The women’s hockey team has a chance to prove the preseason polls wrong this weekend.

Yale (8-17-2, 4-10-0 ECAC, 2-7-0 Ivy), picked to finish eighth in the ECAC, concludes the regular season this weekend at home against Vermont (3-23-2, 0-13-1) and nationally ranked No. 4 Dartmouth (21-6-0, 11-3-0, 6-2-0). With a win, the Elis can clinch sixth place in the conference standings, barring a Colgate upset of Brown. The Raiders are currently sixth and lead the Elis by a point.

“We control our own destiny now,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “A sixth place finish would be a great step in the right direction for us.”

Tonight, Yale hosts Vermont. The Bulldogs shut out the Catamounts 3-0 Feb. 1, and Yale looks to dominate again. But the circumstances are very different this time. For most of the season, the Elis have been playing with nothing to lose. But with a loss tonight, they would finish in seventh place, setting up a first round ECAC tournament match-up against the regular season runner-up. The tournament gets underway March 7.

“We have to play our ‘A’ game,” Witt said. “Vermont has a good goalie, and we have to put some pucks in the net.”

The Elis have struggled mightily of late on the offensive end. Last weekend, they only managed to find the net thrice. Yale needs better productivity from its front line if it wants to secure sixth place.

“We really have to step it up and play well — bottom line,” Sarah Love ’06 said. “We have to beat Vermont.”

Yale returns to the ice Saturday for the regular season finale against Dartmouth. The Big Green routed the Bulldogs 8-0 Jan. 31 in Hanover, N.H., but Witt thinks Yale will fare better tomorrow.

“We always do better the second time we face a team,” she said. “We know what to expect.”

It has been a recurring phenomenon over the season’s course: Yale gets steamrolled in the first meeting and then scares in the rematch. St. Lawrence routed the Yale 8-0 Nov. 16 but then only squeezed by the Bulldogs 2-1 the next day.

More recently, Yale has done more than scare in the rematch. Against Colgate and Princeton, the Bulldogs avenged earlier losses with a pair of wins. The Elis look to do the same against Dartmouth this weekend.