For the second time this year, Cara Kiernan ’07 led the women’s cross country team to a second place finish — this time, at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet at Princeton’s 5K Battlefield Course Saturday.

Kiernan, who finished third overall with a time of 17:25, also propelled the Bulldogs to second place when she finished third overall at the Fordham Invitational Sept. 11 in New York City’s Van Cortlandt Park.

“As always, [Kiernan] did a great job of leading the team [Saturday],” Vanessa Everding ’05 said. “It’s always harder to run out in front without your teammates with you all the time, and it’s really great that she did it.”

Princeton finished first at the H/Y/P meet with 23 points, garnering eight of the top 10 times. Yale finished with 54 points, three points ahead of third-place Harvard. The first five finishers at the meet for each team earned points based on the order in which they finished. The team with the least amount of points won the meet.

Kiernan said she tried to keep her focus throughout the race and not fall behind early.

“I was working hard from the beginning and I was trying to go out and stay with the top group of girls,” she said. “Basically I tried my best and tried not to let up.”

Other top finishers for the Bulldogs included Ashley Campbell ’07 (ninth), Katie McKinstry ’07 (11th), Susan Chan ’05 (19th), Everding (20th), Claire Hamilton ’07 (22nd) and Betsy Boucher ’08 (23rd).

The Elis were without two key runners because of injury — captain Anne Martin ’05 and rising star Lindsay Donaldson ’08. Nonetheless, a team effort enabled the Bulldogs to keep ahead of Harvard. Yale had eight runners finish before the Crimson’s fifth runner.

“Even though only the first five runners score points, our key runners were really everyone,” Chan said. “That is why cross-country is such a team sport.”

But Yale’s unity could not compare to Princeton’s. Unlike the Bulldogs, the Tigers were able to stay close from start to end.

“Princeton was very together,” Everding said. “They went by me in the race and it was just this big group of girls and that does a lot to someone’s mental confidence in the race. If we were able to stay together a bit more we would have done better.”

Despite falling to Princeton, the Elis were pleased with their performance.

“We learned a lot about what we need to do strategy-wise, and I think it was a confidence booster for some who have been struggling for a couple weeks,” Everding said. “It was a good chance for everybody to run together.”

Princeton’s win this year gives the Tigers nine all-time wins at the H/Y/P meet, tying Harvard. Yale still holds a slight lead with 10 meet wins.

Princeton, along with Columbia, is expected to be a top competitor when the Bulldogs head into Heptagonals at the end of the month. Up next for Yale, however, is the New England Championships at Franklin Park in Boston Friday. The Bulldogs then travel to Terre Haute, Ind. for NCAA Pre-Nationals the following weekend.

“[Pre-Nationals] will be a strong field, but it’s always a good experience for our team to get out against really talented runners,” Kiernan said.”