For the third time this season, the women’s lacrosse kept its own against a nationally ranked squad only to fall frustratingly short.

The Elis (2-4, 0-2 Ivy) dropped a 9-8 decision to No. 7 Dartmouth (6-0, 2-0) Saturday afternoon at Johnson Field. Of the Bulldogs’ four losses this season, three of them have been by just one goal, and Yale has yet to come out this season on the winning end of a game decided by a single goal. Despite a strong defensive effort led by goaltender Lonnie Sarnell ’06, the Elis could not hold off a talented Big Green attack.

Even though it was a tough loss, the Bulldogs are not hanging their heads after having played such a close game with national powerhouse Dartmouth.

“It’s tough to know the potential for the win was at our very fingertips,” Eli captain Kerry Docherty ’05 said. “But I don’t think any of us are ashamed at how we played — Dartmouth is a great team, and I thought we played really well minus a couple lapses here and there.”

Sarnell, who had seven saves in the matchup, was a crucial factor in holding the Big Green to just nine goals — the only game this season in which Dartmouth scored fewer than 10 goals.

“I thought Lonnie did a really nice job in the goal,” midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said. “She came up with some big saves and was smart with her clears. She has been very consistent and continued to show it in this game.”

The Elis also showed a strong offensive attack against Dartmouth. The only team to have scored more goals against the Big Green was James Madison, which tallied 12 goals in Dartmouth’s 14-12 victory. The Elis proved themselves able to challenge all-Ivy goaltender Devon Wills. Midfielders Alessandra Croffy ’05, Katie Sargent ’05 and Lauren Taylor ’08 each contributed two goals in the loss.

“The goalie was solid, but during our scoring run in the first half she was flustered, and we were able to capitalize,” Levin said. “She even changed her stick midway through the game as if that was the problem.”

The Elis opened the afternoon’s scoring less than two minutes into the game. Midfielder Lara Melniker ’07 found Sargent in front of Wills, and Sargent sneaked the ball past the netminder to put Yale on the scoreboard. Dartmouth answered back, however, as Sarah Szefi scored her first of the game to tie up the match.

Taylor was the next to find the back of the net, as she fired an unassisted shot past Wills. Sargent netted her second goal, this time off an assist from midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05, just a minute later to widen the Elis’ lead to two, their largest of the game.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Dartmouth’s Kristen Barry started off the Big Green’s five-goal unanswered scoring run. Barry had two in the 15-minute period, which stretched into the beginning of the second half. Casey Hazel and Szefi each added one, and Whitney Douthett tallied her second of four total goals during the Dartmouth run to help put the Big Green ahead 7-4.

After the Big Green notched its seventh goal of the game, Yale head coach Mandee O’Leary called a key time-out to help the Bulldogs regain their focus.

“I thought that coach called a good time-out after the first two goals of the second half,” Taylor said. “Mandee pulled us in and said, ‘Let’s get our act together.'”

O’Leary’s encouragement appeared to be effective, and the Eli seniors took the game into their hands. Croffy responded to the time-out with a free position goal with 25 minutes left in the second half, and Driscoll found the net 10 minutes later to pull the Elis within one.

“I thought our focus [during the rally] was pretty good,” Taylor said. “And we have so many seniors on the field who have a good deal of leadership, so they kind of kept us on track.”

Douthett broke up the Bulldogs’ run, however, as she tallied her third of the afternoon to widen Dartmouth’s lead to two.

Melniker and Douthett each scored once, with 7:01 and 6:20 left to play, respectively, to maintain the Big Green’s two-goal advantage. Sargent assisted Croffy on a last-minute goal with 58 seconds left to play, but Wills and the Dartmouth defense contained Yale’s attack to deny the Elis another scoring opportunity.

The Bulldogs, though disheartened by the loss, are confident that success is imminent. The Elis are adjusting to a new style of attack and a new substitution pattern which was initiated just prior to Yale’s 6-4 win over No. 9 Boston University Wednesday.

“It’s just going to take time,” Taylor said. “We were kind of starting from square one after the BU game. We turned over a new leaf there, and we’ll only get better because we’re building on this new style and new substitution.”