“Can you make [the official clock] go any faster next time?” field hockey head coach Ainslee Lamb asked the scoreboard operator at Johnson Field after Yale’s 1-0 shutout of Holy Cross yesterday.

In the closing minutes of the match, Holy Cross (1-4) launched a desperation run that fell inches short of tying the game. While taking a free hit, a Crusader stroked the ball into the pipes, but to the thrill of the Bulldogs, officials ruled she was outside of the striking circle.

“We still have to work on maintaining composure, especially at the end of the game” Lamb said. “It’ll come with experience.”

After a scoreless first half, Yale (1-1, Ivy 0-1) huddled at the goal post for a quick strategy session before charging the field with steely determination. With the temperature dropping rapidly, Yale picked up the pace and maintained steady possession.

The Bulldogs, who took 11 shots in the game, were relentless within the circle, bombarding All-American goalie Jennifer Corsilli from all angles, but were only able to net one. At 22:20, dominating midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 scored an unassisted goal.

Driscoll, not afraid to sacrifice her body for a play, was a victim to turf burn with 12:45 left on the clock. She quickly hurried to the sidelines to switch out of her bloodied shirt and played with uniform No. 18 for the remainder of the game.

“It felt great to just come out and play today,” said Driscoll, who normally sports a No. 4 on the back of her jersey. “We opened with a high level of intensity and were able to keep that up.”

The improvements the Bulldogs made since Sunday’s season opening loss to Princeton were apparent from the beginning. The Crusaders attempted only four shots and were kept off kilter for all 70 minutes by Yale’s tightened defense.

Krissy Nesburg ’04, a solid presence between the pipes, recorded three saves and her first shutout of the season. In the second half, with the clock at 18:01, Holy Cross mounted one of its few threats, taking a clear shot at the goal. In her lumbering goalie equipment, Nesburg did not hesitate to throw herself in front of the ball, making a beautiful save.

Yale’s spirited play diminished late in the game, allowing Holy Cross some hope for last minute heroics. Lamb told her team to get the ball to midfielder Jana Halfon ’04 in an attempt to waste the time away. The crowd of 25 nervously tossed their heads from the scoreboard to the field, softly counting down with the clock, and they erupted with joy once the victory was sealed.

Holy Cross, a perennial fixture on Yale’s schedule defeated the Bulldogs, 3-1, last season. In preparation for yesterday’s game, Lamb did not look at the video of that loss, but called up coaches who had already faced the Crusaders this season for a detailed scouting report.

“It helps a lot, getting a rundown from other coaches,” Lamb said.

The Elis will travel to Cambridge this weekend where they will play Harvard (2-1, 1-0) Saturday and Vermont (2-3) Sunday.

“We have a long way to go,” Lamb said. “But we have a strong desire to get better.”