It may have been cold, but the barn was certainly burning at Stagg Field on Tuesday night as the Springfield College Pride dropped their decision to the Polar Bears of Bowdoin College by a margin of 10-9.
Bowdoin, on paper, was the underdog coming into the tussle, unranked in the polls while Springfield was No. 13 in the nation. The Polar Bears certainly came into the game defensively, only squandering nine goals to New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference-leading 13.40 goals per game average that the Pride had assembled over six games.
The game was highlighted by individual standouts, as junior midfielder Bryce Serriello had a three-goal performance alongside his positional counterpart, Tyler Williams of Bowdoin who also notched three goals of his own.
The lacrosse game felt more like that of a chess match, as most of the game was spent with one team grabbing a goal, while the opposition patiently countered it. With the game feeling like it was a roughly 58-minute tie until Brett Kujala lit the lap one final time for Bowdoin with 2:20 left to play in the game.
Goaltending was a moderate issue for both sides, as Pride goalie Connor Nash only managed a 8 saves on 18 shots, a .444 percentage, well lower than his season average of .612.
The other Connor in net, Connor Laughlin of the Polar Bears had a sub-par performance as well, with 8 saves on 17 chances, a .470 percentage in the game as opposed to his season average of .544.
Nevertheless, both goalies made the opposition earn their goals as lights out, sprawling saves were made on more than one occasion.
During the closing minutes, however, missed opportunities became the ongoing theme for the Pride as shot after shot seemed unable to find not only the back of the net, but the net at all whilst committing detrimental penalties.
“We had a couple of bad penalties,” said senior attack Ryan Murphy, who was assessed a pushing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 2:48 that opened the door for Kujala’s game winner 28 seconds later. “We possessed the ball well and our defense held them well we just couldn’t put them away at the end,” he added.
One moment specifically hurt the Pride with less than a minute to go when they were given a final opportunity with the ball as a result of the stalling penalty assessed to Bowdoin. Immediately upon the blown whistle, a botched clear from a miscued pass resulted in Bowdoin regaining possession, which they, in turn, refused to relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Despite a 214 mile bus ride earlier in the day, the Polar Bears looked fresher than ever and per usual, gave the Pride a challenging game.
“It’s a game of inches,” said Springfield Head Coach Keith Bugbee. “Bowdoin played really well, and for us to beat a team that was playing that well, we had to be pretty much spot on everything, and I thought we weren’t perfect in some areas… There was no room for error and I thought we had a couple of errors.”
The Pride are looking to move forward as they will endure their first conference match against rival Wheaton on Saturday, “”We just have to keep working hard and look forward to the next game,” said junior attackman Dylan Sheehan.
With the loss the Pride slip to 5-2 on the season, still the most wins in the NEWMAC entering conference play. While no loss is a good loss, upon doing the postgame “ball hunt” and exit from Stagg Field, the shouting of optimistic words from players and coaches hinted that the focus was already shifted to Saturday, and that Tuesday’s loss was just a bump in road on the long journey the Pride are on to hoist the championship trophy in Baltimore come this May.