The women’s ice hockey team has been searching for a decisive win against a ranked opponent all season.

The Bulldogs came close when it tied then nationally ranked No. 9 Providence College 1-1 on Jan. 19.

Yale (5-12-2, 1-5-0 ECAC, 1-2-0 Ivy) has another chance Saturday when it faces nationally ranked No. 4 Dartmouth (14-5-0, 6-2-0, 2-1-0) in Hanover, N.H. And if the Bulldogs’ last four games are any indication of their growth, this weekend is their best chance yet.

Yale has won two of its last four games — a stretch where the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 18-8, including a 12-goal assault on Sacred Heart University. The Elis executed well on both ends of the ice and will have to do the same against the Big Green, who come off two strong wins over the University of Connecticut.

Saturday’s game against Dartmouth is ripe for an upset. The Bulldogs have a knack for keeping the best teams honest. Nationally ranked No. 5 St. Lawrence University had to overcome an early deficit to edge Yale 2-1 on Nov. 17. Just three weeks later, nationally ranked No. 10 Mercyhurst squeaked by Yale 2-1.

But the Elis’ most convincing performance against a top-tiered team came against Providence. Led by goaltender Sarah Love ’06, Yale found itself still in a game it had no business being in, fighting the Friars to a 1-1 tie.

“We were intense all three periods, all 60 minutes,” Erika Hockinson ’04 said. “That was the first time we’ve done that all season. Everything was working for us. We just clicked.”

Yale’s proven ability to come up big in big games augers well for its Saturday performance.

But the Bulldogs will have to get their act together after a poor offensive outing against Canada’s nationally ranked No. 2 McGill University last weekend. Yale could not convert on any of seven power plays and despite outshooting McGill 36-16, lost, 3-1.

The Elis take on the University of Vermont (3-15-1, 0-5-1) Sunday. Vermont was picked to finish last in ECAC standings in preseason polls. Yale handily defeated the Catamounts 3-0 and 6-1 last season and expects nothing less this weekend. Vermont has yet to earn a win in conference play.

This weekend’s series marks the start a five-game road trip for Yale. It will be only the third time the Bulldogs have been away from Ingalls Rink this season.

They are 1-1 on the road, with a 3-2 overtime loss at Boston College and a 6-0 romp at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.