Despite outshooting Ivy League rival Dartmouth 30-27, the nationally ranked No. 15 women’s lacrosse team could not find the net often enough, dropping a crucial conference game 13-9 at Hanover, N.H., Saturday.

First team All-Ivy midfielder Miles Whitman ’04 carried the load offensively, figuring in two-thirds of Yale’s goals with four tallies and an assist. But despite first half success, the Elis had trouble with the No. 11 Big Green (4-2, 2-0) in the second, especially goalie Devon Wills. Wills, last year’s Ancient Eight Rookie of the Year, made 13 saves, paving the way to victory.

The Elis (4-3, 1-1) started the game off strong, with Whitman giving Yale an early lead at 26:30 of the first half. Attacker Katie Brownson ’05 gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead at 23:12 on her first goal of the season.

“I thought we played a great first half,” Yale head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We were settled, [and] we maintained possession of the ball.”

But that was the last time the Elis held the lead.

Three consecutive Big Green goals during a 10-minute span gave them a 4-2 lead. But the Bulldogs fought back, with midfielder Sophie Melniker ’04 tying the game at five with under two minutes to play in the half.

However, the Big Green took all the momentum into halftime, as midfielder Lana Smith reclaimed the lead for Dartmouth with just seven seconds left.

“Our team’s mentality going into the Yale game was that the game was a must-win for us,” Wills said. “We have struggled in some games so far this season, so we saw it as an opportunity to come together. We could really feel everyone’s emotion in the game.”

Dartmouth used that energy to set the tone for rest of the game at the second half’s start, extending its lead to four goals in the frame’s first 3:30.

“There was a huge shift of momentum, and it was just a really big hole for us to dig ourselves out of,” O’Leary said.

All three Dartmouth goals came in transition.

“At half time [Dartmouth head coach Amy Patton] really urged us to use our fast break as a way to put the defense on their heels and get a few quick goals,” Wills said. “It was a great decision, and the attack couldn’t have executed it better.”

Offensively, Yale responded with second-half goals from midfielder Katie Sargent ’05, defender Jess Champion ’07, Whitman and Melniker.

But the Big Green had an answer every time, with Dartmouth midfielder Casey Hazel leading the charge. Two of her three goals came in the final 30 minutes.

“In the second half of that game we just lost that spark, that energy wasn’t there,” Yale goalie Lonnie Sarnell ’06 said.

Champion’s goal at 17:05 brought Yale within four of the Big Green with the score at 11-7, but that was as close as the Dartmouth defense allowed it to get.

Wills, who made six saves in the second half, and her frontline fended off any comeback attempts.

“[Wills] has to be probably one of the best goalkeepers out there,” O’Leary said.

Wills was quick to praise her teammates for their collective defensive effort.

“The defense should take complete credit for allowing me to make the saves,” she said. “They pushed the Yale attackers out to an angle where I could make an easy save. The defense really worked as a unit in the game, and I owe all credit to them.”

Whereas the Bulldogs maintained possession and showed patience on offense in the first half, they did not execute as effectively in the second half.

“We played right into their game,” O’Leary said. “We were taking quick shots that weren’t very good shots.”

Yale got a boost from its own goalie, with Sarnell making 10 saves in the game, including several crucial stops in the first half that kept the game close.

“Based on the team that it was and the saves that I made, that was the best I’ve played thus far,” Sarnell said.

The Elis return home Wednesday to face Fairfield University, though O’Leary pointed out that there are no major crises that need to be resolved.

“I’m not sure there is anything that needs to be fixed, [but] things [need] to be improved,” she said. “We’re just going to continue to do the things we’ve been doing in practice day in and day out.”

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”17918″ ]