LEXINGTON, Va. — Bowdoin College’s quest for a fifth NCAA Division III field hockey title in eight seasons fell short Sunday as the Polar Bears lost 2-0 to The College of New Jersey in the national championship game at Washington & Lee University.

Bowdoin (19-3), which was 4-0 in previous championship games, was held scoreless for only the second time this year despite a statistical edge in shots (16-7), shots on goal (6-3) and penalty corners (9-3). Coach Nicky Pearson said the pressure applied by TCNJ (23-1) caused the Polar Bears (19-3) to have trouble mounting an attack.

“For much of the game they had us on our heels,” Pearson said. “At the end, there was a lot more offense, but we were missing that in the first half.”

It’s the 11th NCAA field hockey title for the Lions, who controlled the ball for much of the first half, mostly around the 25-yard line. They struck for two goals in a 5-minute span to take a 2-0 halftime lead.

Colleen Finnerty, a senior captain for Bowdoin, said the Polar Bears struggled to adjust to TCNJ’s tactics.

“They play a different style than we play,” Finnerty said. “We were trying to figure out how they were playing and how to work around that. They exploited the chances they had. They created great opportunities and took advantage.”

With 12 minutes left in the first half, TCNJ’s Victoria Martin lifted the ball toward the net from the high left slot. Erin Healy put a slight deflection on it, as did Jaclyn Douglas, who poked it just inside the goal post.

“We knew we were working the ball and had more control of the ball,” said Healy. “To break through and get that goal on the board was a huge relief. It showed us we could score.”

Healy scored the second goal from about 3 yards out when a pass from Lexi Smith found her undefended. Bowdoin goalie Hannah Gartner was forced to play Smith to shoot, but when Smith sent the ball to Healy instead, Gartner had no chance to stop it.

The Polar Bears desperately tried to rally in the second half, earning six penalty corners in the final 15 minutes, but they were unable to capitalize on any of them.

“Full credit to The College of New Jersey. They’re a worthy winner,” Pearson said.

Pearson said it was frustrating seeing five good shots turned aside in the second half.

“If we score a goal, maybe there’s a change in momentum and we get another one,” Pearson said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way.”

The loss snapped a 55-game nonconference winning streak for the Polar Bears dating back to a loss against Messiah in the 2005 NCAA semifinals. Bowdoin dropped to 25-8 all-time in NCAA tournament games.

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