The season may not have shaped up as the field hockey team hoped, but the Bulldogs are not ready to be done just yet.

Thanks to strong defense, good passing and a hat trick from forward Buffy Topp ’05, the field hockey team (6-8, 1-4 Ivy) defeated Vermont (2-15) 4-0 Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak. The win eclipsed Saturday’s tough 2-0 loss to Penn (11-4, 4-1), the Bulldogs’ fourth Ivy League loss of the season.

By winning yesterday, the Elis stay in contention to qualify for the ECAC tournament, although they must win their next three games to do so.

Sunday marked one of the strongest outings of the Bulldogs’ season. The Elis moved the ball upfield well and had good penetration into the Vermont circle throughout the game.

The Bulldogs took advantage of their strong play early. Just over six minutes into the game, midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08 dribbled down the length of the right sideline and passed the ball off just to the left of Vermont goaltender Ariel Eber. Forward Catherine Lindroth ’08 knocked the pass into the net for her first-ever collegiate goal.

The Elis struck again only two minutes later, when defender Heather Orrico ’07 fed the ball to Lindroth in front of the goal. Eber deflected Lindroth’s shot to the right of the goalmouth, but Buffy Topp ’05 was there to put in the rebound.

At the beginning of the second half, Vermont dominated play. The Catamounts kept the ball in Bulldog territory for the first eight minutes, earning four penalty corners in the process.

Head coach Ainslee Lamb called a timeout with 26:55 left in the half to try to focus her team.

“They were outworking us,” Lamb said. “One of the things our program really focuses on is work ethic. It’s unacceptable to be outworked, especially on your home field.”

Soon after, at 22:12, Thayer received the ball along the Vermont end line, got past a defender and found Topp five yards in front of the goal for the score.

Less than three minutes later, midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 stopped a ball from going over the end line and hit the ball through traffic to a waiting Topp, who deflected the ball into the net for her third tally of the game.

In the ending minutes, Vermont stayed in the Elis’ end consistently and drew multiple scoring opportunities. But a combination of goaltender Kate Crandall ’06 and Yale substitutes preserved the shutout.

Crandall finished the game with nine saves to secure her first collegiate shutout.

Several Elis said that their greatest accomplishment Sunday was their ability to move the ball.

“I think we passed really well today,” captain Chrissy Hall ’05 said. “Instead of dribbling, we kept the ball moving, and we kept hustling, and it worked well.”

Saturday’s game against Penn saw a mix of bad luck and missed opportunities spell disaster for the Bulldogs. The Elis were undone by an inability to get past the tough Quaker defense and get anything going in the Penn circle.

“You can’t just jam it through,” midfielder Grace Morris ’06 said. “We just weren’t looking for each other.”

For its part, the Yale defense was impressive. Forwards Liz Lorelli and Cara Calahan, Penn’s leading scorers this season, were held to one shot each.

Neither of the Quakers’ two goals were pretty. The first came with 5:55 left in the first half when defender Bernice Raveche got the ball to Lorelli, who sneaked the ball past Crandall’s outstretched foot into the net.

The goal was somewhat contested. Raveche recovered the ball near the Yale end line when an errant Quaker pass that was headed out-of-bounds hit a referee’s foot and stayed in-bounds.

The other goal came only 2:56 into the second half. A scramble broke out in front of the Yale net and Penn defender Jessica Kaylor knocked the ball in for the score.

Penn head coach Val Cloud said that the difference in the game was her team’s ability to come through on offense.

“I thought [Yale] played well — it could have gone either way,” she said. “We just capitalized on a couple of opportunities and scored.”

Players and coaches from both teams commented that the refereeing was poor, but Lamb was quick to say that the referees played no role in the final result.

“It wasn’t the best officiating we’ve had, but both teams had the officiating,” she said. “To complain about the officiating is a cop-out.”

The Elis’ three remaining regular season matches are against Columbia, No. 12 Boston College and Brown. While winning all three games and qualifying for the ECAC tournament will be difficult, the Bulldogs are up to the challenge.

“[Sunday] gives us momentum for next weekend,” Topp said. “In the next three games, if we play like we can, we’ll be successful. And we think we can be successful.”