For the women’s lacrosse team, the spring break destination was first place in the Ivy League, and the souvenir the Bulldogs brought home to New Haven was momentum.

After falling to James Madison, Yale (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) reeled off three straight victories, beating Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Dartmouth. Although the season is young, the two Ivy League wins have the No. 14 Bulldogs in first place and playing with a full head of steam.

“As a team, we finally realize we have so much talent,” captain Megan Strenski ’02 said. “We know we are dangerous.”

Heading into Saturday’s game at Dartmouth (3-2, 1-1), the Elis knew they were facing an early season test in the No. 9 Big Green — who shared last year’s Ivy League championship with Princeton. The Bulldogs responded with an impressive 9-6 win.

Trailing 3-0, the Big Green scored four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead 20 minutes into the first half. Unfazed by the Big Green onslaught, Yale tied the game a minute later on a goal by Sarah Queener ’03 and reclaimed the lead, 5-4, on a Katie Sargent ’05 tally three minutes before halftime.

Less than a minute and a half into the second half, Sophia Melniker ’04 scored her third goal of the game to increase the Yale advantage to 6-4. Clarrisa Clarke ’03 added a pair of goals and Queener netted her second of the game to give Yale a 9-4 lead with less than 18 minutes to play. The span of six unanswered Eli goals put Dartmouth away for good.

“It was an incredible team effort on both sides of the field,” Miles Whitman ’04 said. “We definitely pulled it all together in the Dartmouth game. We played a complete game for the first time all season.”

Prior to the Dartmouth win, the Elis kicked off their 2002 Ivy campaign with a 17-10 thrashing of No. 18 Penn (2-3, 0-2) Saturday March 16 in New Haven.

Whitman, last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Yale’s leading scorer, tallied six goals in the win. Five of her goals came in the first half as Yale jumped out a 13-3 halftime lead.

The 17-goal game is Yale’s biggest offensive outburst in the young 2002 season. On top of Whitman’s six goals, multiple goals were scored by Clarke (3), Queener (3), Melniker (2) and Sarah Driscoll ’05 (2).

“We had been feeling as though our offensive production was not what it could have been,” Whitman said. “We had been concentrating a lot in practice on finding the net.”

Before beginning Ivy play, the Bulldogs tuned up with a pair of non-conference games against James Madison and Connecticut.

On the strength of three-goal games by Melniker, Clarke and Sargent, the Bulldogs posted a 12-8 win over Connecticut (2-3) Wednesday March 13 in New Haven.

Against the No. 13 James Madison (5-4) Sunday March 10, the Elis jumped out to a 5-1 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. The lead would not last long, as the Dukes scored the next six goals to go up 7-5 with less than three minutes to play in the first half.

Yale knotted the score at 8-8 on a Whitman goal ten minutes into the second half, but the Dukes scored six of the game’s final seven goals to post a 14-9 win.

“It was a good wake up call for us,” Strenski said. “We didn’t get beat by a better team. They just wanted to win more. That was really frustrating.”

The team returns to action Wednesday with a game at Boston University.