If Wednesday’s game against Quinnipiac University was any indication of the women’s hockey team’s growth, then Sunday’s game against nationally ranked No. 9 Providence (10-5-5) should be more competitive than expected.

Yale (4-12-1, 1-5-0 ECAC, 1-0-0 Ivy) comes off what was arguably its best game of the season: a come-from-behind victory over the Bobcats (3-16-0).

The Elis forfeited an early lead but rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the third period for a 4-3 win.

“We used our speed and created many chances, which we always haven’t been able to do,” assistant coach Paul Nemetz-Carlson said.

Deena Caplette ’06, who is brilliant at beating defenders, scored the game-winner in the 16th minute of the period. Caplette and fellow freshman Natalie Babony ’06 are third and second in scoring for the Bulldogs, respectively.

“We’re relying on freshmen and sophomores to score, so we have to be patient,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “They have the talent, but not the experience.”

The Elis showed an intensity that has been suspect for most of the season. They were resilient and played with poise and patience — signs of a seasoned team.

“We have definitely grown,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “We got the goal when we needed it. We were able to come through in a tight game.”

Yale has not fared well in close games this season. Half of its losses have been by two goals or less, including a 3-2 defeat in overtime to Boston College on Jan. 3.

“We need a consistent effort from everyone every game,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “We got that for the most part, and we’ll need it again against Providence.”

Providence is a perennial powerhouse and has spent several weeks ranked in the national top 10 this season. But Yale has played well against other top-tier teams this season, although still searches for a win against a ranked opponent. No. 6 St. Lawrence (12-5-2) edged the Elis, 2-1, on Nov. 17; No. 10 Mercyhurst (17-5-1) squeaked by Yale as well, 2-1.

The Elis will have to sustain a high energy level to compensate for their smaller size, but according to Nemetz-Carlson, that should not be a problem.

“Providence is a big team,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “We’re not incredibly strong, but we can play physical. We’ve come up big against top teams before.”

Sunday’s game stands as a proving ground for the Elis, who have an opportunity to show that Wednesday’s win over Quinnipiac was not a fluke.

“The biggest thing about this program, at this stage, is that every game is a big game,” Nemetz-Carlson said.

Indeed, but this weekend’s game against the Friars has the potential to be the biggest.