Despite edges in almost every major offensive category, the men’s lacrosse team could not eke past Princeton in a low-scoring game that came down to a battle of the goaltenders.

The Bulldogs (4-3, 0-3 Ivy) dropped their third straight Ivy League game to the No. 8 Tigers (5-2, 1-0) on Saturday, 5-3. Despite a solid effort, the squad could not convert enough chances against Princeton’s Alex Hewitt, one of the top goaltenders in the nation, to pull ahead.

“It was frustrating to lose, but we were very happy with the way we played,” defender Pat Grimm ’08 said. “Defensively it was a much better showing than Cornell, and we were good on ground balls, but their goalie had a great day.”

Saturday’s loss, coupled with defeats at the hands of Cornell and Penn over the last two weeks, essentially eliminates Yale’s chances for the title.

The Princeton game got off to a slow start, as neither team seemed to be able to score in the first quarter. Princeton attacker Peter Trombino was the only player to find the back of the net in the period, giving the Tigers a 1-0 advantage with an unassisted goal in the sixth minute of the game.

Although things heated up in the second quarter, the Bulldogs still struggled to get the ball past Hewitt, who held the Eli attackers to just one goal in the first half. Captain Chris Kempner ’07 buried a feed from attacker Kyle Washabaugh ’08 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the period, but the Tigers responded with three goals of their own to take a 4-1 lead at the break.

The Elis gained some momentum in the third quarter, moving within striking distance of the Tigers with two goals. First, Kempner set up Washabaugh to score at 3:24, cutting Princeton’s lead to two. After another Tiger goal, the Elis responded with a big play by Brendan Gibson ’10. Attacker Tyler Casertano ’08 sent the freshman attacker a low feed, which Gibson scooped off the ground and fired high into the net past Hewitt.

But Gibson’s tally would turn out to be the last of the game, as neither team could score in an otherwise exciting fourth quarter. Both goalies made several key saves in the penalty-ridden period as the Tigers clung to a 5-3 lead in their fourth straight victory.

“We were disappointed to lose, but we were happy with the effort that we showed out there,” Kempner said. “We really fought hard and did a lot of the little things right even though we lost.”

One of the deciding factors in the game was All-American Hewitt, who made a season-high 14 saves as he kept the Bulldogs to just three goals. He held up against the pressure from the Eli attackers, even when the Tigers were playing a man down, and was busy in the second half with eight saves.

“He is known as one of the top goalies in the nation, and he proved it on Saturday,” attacker Mike Karwoski ’09 said. “He stopped quite a few of our point-blank shots, and he really played well for his team.”

Hewitt’s performance also overshadowed that of the Eli defenders, who played well against one of the top teams in the NCAA. George Carafides ’08 had seven saves for the Bulldogs, holding the potent Princeton offense — which averages 11 goals per game — to just five tallies.

There is no doubt that the loss hurt the Elis’ future. The squad is still winless in the Ivy League after its first three games, which will all but eliminate Yale from the title chase.

“It definitely puts us in a tough position to win the Ivy League, and I think we’re out of it now,” Grimm said. “But we still have a lot of quality teams on our schedule. If we continue to play well, we can beat the better teams on our schedule and have a chance for post-season play.”