (Ridgefield, Conn.) and Noonan led the defensive unit. Maguire finished with three ground balls to go along with a caused turnover, and Noonan finished with two caused turnovers and a ground ball. Junior Colin Smith (Mount Kisco, N.Y.) made his first career start in the cage and turned away 15 shots.
Connecticut College returns to New London and will entertain New England College in its home opener on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.