The women’s soccer team cannot seem to catch a break. The Bulldogs has proven time and again they can compete with the top teams in the Ivy league, but Yale never seems able to turn that competitiveness into a win.

After keeping third-place University of Pennsylvania (10-1-1, 3-1 Ivy) scoreless in the first half, the Bulldogs (4-6-1, 0-3-1 Ivy) gave up two second half goals, falling 2-1 in Philadelphia. The game was knotted at zero until freshman Amy Salomon scored for the Quakers at 26:44. Salomon’s teammate, sophomore Ayla Gustafson, added her own goal 20 minutes later.

Captain Sara Ruiz ’02 was the only Yale player to find the back of the net. But Ruiz’s goal with 1:46 left to play was too little, too late.

“At times we played pretty good, at times we were just OK,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “It’s the same stuff, we just can’t score.”

Penn struck first off a corner kick that the Bulldogs were unable to clear. The ensuing scramble in the box resulted in Salomon’s beating goalkeeper Lindsay Sabel ’03 for a 1-0 lead. Gustafson’s goal came on a counterattack after the Bulldogs tried to push forward to even the score. With under two minutes to go, Ruiz volleyed a LeeAnne Jasper ’04 corner kick past Penn goalie Sally Tedesco to complete the scoring.

The two teams played evenly for most of the game. Yale outshot Penn 7-6, with each goalkeeper making five saves. But the two Penn goals dug the Bulldogs into a hole out of which they could not climb.

The Elis had a difficult time penetrating the Quaker defense, which has held opponents to just 0.7 goals per game. As has been the trend all season, the Bulldogs could not generate many scoring opportunities.

“We wanted to stay away from the center of the field and play out wide and use our attacking wings to take advantage of their weaker outside play,” said Maureen Metzger ’05, who sat out the game with a hip flexor injury. “We did it, but probably not as well as we could have or should have.”

The ailing Bulldogs are slowly starting to heal.

Ruiz started against Penn, after sitting out two matches with an ailing quadriceps. Ritha Belizaire ’02 is about 75 percent healthy after coming back from a bruised foot, Meredith said.

Saturday’s game was Yale’s sixth loss by a one goal margin this season. Against strong teams such as Penn, Harvard, Army and Ohio State, the Bulldogs have fought hard but been unable to translate their skill and effort into a win.

“If you know that you’re competitive in every game and you lose those games, it’s very difficult,” Meredith said. “I give the kids credit for still supporting each other and not pointing fingers at anybody.”

The Elis will next face No. 4 Notre Dame (13-1-1) Tuesday night at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The Fighting Irish have already clinched the Mid-Atlantic Big East division title. If the Bulldogs want any chance of upsetting the Irish, they will have to find a way to score more than one goal — the national powerhouse is averaging 2.5 goals per game.

“We have to try to keep possession of the ball,” Meredith said. “We have to play quicker, maybe one or two touches. They are going to put us under tremendous pressure because they are so athletic.”

The Bulldog defense will have to work especially hard to shut down sophomore Amy Warner, the Big East offensive player of the week for the week of Oct. 15. Warner has tallied seven goals on the season, including two against No. 24 Miami.

“Last year [in the 4-0 loss] we decided to put a lot more people back and have fewer forwards, I’m guessing that we’ll probably do something along those lines,” defender Jennie Garver ’03 said.

Notre Dame is on a quest to return to the NCAA tournament and avenge last season’s disappointing semifinal loss. If the Bulldogs are going to thwart the Fighting Irish’s plans in any way, they will have play near-perfect soccer.

“We’re still the big underdogs but I think this [year’s] game has even more at stake because it’s very important for us to win this if we want to have any shot at making the tournament,” Garver said.