The calendar may have read 2005, but it may as well have been straight out of this women’s lacrosse season. A halftime deficit. A valiant late comeback. But after a jarring final whistle, a heartbreaking loss.

The Elis nearly toppled the daunting then-No. 7 Big Green this same weekend last year at Johnson Field, but this season will have the extra obstacle of traveling to their enemy’s lair to avenge the narrow defeat.

Yale (3-4, 0-1 Ivy) heads to the Granite State Saturday afternoon to face defending Ivy Champion No. 13 Dartmouth (3-2, 0-0 Ivy), their third ranked opponent in as many games. The Big Green will host a Bulldogs squad that desperately needs a victory to stay afloat in the Ancient Eight race.

“The hard practices for the rest of the week will set up for a very intense game,” midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said. “They’re always a huge rival, and especially with our loss to Penn already, this is a critical spot for competing for the Ivy title.”

While the Dartmouth game may historically be critical for Eli lacrosse, in recent years, it has been the benchmark of a somewhat lopsided rivalry. The 2006 Big Green are just another well-oiled manifestation of a mini-dynasty that has captured at least part of nine of the last 11 league titles dating back to 1995.

The Big Green’s 3-2 record may be a little deceiving, though the squad did drop from a season-high No. 3 ranking in early February down to its current No. 13. Dartmouth was upset by Syracuse in a shocking double-overtime collapse in the season opener, then rattled off three straight victories before butting heads with national powerhouse No. 6 Maryland Tuesday night in College Park. The visiting Big Green pulled ahead early, but will bring the scars of a 13-8 loss back to New Hampshire with them.

The Bulldogs, in the meantime, are coming off their toughest stretch of the season, having lost a tight battle with the Quakers last Saturday and then being blown apart at No. 12 Boston University, 15-5, Wednesday afternoon. Captain Sarah Scalia ’06 said these early tests will be manageable if the squad can learn from its mistakes.

“We knew coming into this week how tough it was going to be,” she said. “We just can’t repeat the mistakes we’ve made so far. We’ll pay more attention and have more confidence.”

The Big Green begin the defense of their Ivy League crown with Saturday’s game, its first against a league opponent. Though the solid defeat at Maryland may have detracted from the team’s momentum, senior middie Casey Hazel will still be riding high on her Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors for her seven points in the Big Green’s March 18 drubbing of James Madison. On top of that, three-time All-American goalie Devon Wills will hardly be a sight for sore eyes for a Bulldogs team that scored a season low five goals in their last outing.

Through their first seven games, the Elis’ lone win away from New Haven was March 14, when they eked past Colgate at a neutral site in West Palm Beach, Fla. But after tomorrow’s game, Yale only has to leave the Elm City twice in its last eight meetings.

Midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 said leaving Connecticut should not affect her team.

“We’re lucky to get as many home dates as we do, and we should be able to fight through any disadvantages of being on the road,” she said. “It’s good for us that we’re playing all these tough games in a row. If we can be down only 6-3 at halftime against BU, we’re going to be able to beat anyone.”