Date Posted:09/05/2006,  1:00PM

2006 Field Hockey Preview

HEAD COACH: Nicky Pearson (11th season, 127-35)

LEADING RETURNERS: Kate Leonard (First-Team All-American, 0.54 GAA, .903 save %), Lindsay McNamara (16 goals, one assist), Hillary Hoffman (10 goals, three assists), Val Young (Second-Team All-NESCAC)

NEWCOMERS: Shavonne Lord, Emily McKinnon, Megan McCullough, Ashley Peterson, Kara Kelley

2005 RECAP (18-1): Unquestionably the best season in Bowdoin field hockey history, the 2005 Polar Bear field hockey team will go down as one of the most memorable squads in the school's athletic history. Bowdoin was the final unbeaten squad in the nation, advancing to the NCAA Semifinals before falling in a 2-1 heartbreaker to Messiah College. The Polar Bears won their second NESCAC Championship in thrilling fashion; in penalty shots over Williams College, and earned the right to host an NCAA Field Hockey regional, where they defeated The College of New Jersey, 2-0, and Springfield, 5-0, to advance to the program's first-ever Final Four.

The Polar Bears collected numerous national honors in addition to Taryn King and Kate Leonard's All-American nods. Margaret Gormley '06 joined them on the NESCAC's First-Team All-Conference and was named Second-Team All-American, while Val Young '08 and Christi Gannon '06 earned Second-Team All-NESCAC choices.

2006 PREVIEW: The Polar Bears graduated several strong components, and with the tragic loss of Taryn King '07 in January, will be challenged as much mentally as physically. On the field, Bowdoin will return a boatload of talent in their attempt to defend their NESCAC Championship, including the majority of their defensive corps that allowed more than one goal just once in 2005.

Offensively, first-year Lindsay McNamara was the NESCAC's top scoring threat (16 goals in 19 games) and Hillary Hoffman came into her own as a sophomore, pitching in 10 goals. As usual, Bowdoin will face a difficult schedule that includes traditional rivals Middlebury and Williams. The Polar Bears will open their 2006 campaign on September 9 and 10 with back-to-back home contests against Wellesley and Wheaton.

DID YOU KNOW?: Coach Nicky Pearson is just three wins away from becoming the winningest Field Hockey coach in Bowdoin history. Pearson's 127 wins are second only to 2006 Hall of Honor Inductee Sally LaPointe, who accumulated 130 wins in her 20 years at the helm.

COACH PEARSON SAYS: "We return only six starters, so it could be a challenging season. We have two new starting midfielders and two new starting defenders, but do return our goalie and two top scorers, so that should be the strength of our team. The NESCAC is always difficult, but I expect that we have enough talent to compete and be successful in the coming year."