The men’s lacrosse team has struggled this season to hit its stride, and yesterday’s narrow loss to Dartmouth showed that the Elis are still lacking needed momentum.

The Elis (5-7, 1-4 Ivy) fell to the Big Green (5-6, 1-2 Ivy), 12-10, in Hanover, N.H. Despite their early lead, the Bulldogs let their offense and defense slip, allowing their opponents to overtake them. They played catch-up for the rest of the game, to no avail.

“It was very disappointing. We did not play as well as we could have on both sides of the fields,” attack Tyler Casertano ’08 said. “We did not come ready to play.”

The Bulldogs started off strong, opening with a goal by attackman Chris Kempner ’07 after a feed from attackman Dan Brillman ’06. Following two wide shots by midfielder David Schecter ’06 and Kempner, attacker Kyle Washabaugh ’08 grabbed a ground ball and sent it up the field to Schecter, who hit the net, leaving the Bulldogs up 2-0.

But the Elis could not keep up with Dartmouth’s offense. Casertano said Dartmouth took more shots because they dominated the ground balls throughout the game.

“They were able to create more possession for themselves in the middle of the field,” he said. “They won a majority of the ground balls ,which turned out to be the deciding factor.”

The Big Green closed in on the Bulldogs, finally evening up the game at 2-2. But after a Dartmouth turnover with 1:45 remaining, Brillman scored to return the lead to the Elis at the end of the first quarter.

Brillman and Kempner took the first two shots of the second quarter, but both fell short. The Big Green responded to knot the score at 3, but with 9:52 remaining, middie Brian Belsky ’07 scored with an assist from Brillman to put the Bulldogs up by one.

A penalty on Mark Schlam ’09 marked the turning point in the game. The Bulldogs gave up an extra-man opportunity to the Big Green, only to shut it down initially. But Dartmouth finally gained full possession and went on a three-goal rally to capture a 7-4 lead over Yale.

The Elis tried to come back with an attempt by Brillman, then a goal by Schecter with 0:26 remaining and finally a wide shot by Belsky.

Even though the Bulldogs went into halftime down by two goals, goalie George Carafides ’08 provided some highlights. He finished with eight saves in the first two quarters.

“George made three or four one-on-one saves,” long pole Gray Eklund ’06 said. “He had some very memorable saves.”

After the break, the Bulldogs put up a good fight, outshooting the Big Green, 11-7. Unfortunately for the Elis, attempts by Washabaugh, Brillman and Kempner failed to hit the net. Finally, midfielder Jonathan Koenig ’08 scored the first goal of the second half.

After Patrick Grimm ’08 grabbed two ground ball and standout rookie attack Michael Karwoski ’09, Casertano evened up the score on a feed from Washabaugh, but Dartmouth responded once again with two tallies to push ahead. The third quarter ended with the Elis still down, 10-9, despite goals by Belsky and Washabaugh.

In the fourth quarter, Lindsey hit the net to tie the game for the third time, but no luck seemed to be with the Elis. Their comeback was halted during the rest of the final frame, when the Bulldogs were held off the scoreboard while the Big Green took the game with two more goals.

With an important game at home against Harvard this Saturday, Casertano said the Bulldogs cannot afford to over-analyze the loss. Instead, he said, the Bulldogs need to move on and learn from their mistakes in order to get ready for what will likely be a tough and important game — and their last Ivy League game before the tournament. Brillman expressed similar sentiments.

“Harvard is the biggest game and everybody looks forward to it. We have to figure out a perfect game plan on Saturday in order to win,” Brillman said.