After some much-needed rest over Christmas break, the women’s hockey team (5-9-1, 2-5-0 ECAC-Northern) was jolted back to reality when it entered 2002 with four games against league opponents.

In their first game on Jan. 6, the Elis bested Vermont (1-17-1, 0-10-0) in a 3-0 game, but they followed the victory with three losses, all to top ECAC-N teams. After falling 8-3 to Dartmouth (11-2-1, 7-1-0), the Bulldogs lost 7-2 to Harvard (9-7-1, 4-2-1) and 9-3 to Brown (9-6-1, 6-3-0).

Sara Wood ’02 scored four goals in the four games and added an assist, while freshmen Nicole Symington and Erin Duggan combined for three goals and 10 assists in the games.

Yale is now tied with Cornell for sixth place in the nine-team league.

The Bulldogs struck early in their victory over Vermont, dominating play throughout the game. Wood scored just 5:16 into the game off assists from Deanna McDevitt ’03 and Symington.

With three minutes remaining in the first period, Duggan extended the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 when she converted Kirstin Wick ’05 and Ali Turney’s ’05 assists. Rory Neuner ’03 then cemented the victory 9:25 into the second period, with assists from Duggan and Wallis Finger ’04, who returned to the team after being out of the lineup with an injured shoulder.

The Catamounts managed to get off 20 shots in the loss, but captain Katie Hirte ’02 was strong in goal, stifling all of Vermont’s attempts.

“We were a little rusty and just not quite all there, but we played well enough to get the win,” Symington said.

Despite the promising start to the new year, the team could not maintain its success in its next three games. Wood scored just 23 seconds into the game against league-leading Dartmouth, but nine minutes later, the Big Green scored two goals 15 seconds apart, then added a third to make the score 3-1 going into the second period.

Yale began to mount a comeback, with Symington notching a power-play goal 37 seconds into the period, but Dartmouth responded with four unanswered goals, including two short-handed goals by Sarah Clark.

“We came out against Dartmouth really hard and scored the first goal which put them back on their heels,” McDevitt said. “They just had more depth than we did.”

Carly Haggard scored her second goal of the game for Dartmouth at 5:29 into the third period to put the score at 8-2. The final goal of the game came when Wood recorded a goal on the power play off an assist from Symington to make the final score of 8-3.

“Our power play has been working better lately, which was a big positive,” Symington said. “We just need to clamp down defensively and not let them score so many goals.”

Nicolette Franck ’04, who was in goal for Yale, made 38 saves in the loss, including 16 in the first period alone.

This past weekend, Harvard and Brown traveled to New Haven.

The Crimson, who are in fifth place in the ECAC-N, opened the game with a quick goal from Vanessa Bazzocchi at 1:53, but Neuner tied up the game at 1-1 with assists from Duggan and McDevitt at 6:29. The game remained tied until 6:36 into the second period, when Nicole Corriero put the puck past Hirte, who would finish with 39 saves.

“We were right in the game until the end because Hirte made some huge saves,” Symington said. “She kept us in it until the end, then we just ran out of gas.”

After Kaitlin Porcaro ’03 took a checking penalty 11:11 into the second, Kalen Ingram extended Harvard’s lead to 3-1, but Wood answered to bring the Elis back into the game, 3-2.

The third period, however, belonged to the Cantabs, as they scored four unanswered goals to gain the league victory, 7-2.

“We were in the game the whole game,” McDevitt said. “It really wasn’t a 7-2 game. We fell apart right at the end, and they scored a few, but we gave them a good game.”

The team’s roster size, which is smaller than many of its opponents, was a factor in the three losses.

“I don’t know if we knew quite how how much it was going to affect us having a short bench,” Neuner said.

Sunday, the Elis faced the Brown Bears, who are tied with Princeton for second place in the league. Kristy Zamora, Jessica Link and Mandy McCurdy each scored to give Brown a 3-0 lead at the start of the third period, but McDevitt converted a power-play goal with assists from Duggan and Symington to narrow the deficit to 3-1.

But Brown’s Katie Guay responded by scoring four consecutive goals to give Brown a 7-1 lead, which soon became 9-1 after McCurdy and Zamora scored 30 seconds apart.

“They were sending one of their forwards up high, and that threw us off because we weren’t expecting it,” McDevitt said. “We didn’t change our system and we just didn’t play that well overall.”

In the final two minutes of the game, Finger and Symington each got by Brown goaltender Katie Germain, but the late effort was not enough to overcome the eight-goal deficit, and the Elis lost, 9-3.

“I just think we need to play better team defense,” Neuner said. “We allowed 24 goals in three games, and that’s not really where we want to be.”

This weekend, the team will travel to Boston to play Boston College and Northeastern University, both non-league games. Earlier this season, the Elis lost to BC, 3-0.

“We’re hoping to get back and give them a better game than we did,” McDevitt said.