Despite playing some of its best hockey of the season, the Yale field hockey team came up short twice this weekend on its Boston road trip.

Saturday, on the strength of 2003 third-team All-American Shelley Maasdorp’s hat trick, No. 17 Harvard (8-4, 4-0 Ivy) came back from one-goal deficits twice to top the Bulldogs (5-7, 1-3 Ivy), 3-2. Sunday, Boston University (9-5) managed to squeak by a stingy Yale defense twice to take the game, 2-0.

The Elis struck quickly in Saturday’s contest. Under intense pressure from the Bulldogs in the Harvard defensive circle, a loose ball came to forward Meredith Howell ’05, who drove the ball into the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead.

The tally — scored only 3:26 into the game — marked the shortest time the Elis have taken to find the net in 2004, and only the second time that the Bulldogs have scored in the first 10 minutes all season.

“One of our challenges this season has been 70 minutes of hockey,” captain Chrissy Hall ’05 said. “We’ve been working on it, and it came together this weekend. When the whistle blew, we weren’t flat. We came out ready to play.”

With 6:20 left on the clock, Maasdorp responded, scoring the other goal of the half. On a penalty corner, she managed to flip the ball over a defender’s stick to get some space, then fired a rocket inside the left post to knot the score.

The Bulldogs owned a 10-7 edge in shooting in the first half, and despite drawing only one penalty corner, believed that a victory was within reach.

“I feel like we were really confident going into the second half and we had faith in our ability to score,” defender Emily Palilonis ’07 said. “We knew we were still in it, that we had a chance to win.”

Yale would regain the lead midway through the second half. With 19:06 left in the game, midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 deflected a free hit from midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08 over Harvard netminder Aliaa Remtilla.

Less than three minutes later, Maasdorp struck again. Fed by teammates Kate Gannon and Jen McDavit on a penalty corner, the All-American rifled a shot inside the left post to even the score at two.

The contest remained tied until the last four minutes of the game, but Maasdorp wasn’t finished yet. With 3:35 left in the contest, on a nearly identical play to the one she scored on earlier in the half, Maasdorp took a ball off a corner from Gannon and McDavitt and scorched a straight shot through the Yale defense past Eli goaltender Elizabeth Friedlander ’07.

The hat trick brings Maasdorp’s point total to 27 and her goal total to 12 — both tops on the Crimson squad.

The Bulldogs felt that they played well, losing in the end to a strong Harvard offensive penalty corner unit.

“We thought we had a really great opportunity,” midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08 said. “We were in a good position to win, but they executed their corners really well in the second half. We were disappointed because we thought we outplayed them.”

Against BU Sunday, the Terriers held a 20-10 advantage in shots and took 13 penalty corners to Yale’s four, but the game was still kept close on strong play from the Eli defense.

A two-minute lapse in the Bulldog defense proved to be the Elis’ undoing. With 8:44 remaining in the first half, Jen Joyce notched a penalty corner goal off assists from Lauren Vendetti and Colleen McClay. The trio came together again for a score 1:41 later, with Vendetti scoring on a corner, assisted by Joyce and McClay.

BU goaltender Erin Prediger posted the shutout, her fourth of the season and the sixth of her career. After being out for several games due to illness, Eli netminder Kate Crandall ’06 returned Sunday and made an impressive nine saves.

The Bulldogs felt that the biggest problem Sunday was failing to translate strong defense into offensive opportunities.

“We played great defense today, no question, but we had some problems transitioning it out to create attacks,” Hall said. “If the ball’s in the defensive circle the whole time, you can’t get anything going.”

One major problem that the Elis plan to address in practice this week is the issue of number of penalty corners allowed. The Bulldogs allowed 24 corners this weekend, and all five goals scored against Yale were off penalty corners.

“Our corner unit is great,” forward Meredith Howell ’05 said. “We just have to do a better job of not allowing corners to happen. All 11 of us out on the field have to play harder defense from our own 35 and not wait until the defensive circle to play defense.”

The Elis return to Johnson Field Saturday to begin a four-game homestand with a matchup with Penn.

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