With only three games remaining in regular season play, every game counts in the field hockey team’s quest for a postseason.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they will take on Columbia — the Ivy League’s weakest team this season — tonight at 7 p.m. in New York. Defeating the Lions (1-14, 0-5 Ivy) would not only keep the Bulldogs in contention for a third-place finish in the Ivies, but it would put them one step closer to their goal of winning out for the rest of the season after a 3-0 loss to Harvard Oct. 18.

The Elis have won their last two games against Penn and Holy Cross, but the Elis are careful not to underestimate the Lions despite Columbia’s losing record.

“I know we cannot take this team lightly,” midfielder Heather Orrico ’07 said. “They will be fired up and ready to go, so we have to be prepared for anything they throw at us.”

To succeed, however, the Bulldogs will have to deal with Columbia’s freshman goalkeeper Kristina George, who has kept the Lions close in their last few matches.

The Eli offensive focus in the upcoming game will be on receiving penalty corners. In the first half of the their match against Penn Sunday, the Bulldogs only had one penalty corner and did not score. During the second half, they had eight penalty corners and scored twice.

“[The penalty corners] opened up our scoring opportunities,” Orrico said.

At the same time, Yale’s defense will try to prevent penalty corners allowed, which it did well against Penn, limiting the Quakers to four in the entire game.

“We always want to limit the number of scoring chances for our opponents,” sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 said.

The Elis won 2-0 against Columbia last year, mostly due to the efforts of midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05. Driscoll is expected to play a key role against the Lions again this year. However, Yale will be without freshman standout Trish Bissett ’07, who is nursing a concussion.

The Bulldogs need to win the upcoming game for a chance to qualify for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“We must win this game to even be considered for ECAC’s,” said Hudson.

If the Bulldogs win tonight and their next two games against Fairfield and Brown, they will also secure a third place in the Ivy League.

Even with so much pressure, the Elis are confident about their chances.

“If we remain composed, use our skill, two-touch passing and everything that we have been working on, we will definitely continue to make progress towards our goal,” Orrico said.