The mental aspects of golf can often overshadow its physical components and completely change the way the game is played. The women’s golf team ran into just such a challenge this weekend when it tried to overcome an early Harvard lead at the Dartmouth Invitational, but the Elis found themselves dropping further back in the pack.

The Bulldogs finished sixth in a 17-team field at the Hanover Country Club in New Hampshire, coupling a Saturday team score of 306 with a Sunday score of 327. The two-day total of 633 left the Elis 34 strokes behind the victorious Crimson. The team left the club in second place at the end of Day 1 — a mere nine strokes behind the Cantabs — but on day two, the Bulldogs got ahead of themselves, team members said.

“Instead of sticking with our game plan of playing one shot at a time and staying in the present, we were hard on ourselves,” Ellie Brophy ’08 said. “We missed opportunities and ended up scoring poorly.”

On Sunday, the squad could not maintain its day-one pace, finishing 21 strokes worse than their Day 1 total. Brophy said the loss served as proof that the Elis need to refocus their energy on the right target — the course itself.

“You have to play the course, and if you score better than your opponent, you will beat them,” she said. “[Instead] we played our competitors on Sunday, and the course dominated us.”

Brophy shot 161, and Captain Cindy Shin ’07 shot a team best, nine-over 153 and finished tied for seventh individually.

The tournament boasted a strong field, and the scoring was good during both days of the warm September weekend. The Bulldogs finished behind three Ivy League foes, including second-place Columbia (620 two-day total) and fifth-place Dartmouth (630 two-day total). This left the Elis fourth among the Ancient Eight schools represented, with only Brown finishing below the Bulldogs.

“Many of the good schools came to compete,” Erica Im ’09 said. “We got to see what our strengths and weaknesses are. We know that there are a lot of schools improving their programs, hoping to win the Ivies.”

The Bulldogs finished first in the Ivy League last year, beating rival Harvard by five strokes at the Great Gorge Golf Course in Vernon, N.J. They must now work to defend their title in the increasingly competitive league.

“Competition in the Ivy League has improved drastically in the last few years,” Brophy said. “Harvard played exceptionally this weekend, and we need to step up our game if we plan on winning tournaments.”

The Elis will hit the links again on Saturday and Sunday for the Penn State Invitational at the Penn State Blue Course and will return to New Haven to host the Yale Intercollegiate beginning September 30.