BRUNSWICK — Rachel Kennedy scored with four minutes remaining in the first overtime to lift the Bowdoin College field hockey team to a 2-1 win over Skidmore and punch the Polar Bears’ second consecutive ticket to the NCAA Final Four.

The defending national champion Polar Bears (18-2) advanced to their eighth Final Four in the past 10 years and improved to 26-7 all-time in tournament action. The Thoroughbreds ended at 17-4 after making their eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance and 14th overall.

Skidmore put Bowdoin in a quick hole, scoring 5:05 into the opening frame, following pressure in the circle off a penalty corner. Leading scorer Dani DeGregory connected with a loose ball as it came across cage to the right post and put her team up 1-0.

Seeley Fancher almost added another Thoroughbreds goal in the 20th minute, as she had an open look from the left post. Meredith Tibbals came up with a big mid-air defensive save to keep Skidmore from doubling its lead. Colleen Finnerty saw her bid to tie the game clink off the left post with five minutes left in the period.

Bowdoin leveled the score with just 13:36 remaining, finally besting Skidmore keeper Amy Beck after 12 shot attempts.

Pam Herter broke away down the left side of the field, chasing the ball down as it was inches from the end line, and made a reverse stick pass to Kennedy who one-timed it for the equalizer.

Bowdoin continued to apply pressure with several threatening scoring opportunities, including a give-and-go between Kennedy and Adrienne O’Donnell that was broken up by a diving Beck with under 10 minutes to play. Skidmore came right back down the field, earning a penalty corner with four minutes remaining, only to have Finnerty stop a line drive at the goal mouth.

With the teams knotted at 1-1, 15 minutes were put on the clock for a sudden-victory overtime period.

Bowdoin pressured early, earning a penalty corner only one minute into play, and saw another shot bounce off the post at 10:38 from O’Donnell. Again, the Thoroughbreds stormed back down the field and earned six consecutive penalty corners and directed three shots on Gartner.

Finally earning the call for a 16-yard hit, Finnerty quickly connected with Kennedy at midfield. With no Skidmore defenders between herself and the circle, the junior forward kicked into gear and drew Beck into a one-on-one.

The senior goalie stretched out, forcing Kennedy to make a big pull to the right. Kennedy maintained control and slid a hard shot to the far left corner as the Bowdoin bench erupted 11:13 into overtime.

Beck made 17 total saves for the Thoroughbreds, including 11 in the second half. Gartner stopped six total shots for Bowdoin, coming up big with three saves in overtime. The Polar Bears outshot Skidmore 29-11, with the Thoroughbreds holding an 11-10 edge in corners.

Bowdoin will travel to the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington, Va., for next weekend’s Final Four. The Polar Bears will face Salisbury University in a rematch of last year’s National Championship game. More information will be announced on Monday.


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