The women’s lacrosse team held off a late-game rally by the Crimson and got back over .500 in the conference with an 8-6 win over Harvard Saturday.

The Bulldogs (6-3, 2-1 Ivy) led 8-3 with two minutes left in the game, but the Cantabs (4-4, 0-2) made things interesting with three goals in the last 1:51. Defender Jen Kessel ’04 led the Eli defense with a game-high three ground balls and kept Harvard standout midfielder Casey Owens off the score-sheet for almost the full 60 minutes. Offensively, midfielders Sarah Driscoll ’05, Sophie Melniker ’04 and Miles Whitman ’04 took care of business, netting two goals each.

The Crimson came out on the attack from the start, with Owens scoring the game’s first two goals — her second coming at 22:36.

“None of us were really worried,” Driscoll said. “Ball control is really important for us. When they scored those first goals, we made the adjustments we needed to.”

Those adjustments worked because Owens did not see many decent opportunities for the rest of the game. Kessel held her scoreless in the final 38 minutes.

“The defense made my job easy,” said Yale goalie Lonnie Sarnell ’06, who made five saves in the game. “They just held them out.”

With the Harvard offense quieted, the Bulldog attack went on the prowl, scoring the game’s next six goals. Midfielder Katie Sargent ’05 got things started, collecting a Melniker pass and beating Cantab goalie Kathryn Tylander at 20:39.

The Elis were able to move the ball around effectively, which set up Sargent’s scoring opportunity, Sargent said.

Driscoll, Whitman, Sarah Scalia ’06 and Whitman’s second gave Yale a 5-2 lead heading into halftime.

Melniker extended that lead to four less than two minutes into the second frame. Following a Harvard goal, Melniker and Driscoll’s second tallies of the game extended the lead to five.

“At halftime [we] got more focused and were able to block out some outside distraction,” Driscoll said. “We just went out there with a greater sense of confidence in our defense. We were going to be more aggressive and it worked.”

Harvard’s Allison Kaveney finally broke through the Yale defense, narrowing the gap at 1:51. Off of a Caroline Hines feed, Kaveney found an opening and beat Sarnell.

Catherine Sproul netted an unassisted goal 20 seconds later. Kaveney scored again with seven seconds left, but it was too little too late for the Cantabs, who are still winless in the Ancient Eight.

The Yale defense was solid throughout the game, with Kessel, Kerry Docherty ’05 and Meredith Mack ’05 each causing two turnovers.

“The defense really [carried the team],” Sargent said. “The offense wasn’t as good [as we’d like] but we got the job done.”

The Bulldogs also got a reminder of last season’s success over the weekend. Members of the Class of 2003 returned to campus to collect, along with this year’s returning players, their 2003 Ivy League Championship rings.

Driscoll said the return of last year’s seniors and the presentation of the rings was a nice reminder of last season. The Elis are expecting similar results this year, she added.

This time around, the Elis are in a situation very similar to the 2003 campaign, having already dropped an Ivy game to Dartmouth (5-2, 3-0).

The Bulldogs host Rutgers (4-5) Wednesday and then head to No. 1 Princeton (9-0, 2-0) to face the defending national champions.

In order to earn a share of the Ivy crown, Yale will likely need to take down the Tigers, a feat they accomplished last year in a 7-6 thriller at Johnson Field.

But first things first, Yale cannot ignore Rutgers.

“We have no reason to overlook Rutgers, because they came close to ending our tournament hopes last year,” Driscoll said.

The Scarlet Knights upset the Bulldogs 15-12 last year on April 9, so the Bulldogs will be looking for some payback.

“We’re in revenge mode,” Sarnell said.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”17846″ ]