The women’s water polo team opened their fall season Nov. 2-3 at the Yale Fall Invitational.

The Bulldogs hosted three teams at the Invitational, including fellow Ivy League competitors Cornell and Columbia as well as Pennsylvania State University. Yale finished with a 3-1 record at the round robin tournament, losing its first game to Columbia, 6-7.

In the first game against Columbia, the Bulldogs’ first official match as a team, the Elis had a difficult time finding their rhythm as a team. Yale competed in a scrimmage against Wesleyan earlier this fall, but the entire team did not compete.

There is still a lot that the team needs to work on before the spring season starts.

“We need to gain more confidence in our perimeter shots,” co-captain Giovanni Masci ’03 said. “And our driving needs a lot of improvement as well.”

As the weekend progressed, however, the Bulldogs improved significantly, beating Cornell 12-5 in the second match. They then defeated Columbia in their second meeting 9-8 wrapping up the tournament by beating Penn State 8-4.

The second game against Columbia was quite a drastic departure from the first. By the end of the first half, Yale was ahead 9-4. The Bulldogs emptied their entire bench in the second half.

The co-captain Jill McSorely ’03 was impressed with how much the team improved from the first game.

“With each game we became more aware of what was going on in the pool,” McSorely said. “Both our passing and our shots got much better.”

In all of the games, Yale’s defense was the strongest part of the Bulldogs’ game. Against Columbia, the Bulldogs did not allow a shot on goal in the first quarter. Despite their prowess on defense, the Bulldogs could not match their defensive skill on offense.

“So far we have been relying on our defense to win games,” said Masci. “Now we need to work on playing a more offensive-oriented style of play to get ready for some of the tougher competition.”

Some of the major competitors for the women’s water polo team this year will include Dartmouth, Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and California Polytechnical Institute.

In addition to a lack of game experience this year, the Bulldogs are also facing the loss of a large number of seniors who were major contributors last season. Last year’s captains, Emily Bailard ’03 and Alexis Slate ’03, who were two of the high scorers at the invitational, will have to pick up the slack along with the rest of the returning players.

First-year head coach Jennifer Halverson DIV ’03, who played on the team last year, will also help the Elis in their efforts this winter.

“The captains and coach Halverson are huge leaders for us,” said Main. “The fact that [coach Halverson] used to play for the team helps us relate to her really well.”

The Bulldogs will wrap up their fall season with two more games to be determined at a later date, and their regular season will begin once they return from winter break.