The women’s golf team came up 21 strokes short at the Princeton Invitation, placing behind the defending Ivy League champion Tigers. The Elis took second in the 15-team field, playing a two-day tournament on the par-72 at Springdale Golf Club in Princeton, N.J.

The Bulldogs — led by January Romero ’06 — posted team scores of 320 and 322 on the 6,003-yard course. Romero fired off two rounds of 76 to finish eight over par and second in the individual standings — behind Princeton’s Avery Kiser. Ellie Brophy ’08, Cindy Shin ’07 and team captain Lauren Ressler ’06 contributed the remaining three scores to the team total.

“We did not play to our potential, and we know it,” Yale head coach Mary Moan said.

Freshman Lauren Pappas ’08 was the only other Eli in the top 10 at the end of the tournament Sunday. Competing in only her second collegiate tournament, Pappas negotiated the narrow fairways and small greens, and her two sub-80 rounds placed her in a three-way tie for seventh.

“I am used to playing on that type of course — it suits my game,” Pappas said. “I am starting to play how I am used to playing, and I am getting back on track.”

Unfortunately for the Elis, Pappas competed in the tournament as an individual, and her scores could not be factored into the team score. Even if Pappas’ 157 two-day total could have been calculated into the team score, the Tigers would have triumphed by 11 strokes.

Although the Elis managed to finish ahead of Penn, Brown, Harvard and Dartmouth, their coach and captain voiced displeasure with being behind the Tigers.

“The saying is ‘Princeton doesn’t matter,'” Moan said. “But in our case it does.”

Between them, Yale and Princeton have claimed every women’s Ivy League title since 1997, and this year is very much a two-horse race.

“We cannot settle for getting second and beating the other Ivies,” Ressler said. “The team has been working way too hard to shoot what we shot.”

The Elis failed to get off to a quick start, with only two golfers breaking 80 the first day, and the combination of a long course and strong competition kept them from overcoming an early deficit. The wet links did not afford much roll after drives and the rough was thicker than at last season’s tournament.

The Tigers pulled away after an opening day with 315, only five strokes in front of the Elis. As the Tigers amassed three sub-80 scores on the second day en route to a tournament-best team score of 306, the Elis could not find their stroke and had to settle for a 322. This second-round performance diminished the Bulldogs’ lead over third-place Georgetown to seven strokes, less than one third the pace set Saturday.

In preparation for this weekend’s Penn State Invitational, the Elis must refocus and establish a comfort level with their game that Ressler said her squad has yet to reach. Moan echoed this sentiment.

“It is all a matter of trusting and believing in yourself,” the head coach said. “You have to play confident and a bit cocky. You have to have an attitude that you belong here.”

Moan and Ressler both said this weekend’s results are no reason for immediate concern and that the squad’s best play is good enough to bring home a league title.