The women’s lacrosse team played the James Madison Dukes tightly for the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s game. It was the last 20 that cost the Elis a chance to upset the No. 9-ranked team in the country.

The Bulldogs (2-1) were slow out of the gate to start this weekend’s game, eventually falling 13-9 in Harrisonburg, Va. to the Dukes (2-1). Although Yale lost, the game was an encouraging sign on many levels. The Elis managed to stay close with one of the country’s premier women’s lacrosse programs and demonstrated the ability to respond to early adversity.

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The team gave up three goals in the first three minutes and looked overmatched by the Dukes. But all-Ivy midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 came through for the Elis, stopping the Dukes’ assault by notching the first of her four goals with 21:16 left in the first half.

“Lauren’s our best player, and we count on her for a lot of things,” midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 said. “She always lives up to my expectations, but we can’t expect to put that much pressure on her and expect her to always come through for us.”

After getting over their early jitters, the Elis rallied to tie the score at 4-4 when a goal by midfielder Kat Peetz ’08 with 6:02 left in the first half capped a 3-0 spurt by the Bulldogs. Regrettably, the Elis closed the last three minutes of the first frame the way they began it — by letting the Dukes notch three quick goals in the final 3:33. Despite the JMU assault, the Bulldogs entered halftime with a manageable two-goal deficit.

The start of the second half was a mirror image of the first. This time, the Bulldogs were the ones who looked ready to play. Taylor scored two huge goals in the first three minutes as the Elis notched three of the first four goals of the second period to tie the score at 8-8.

“[Taylor] is a great leader and she really knows her stuff,” midfielder Sara Greenberg ’09 said. “She can definitely get a goal when we most need it. She’s our go-to player.”

In spite of their strong start, the Bulldogs fell victim to the same inconsistent lapses that plagued them in the first half. The Dukes managed to score four unanswered goals in the next 12 minutes that effectively decided the game’s outcome.

“We were pretty inconsistent,” Fragapane said. “The talent is there to be able to put a full game together without having a 10-minute lapse here or there. If we can do that, I’d definitely expect our team to win the Ivies.”

The Bulldogs’ tough non-conference schedule will offer the team the opportunity to gain valuable experience and concentrate on specific areas of improvement heading into conference competition.

“There are a few things we need to work out offensively and defensively,” Fragapane said. “Once we come together, I think we could be unstoppable.”

The Elis may no longer boast a perfect record, but the 1-1 squad is far from discouraged.

“We played well,” attacker Lawrie Peck ’09 said. “JMU was in the top ten, and we kept our own for most of it.”