Bates women’s soccer playoff progress leads to Bowdoin — again
NESCAC Women’s Soccer Championship
Semifinals – Saturday, November 5 at Tufts
No. 7 Colby at No. 1 Tufts – 11 a.m.
No. 5 Bates vs. No. 3 Bowdoin – 1:30 p.m.
Championship – Sunday, November 6 at Tufts
Semifinal winners – 12 p.m.
Colby College’s surprising win over Amherst on Sunday in the opening round of the 2005 NESCAC women’s soccer playoffs did more than put all three Maine schools in this weekend’s semifinals.
It also helped perpetuate what has become almost a yearly tradition — namely, that sooner or later, Bates and Bowdoin face one another. Last season, fifth-seeded Bowdoin ended Bates’ season in the first round of the playoffs, with a 3-0 victory in Lewiston. The year before, it was Bates doing the spoiling, as the fourth-seeded Bobcats toppled top-seed Bowdoin 1-0 in the conference semifinals at Brunswick. And in 2001, No. 4 Bowdoin downed No. 5 Bates 3-0 in the first round.
Until now, Bates’ semifinal victory in 2003 was its only trip to the NESCAC semifinals, in the six years of the tournament’s existence. Bowdoin, on the other hand, has made it to the round of four every year thus far, yet has never advanced to the championship game.
The back-and-forth nature of the rivalry continued this regular season, when Bates (11-3-1 overall, 6-3-1 NESCAC) dealt Bowdoin (10-4-1, 7-3) its first loss of the season, a 1-0 result in Lewiston decided on sophomore midfielder Molly Wagner’s (Longmeadow, Mass.) first-half goal.
“That was a very evenly matched game. Frankly, I think they’re the best team we’ve played all year,” said Bates head coach Jim Murphy. “Bowdoin has fast, quick athletes, and they’re very skilled.”
Bowdoin boasts the current NESCAC Player of the Week in Ann Zeigler, who scored a hat trick in the Polar Bears’ final regular season game against Wesleyan and followed that up with a goal and an assist in their 5-1 first-round playoff victory over Middlebury. Zeigler’s 10 goals rank her in a tie for third in the conference, behind only Tufts’ Ariel Samuelson and Bates’ Kim Alexander (Cumberland, Maine), who each have 11.
The hallmark for the Bobcats this season has been scoring: Bates averages 3.07 goals per game, a whopping 0.80 per game better than Bowdoin, which is second in the NESCAC at 2.27 per game. In addition to Alexander, junior forward Jesse Gargiulo (Boxborough, Mass.), junior defender Meg Coffin (Westford, Mass.) and Wagner are all among the league’s top 12 goal-scorers, with seven, six and five, respectively.
And while Bates has yet to be shut out of any game this season, Bowdoin has been on the winning end of six shutouts.
“Anything can happen,” said Murphy. “I say it all the time, but there are no upsets in women’s soccer in the NESCAC. There could be three teams from Connecticut in the semifinals, or three teams from Massachusetts. It’s that balanced.”
If you go: Due to ongoing construction projects there will be limited parking this weekend near Tufts’ playing field. The parking garage on Boston Avenue will be free for contest parking. Bus and vans will be expected to drop off teams at site and then will be directed to Cousens parking lot until teams are ready for departure. Contact Tufts Athletic Facilities Coordinator Rick Miller via mail, email (email@example.com) or phone 617-627-3247 with questions.