Even against nationally-ranked competition, seven is a big number to lose by.

Wednesday night, the field hockey team (2-5, 0-2 Ivy) fell 8-1 to the No. 6 University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. The Huskies are the highest ranked opponent that the Elis have faced thus far, and the seven goal deficit is the largest margin of defeat by which Yale has lost in just over two years.

“We knew we were playing an opponent who was number six in the country, but we’re always disappointed with a loss, especially a big loss,” forward Katie Rivkin ’06 said. “We’re trying to take it one day at a time now, put this in the past and move on.”

The contest was never close. Within 10 minutes of the opening whistle the Elis were already down 4-0.

However, the Bulldogs were able to avoid being UConn’s eighth shutout win of the 2004 season. About halfway through the first half, forward Buffy Topp ’05 scored an unassisted goal to bring the score to 5-1 in favor of the Huskies.

UConn would not score again in the first half, but added three second-half tallies to make the final score 8-1.

In the process of adding two goals to her team’s winning effort, Huskie senior forward Lauren Henderson became the leading scorer in UConn history.

For the Elis, one bright note for the future was goalkeeper Elizabeth Friedlander ’07, who made four saves in her first collegiate start.

Despite the fact that UConn is the No. 6 team in the country, the Bulldogs were still unhappy with the loss.

“It was a loss and we’re disappointed,” Topp said. “It doesn’t matter who we play — we want to come out and play to get a win. We can be playing a number one ranked team or a second tier team; it doesn’t matter. We’re looking for a win every time.”

The Bulldogs do have some reason to not be overly disappointed with Wednesday’s loss.

The Elis are the 10th team that the undefeated Huskies have beaten this year, and in losing to UConn the Bulldogs join several nationally ranked teams, including No. 18 Harvard and No. 13 American University. The Huskies are currently on a 17-game regular-season winning streak dating back to October 8, 2003.

Also, Yale is one of only four teams this season that have been able to score a goal against UConn. The Huskies have outscored their opponents 50-4 this season.

So perhaps that one goal was enough to energize the Elis for this Saturday’s matchup against a lesser foe — the University of Rhode Island.

The Rams (3-6) have been outscored 8-17, outshot 68-171 and have drawn less than half as many penalty corners as their opponents have, 35-86.

But the Elis have no reason to be complacent.

Yale is without two starters this weekend — forward Trish Bissett ’07, who suffered a concussion against Holy Cross Sept. 5, and midfielder Lindsay Collins ’07, who broke her left index finger at the knuckle in last weekend’s game against Cornell.

The Bulldogs recognize that Bissett and Collins are losses, but think that the team is deep enough to win despite the missing starters.

“It’s hard playing without starters,” Friedlander said. “There are adjustments you have to make. But we’re positive about the game, and we have some great people who don’t usually start.”

Also, the Rams, while a weak team on paper, have won their last two games. Both the recent Rhode Island win streak and the fact that this Saturday’s matchup is the Rams’ home opener will undoubtedly be big mental boosts.

Lastly, the Bulldogs have learned several times already this season that a weak team is not a given win. Last Saturday, the Elis outplayed a weaker Cornell squad, but the Big Red still came out of the match with a 2-1 victory.

“We don’t take anyone for granted.” Topp said. “It doesn’t matter who we play; we’re not underestimating anyone. That’s why we play, because anything could happen on any given day. That’s what’s great about the game. This team needs a win badly and we’re going to give them everything we have.”