Leah Kowalasky, right, of Eastern Connecticut State and Manveer Sandhu of Bowdoin battle for the ball during Wednesday’s NCAA Division III field hockey tournament game at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — The Bowdoin College field hockey team is in the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time since 2015, and the Polar Bears will get to stick around a little while.

Jill Cloonan scored three goals – all in the opening 14 minutes – and the Polar Bears cruised to a 9-0 victory over Eastern Connecticut State in an opening-round game Wednesday night. Claudia Kriz added a pair of goals.

Bowdoin (15-4) advanced to the Round of 16 on Saturday at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where it will face Centre College of Danville, Kentucky. Centre beat Christopher Newport of Newport News, Virginia, 2-1 in double overtime.

Eastern Connecticut State, the Little East Conference champion, finished 14-6.

“I think it all started with our warmups, we had the energy in pregame that we wanted to bring during the game,” said Cloonan, a sophomore from Woburn, Massachusetts. “We’re electric. We wanted to set the tone and pace of the game early on and dictate it throughout, so that’s what we did.”

The Polar Bears navigated a tough New England Small College Athletic Conference schedule and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after losing 4-3 to Middlebury in the NESCAC championship game. The loss, players said Wednesday, provided some extra motivation against Eastern Connecticut.


“I think that gives us the fire we need going into these next few games,” said Kriz. “Knowing that we have a possible opportunity later on in the tournament to go up against them again just adds to that. Our team dynamic has really excelled over the past few weeks. We’re definitely not done yet. We’re keeping to the basics and working really hard in practice, we’re excited to see what we can do during this championship weekend.”

Maya Malenfant, Olivia Cunningham, Sophia Rutman and Aubrey Demurjian also scored for the Polar Bears. Malenfant had two assists.

Cloonan’s first goal came just 1:41 into the game when she blasted home a pass from Georgie Coetzer on Bowdoin’s second consecutive penalty corner. She doubled the lead about 10 minutes later after getting around a couple of defenders before finding the back of the cage.

“I was just in the right spot for most of those,” she said.

Eastern Connecticut mustered just two shots, both of which Bowdoin reserve goalie Delaney Bashaw turned aside. Bashaw came on in relief of starter Maddie Ferrucci, who didn’t face a shot.

Bowdoin was awarded six penalty corners, including five in the first quarter. Eastern Connecticut goalie Sarah Gallagher made eight saves.

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