Satisfaction can be found in a loss. And though the field hockey team has not experienced the thrill of beating Princeton in nearly 29 years, the team left Johnson Field on Saturday happy with its efforts.

Despite a solid performance, the Bulldogs fell to the Tigers, 2-1. Though the loss was a disappointing start to the Ivy League campaign, the women said they still expect to be among the league’s best at season’s end and showed the potential for that kind of success.

An uneventful first half, which saw Princeton largely on the offensive, was punctuated by a Tiger goal just as time expired. The goal, which came on a Princeton short corner, was a disappointing end to a hard-fought 35 minutes.

The Elis refused to allow the late goal to sap their energy, and they came out with high intensity at the beginning of the second half. Their early attack was highlighted by a score from midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08 less than four minutes after the break and three other excellent scoring chances immediately after.

The Bulldogs found new vigor and pushed the tempo even as both teams battled intense heat and cramping, forcing them to make additional substitutions.

Yet the Elis could not match a goal by Princeton attacker Katie Kinzer 11 minutes into the second half. A late rally and a breakaway opportunity for forward Ashley McCauley ’10 with three minutes left produced no change on the scoreboard.

Yale head coach Pam Stuper said she was impressed by her team’s desire and perseverance.

“I’ve never been more proud of the Yale team than today,” she said. “We had kids who had never played before who came off the bench and put in everything that they had.”

The Princeton team seemed equally impressed by the Bulldogs’ play. Tigers midfielder Paige Schmidt, last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, had high praise for the Eli squad.

“Whenever we come they always play so hard, they never give up,” Schmidt said. “Even today they played hard up to the last minute.”

The Princeton team, which finished 7-0 in the Ivy League last year, served as an excellent early test for Yale. The Elis will use the loss as a learning tool for their young players and a measuring stick for the season.

Meanwhile, Stuper is keeping her team in high spirits.

“I told my players, ‘You play like that and you’re going to go 6-1 in the Ivy League and someone will take care of Princeton. I’d take the way we played and take the loss rather then the win they had,’” she said.

The Bulldogs must see improved defensive performances and maximize on scoring opportunities if they hope to find success this season. Talented goalkeeper Elizabeth Friedlander ’07 continues to provide superb support in the backstop and an experienced group up front should deliver plenty of goals.

Captain and midfielder Heather Orrico ’07 said she too was pleased with the way the team played.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” she said. “This is the best we’ve played Princeton in my four years here. We know we can still be top in the Ivy League.”

Midfielder Alyssa Jethani ’09 emphasized the need to stay optimistic.

“We’ve never fought so hard and we only have to keep our heads high after that game.”

The team goes on a difficult Midwestern trip starting Thursday when they play Michigan State in East Lansing. They follow that game with contests in Chicago against another Big Ten opponent in Northwestern and a strong Stanford team.