In its first competition of the fall, the women’s cross-country team earned second place overall at the Fordham Invitational in New York’s Van Cortlandt Park Saturday.

Cara Kiernan ’07 led the Bulldogs with a third-place finish in a time of 18:22.67, while Lindsay Donaldson ’08, in her collegiate debut, followed one spot behind in fourth. Providence, which won the 15-team meet, posted the top two individual times. Columbia finished third.

Other top finishers for Yale included Ashley Campbell ’07 (11th), Vanessa Everding ’05 (14th), Katie McKinstry ’07 (19th), Betsy Boucher ’08 (25th), Claire Hamilton ’07 (28th) and Lauren Davis ’06 (29th).

“It was a really solid performance,” Everding said. “We came out with the goal of running a good hard race and we did that. We were able to see what we had. It was a nice start to our season.”

Captain Anne Martin ’05 was likewise pleased with the team’s performance, but cautioned against overexcitement. Many of the teams, including Yale, did not race some of their fastest runners. Columbia, which is expected to vie for the Ivy League title, sent its junior varsity team.

“Because it’s such an early-season race, it’s not an indication of how the season is going to shape up,” Martin said. She did not run this weekend due to an injury, but hopes to return to competition within the next couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, the Invitational gave Yale a chance to assess the team’s potential and see some of the newcomers in action.

Kiernan, one of Yale’s top long-distance runners last year, showed she did not lose a step over the summer. As a freshman, Kiernan finished fifth at Heptagonals — cross country’s equivalent of an Ivy League championship — and qualified for the NCAAs in both cross country and the 5000-meter run.

“Cara did amazingly well, which is not surprising,” Martin said. “She always runs well, and I think it’s an indication of what she’s going to do for the rest of the season.”

Meanwhile, Donaldson showed that she will be a major contributor for the Bulldogs this year.

“We were all really excited with Lindsay’s performance,” Martin said. “We were all expecting to give her a chance to settle in and get used to collegiate running, but she seems to be a pro already.”

Donaldson, who has only been running cross-country for the past two years, admitted to some nervousness, but said the relaxed atmosphere of the race helped calm her.

“It was a nice race to start with,” Donaldson said. “I was a little nervous, but everyone on the team has been so helpful and supportive. Running in college is a lot of different from high school. It’s a lot more intense and requires a lot more dedication, but I’m loving it.”

Boucher’s 25th place finish in her first collegiate race also bodes well for the Yale squad, as it attempts to win the Ivy League title and earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs return to action on Sept. 24, at the Quinnipiac Invitational in Hamden.