The Yale women’s hockey team faced an uphill battle this weekend against nationally ranked No. 5 St. Lawrence in two games at Ingalls Rink.

During the first game on Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs (1-5-0, 1-3-0 ECAC) played strong in the first period, but St. Lawrence (6-0-2, 2-0-0) dominated, taking advantage of Yale penalties. Yale could not hold on and lost, 8-1.

Head coach Hilary Witt said Saturday’s game was about as bad as her team could play.

At the beginning of the second period with the Saints up 4-0, Ericka Hockinson ’04 scored her team’s only point with an assist from Erin Duggan ’05.

The Bulldogs hoped to bounce back in Sunday’s rematch.

“They weren’t going to get embarrassed like that ever again,” Witt said.

On Sunday afternoon, a different team was on the ice — a more focused and determined team.

Just 31 seconds into the second period, Deanna McDevitt ’03 scored the first goal of the game with assists from Natalie Babony ’06 and Deena Caplette ’06.

But about 12 minutes later, St. Lawrence started to step up its game; Gina Kingsbury scored the first point for the Saints.

The game remained close, 1-1, until about 14 minutes into the third period when Amanda Sargeant scored again for the Saints. With only six minutes remaining in the game, hopes for a Bulldog upset quickly faded.

Still, Yale was down just a goal.

“It was a general improvement on every aspect of our game since [Saturday],” captain Kaitlin Poraco ’03 said.

Yale played well up until the end but missed many important shots. When all was said and done, Yale narrowly lost to St. Lawrence, 2-1.

“We played well today. I was really happy with our team,” Witt said. “But none of us are satisfied with the loss, and we should’ve and could’ve won that game if we put the puck in the net when we had our chances. We definitely had more quality opportunities to score. The difference in the game was that St. Lawrence took advantage of it.”

Yale has a young team and is still developing its program. The freshmen played exceptionally well in Sunday’s game, Witt said.

Goalie Sarah Love ’06 had a phenomenal hockey game, making a number of important saves, Witt said.

“We were beating them to the puck in the offensive zone,” McDevitt said. “And the freshmen played really well.”

The team was generally pleased with the way it played Sunday.

“Although we didn’t win, we definitely dominated,” Lisa Jacque ’06 said. “They were scared.”

Witt said their troubles over the weekend arose because players were trying to make perfect shots instead of simply trying to put the puck in the net.

“We want to look at Saturday’s game as an experience to learn from,” Poraco said. “When we don’t do the little things right, bad things can happen.”

Sunday’s result shows the Bulldogs are gaining momentum.

“If we can compete with a team that’s ranked fifth in the country, then we can compete with anyone,” McDevitt said.

Next week, the Bulldogs take on Union College and Boston College.

“We expect to win next weekend,” Witt said. “We won’t be satisfied unless we beat both of those teams.”