Solid offense and an almost impenetrable defense couldn’t quite propel the field hockey team to the upset victory in its first matchup this weekend.

Despite a nine-save effort by the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper, the home team fell to then-No. 17 Providence, 2-1, in its Saturday season opener. Though the Friars eventually came out on top, a save tally that neared double digits was an impressive way for goalie Charlotte Goins ’10 to kick off her new role as Eli starter in net.

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The Friars (1-2), who had already played two games when they faced the Elis (0-1) at Johnson Field, poured on offensive power consistently throughout the match, taking thirteen shots in the first half alone to the Bulldogs’ six. But Goins stood strong, holding Providence scoreless until a penalty corner with just 4:05 to go in the half. Ashlyn Hudson gave the Friars the shot they needed to take the lead and ended Goins’ streak of holding opponents scoreless that dates back to last season — a run that lasted the first 97:47 of her career.

But the Bulldogs fought back in the second, tying the score up 1-1 at 55:58 when forward Cat Lindroth ’08 sent a hard pass from fullback Lorrie Kiger ’08 past the Providence goalkeeper, sliding it into the left corner of the visitors’ net. Kiger’s assist came off the only penalty corner the Elis would see in the second half and one of just three they had all game.

Though the Bulldogs evened out the score, the Friars continued to put pressure on Goins. With less than 10 minutes left to play, Providence managed to snag another goal, as forward Abby Maguire slotted one into the far right corner and took a 2-1 lead that the Friars would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.

Goins ended the match with an impressive nine saves, a testament to the barrage of shots on goal taken by Providence throughout the game — 11 to the Bulldogs’ four. The Friars also notched 25 shots overall to the Elis’ seven, a reflection of the 11 penalty corners they had over the course of play.

Despite the loss — the Bulldogs’ first defeat in a season opener in four years — the players’ impressive performances on both offense and defense against a nationally ranked team was encouraging, though there is plenty of room for improvement, Lindroth said.

“Looking back on the game, there are a lot of things we need to work on as a team,” she said. “But it was great to see our fitness level. We were in it all the way to the end, and I was really proud of how we held up as a team and persevered.”

Today, the Elis travel up to Storrs to face No. 3 UConn (3-0) in a 7:00 faceoff that could prove to be a taxing match. The Huskies advanced to the NCAA semifinals last year, falling to Maryland in a close game that was decided only through a shootout. They also fielded three All-America selections, two of whom returned this season, and are coming off a 3-1 victory over No. 6 Penn State (2-1-1). But this is a new year, and this year’s Bulldogs have the dedication to pull off a win, Lindroth said.

“We can take this team,” she said. “The only thing is, we have to not think of them as an unbreakable competitor.”