Katherine Ling ’03 took a page out of Eleni Benson’s ’05 playbook Saturday to lead the women’s soccer team to a 3-2 win at Harvard.

Sneaking up from the backfield, Ling used several dribbles to evade the defense and squirted the ball between the legs of Crimson goalie Maja Agustsdottir for the game-winner in the 87th minute.

“It’s what Eleni [Benson] has been doing all year,” Ling said.

Benson, a defender, has emerged as one of the Bulldogs’ leading scoring threats this season.

Ling, normally a forward, stepped in for Maureen Metzger ’05 in the backfield. Metzger is ill with mononucleosis.

“I guess it’s ironic. It’s funny,” Ling said. “I like to play more aggressively, but on defense I had to keep my mark. It was fun. I could sneak attack.”

Ling’s move in the 87th minute produced perhaps the Bulldogs’ biggest goal of the season. With Saturday’s win against the Cantabs (6-5-1, 2-1-1 Ivy), Yale (7-3-1, 2-2) stopped a two-game losing skid and sustained its post-season hopes.

“The win was important not just because it was Harvard or Ivy League, but it was against a good team,” forward Chandra King ’03 said. “This was a break out game. We reached the next level with the win against Hartford. Now, we proved we belong there.”

Heavy winds made play difficult for the Bulldogs in the opening half.

“The first half was exhausting. We were playing against the wind and had difficulty clearing the ball,” Ling said.

But despite the harsh conditions, the Bulldogs led 1-0 at the break. At 37:15, Ali Cobbett ’03 crossed to Laurel Karnes ’06, who left-footed a shot that bounced off the far post into the goal.

“Once Laurel [Karnes] gets the ball in the box, she never misses,” King said. “Finally, the post helped us. All season, we’ve hit the post and missed.”

Yale extended its lead in the 57th minute. Ling delivered a long ball to King, who sprinted down the wing and nestled the ball inside the post.

But Harvard, led by Joey Yenne, regrouped and mounted a comeback. At 64:06, Yenne made a pretty move, pushing the ball to the right before blasting a shot past goalkeeper Lindsay Sabel ’03.

Fifteen minutes later, Yenne found teammate Beth Totman, who capitalized on Yale miscommunication and tied the score. A mix-up in the backfield between Ling and Jennie Garver ’03 left Totman an opening in the box.

“We had a bit of a letdown in the second half. We got a little sloppy,” said Ling, who in the final minutes of play, gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.

The Cantabs provided one final scare. A questionable foul gave Harvard a free kick outside the 18-yard-line. The situation was all too familiar for the Bulldogs, who last year fell to their Cambridge rivals in overtime on a free kick.

But as Katie Westfall’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar and out of bounds, the Bulldogs breathed a big sigh of relief.

“I was scared. We knew we couldn’t lose like that. Not like last year,” King said. “It was a really good game. It was really intense. We wanted to go out there and show that we are not a fluke, that we are 7-3-1 for a reason.”

And while Yale likely will not receive the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, Sunday’s victory moves the Elis into better position for an at-large bid.

“By beating Harvard, we greatly improved our chances of making the NCAAs,” Ling said.

Yale next travels to Fairfield to take on the Stags on Oct. 22.