WATERVILLE — No matter what happens the rest of the season, the Colby College women’s lacrosse team will know it has what it takes to make a comeback.

The Mules trailed big-time rival Bowdoin by three goals with time winding down in the first half. Colby fought back, and was tied up when senior Lindsey McKenna scored on a pass from Alex Mintz with 35.9 seconds left to give the Mules a dramatic 11-10 victory on Tuesday night at Bill Alfond Field.

“We’ve definitely been down before,” McKenna said. “In past games, we’ve come back and we’ve tied it. We haven’t pulled ahead. So I think once we pulled ahead, that clinched for us, where we just kind of knew that we could take it all the way from there.”

McKenna scored five goals as the Mules improved to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Colby was coming off a 12-5 loss to an Amherst team ranked No. 3 in the country in Division III. The Mules had earlier played No. 1 ranked Salisbury to a 9-7 loss, but there was talk about consistency and the need to play for 60 minutes.

“I think (tonight) was big for us because we all came together,” Colby coach Karen MacCrate Henning said. “Like the intensity — we stayed intense for the full 60 minutes. We may have made mistakes, but we rebounded from those mistakes. Even mentally, we didn’t get caught up in anything. We just responded with something else and made it positive, which is awesome.”

Bowdoin (5-5 overall, 3-5 NESCAC) led 7-4 after Betsy Sachs scored one of her four goals with 3:11 left in the first half. Colby pulled within 7-6 by halftime, and went ahead 8-7 when Lindsay McCabe sent home a free position shot.

The Polar Bears retaliated with the next two goals, but then Colby scored two straight to lead 10-9. The score stayed that way until Sachs tied it up at 10 with 3:13 to go.

Colby lost the ensuing draw control, but McKenna scooped up a ground ball and the Mules passed the ball around until calling a timeout with exactly one minute to play. After play resumed, the Mules worked the ball around until Mintz found McKenna flashing to the net for the goal.

“We had a play set up,” McKenna said. “I think that’s the way it goes, where it just kind of falls through and we just kind of made something happen. Right place, right time, and Alex Mintz had a really nice pass.”

The next draw control was a huge one. Thanks to Gemma Bready, Abby Hatch, and McKenna, Colby had a 14-9 advantage in draw controls on the night. On this one, the ball shot almost straight up in the air, and McKenna was able to whack it over to freshman Emilie Klein, and the Mules ran out the clock.

The Mules bench celebrated the win by screaming and dashing over to goalkeeper Michelle Burt, before dancing to “Runaround Sue,” their victory song. Colby was noticebaly more animated than in previous games, and Burt was one of the reasons. Although she had only four saves, she grabbed five ground balls and caused three turnovers with her aggressive play. With Bowdoin leading 9-8 and a little over 19 minutes remaining in the game, Burt made two huge back-to-back saves — reaching across her body for a backhand deflection on the second one — prompting a couple “You’re an animal!” calls from the Colby bench.

“Mich played a great game, but I think it was her activity outside the cage and her confidence in everyone around her that helped us kind of take that next step forward,” Henning said. “And her confidence in herself, knowing things might not always go your way. Same on attack — you might miss a shot, but then you take the next one. So she had that attitude, and it was helpful. Contagious.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243 [email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo