The stage was set for one of the most dramatic wins in the history of the women’s lacrosse team. With a berth to the NCAA tournament on the line, the No. 8 Bulldogs valiantly battled back from a 9-4 deficit against No. 6 Cornell, scoring five goals in the game’s final 10 minutes to force overtime.

The momentum on their side, the Elis were poised to walk off Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field with a thrilling overtime victory. Instead, they walked off the field stinging from a devastating overtime loss, 10-9.

“We had so much heart to come back, just to fall short at the end,” captain Megan Strenski ’02 said.

At the expense of the Elis (10-4, 5-2 Ivy), the Big Red (10-1, 5-1) all but locked up an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. With No. 1 Princeton in command to win the league title and the automatic bid that comes with it, the Bulldogs need to win their remaining two games and hope for the best.

“We lost our chance to dictate our future,” Strenski said. “Hopefully, if some of the teams above us lose, we still have a pretty good shot at getting into the tournament.”

Heading into the overtime riding a streak of five-straight goals, the Elis were optimistic about their chances. When Yale won the opening draw of the extra frame, it seemed like the pieces were finally falling into place for the Bulldogs.

“We all went out there and thought we were going to be able to pull it off,” Katie Sargent ’05 said.

The Bulldogs had their chances in overtime, but Cornell goalie Carrie Giancola made a pair of saves to keep the scores tied.

Then, with 11 seconds left in the first of two 3-minute overtime periods, the Big Red’s Sarah Averson scored the winning goal on a free position. Cornell was able to maintain possession of the ball for most of the second overtime period to run down the clock.

Holding onto a lead was something Cornell was unable to do in regulation. The Big Red was able to capitalize on spotty play from the Elis to score four straight goals in the first 17 minutes of the second half to build a five-goal lead, 9-4.

The same score stood at the 8:19 mark when Sargent’s goal on an 8-meter shot gave Yale its first goal in over 27 minutes and cut the Big Red lead to four.

Three minutes later, Miles Whitman ’04 whittled the deficit to three with an unassisted goal — the only tally of the game for Yale’s leading goal-scorer. With just under four minutes to play Sargent, off a feed from Caroline Petrovick ’03, made it a two-goal contest, 9-7. Eighteen seconds later, after Yale won the draw control, Sarah Driscoll ’05 pulled the Elis to within one. Driscoll did the honors again with less than two minutes left, scoring off a Sarah Queener ’03 pass to complete the comeback and knot the score at 9-9.

“I think the comeback that we made was pretty remarkable,” Sargent said. “I personally would rather lose a game in overtime by one goal than give up and lose the game by five.”

Sargent paced the Elis with five goals, followed by Dricoll’s pair of scores. Amanda Laws ’03 played all 66 minutes in goal for Yale, stopping 11 shots.

On Senior Day at Cornell, Big Red senior goalie Giancola turned away 16 shots, making her the school’s all-time leader in saves with 419 in her career.

The final statistics reflect the narrow final score. Yale outshot Cornell 33-32 and had a 25-24 edge in ground balls, while the Big Red won 12 draw controls to the Elis’ 11.

The Bulldogs return to action for their final home game of the season when they face off against Rutgers Wednesday afternoon at Johnson Field, before wrapping up their regular season Sunday at Hofstra.

“Who knows if we are going to make the tournament,” Sargent said. “Now it is all just about our pride.”