An injury-ridden women’s hockey team (3-3-1, 0-1-0 ECAC-Northern) travels to upstate New York this weekend to face Cornell (1-7, 0-2) and Colgate (4-5-1, 0-1-1) in two winnable league games for the Bulldogs.

“This weekend is huge for us, and there is no reason to think we can’t walk away with two league victories,” captain Katie Hirte ’02 said.

After opening the season with an unbeaten 3-0-1 record, the Elis dropped their next three games to fall to .500, as injuries to forwards Karin Tilly ’03 and Wallis Finger ’04 and defender Amy LeClair ’03 depleted the numbers of an already small team.

Both Finger and LeClair will be sidelined this weekend, and Finger will not return to the ice until January after reinjuring a shoulder that had been operated on over the summer. Forward Erin Duggan ’05 sustained a concussion against Boston College Sunday and will be out of the lineup as well.

“Right now we have some key injuries, which means everyone is going to have to raise the level of their play,” said forward Nicole Symington ’05, the team’s leading scorer with 6 goals and three assists.

Last weekend, the Elis suffered from a lack of scoring in their 3-1 and 3-0 losses to the University of Connecticut and Boston College. As a result, the team has worked this week in practice to try to rekindle its offensive spark, with forwards concentrating on increased aggressiveness in the corners and better pressure during the forecheck.

After being outshot from the point by Boston College last Sunday, Yale’s defenders have focused on getting shots off more quickly from the blue line, which will spread out the Elis’ shot attempts and create more space for the forwards to operate in front of the opposing net.

Forward Deanna McDevitt ’03 said that one of Yale’s downfalls has been their inconsistent play within each game.

“We just can’t wait until the third period to start playing,” she said. “We have to be ready from the first drop of the puck and play with a sense of urgency.”

It will be important for the Elis to take advantage of their opponents this weekend. Cornell’s season has gotten off to a rocky 1-7 start while Colgate is in its first year as a Division I program. Both teams are ECAC-N opponents for Yale, providing an excellent opportunity to rise in league standings before Christmas break.

The team’s first game this weekend will be Friday night in Ithaca, N.Y., against a reeling Cornell. Big Red coach Carol Mullins said that her team “has been struggling” this season despite having many veterans on the roster. After being shut out twice by Maine and once each by ECAC-N teams Harvard and Brown, Cornell’s lone win was a 3-0 victory over Findlay.

“We’ve made some changes after each weekend and we seem to be OK healthwise,” Mullins said. “We’re focusing on individual progress and making sure the players know what they have to do.”

The Colgate game stands to be a tougher test for the Bulldogs. While the Raiders are new to Division I hockey, they have had a strong showing against ECAC-N opponents so far this season, tying Harvard and losing to Brown in a close 2-1 game.

The Raiders, a young team whose top three offensive lines consist of freshmen and sophomores, were able to make the transition to Division I with little trouble.

“It was fairly easy for us getting into the league because the ECAC wants to match the women’s league with the men,” Colgate head coach Tim Wisner said. “It’s enjoyable — you certainly get a lot more press — and it’s a better atmosphere and caliber of play.”

Like Yale, Colgate splits time between two goalies, and Wisner said he was not sure which one would be in net Saturday.

Marchetti stressed that the Bulldogs will need to overcome fatigue after playing back-to-back games with such a limited roster.

“We’re not very healthy right now, so we’re going into the weekend with that against us,” he said.