Thirty minutes into the Princeton Invitational, a surprise shower drenched the women’s golf team with rain. Despite their lack of rain gear, they kept playing and found themselves tied with Harvard for third place at the end of day one.

By the end of day two, the Bulldogs, led by captain Ellie Brophy ’08, fell to fifth place out of 15 teams, finishing only three strokes behind fourth-place Harvard and Georgetown. Yale beat out league competitors Dartmouth, Penn and Brown with its two-round score of 635, but Princeton placed first on its home turf with 614. Natasha Spackey ’09 and Harriet Owers-Bradley ’11 led the Elis with individual scores of 156, tying for ninth place.

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Yale head coach Chawwadee Rompothong said that the Bulldogs did not have any specific expectations beyond testing out the team in a competitive situation, especially since the Princeton Invitational was their first tournament of the year.

“Our expectation was to play ball, see how it goes, check out the competition,” Rompothong said. “It was good to get it out early and now we know what our weaknesses are.”

Spackey said the team is in a good position for growth this year.

“I think our team dynamic this year is much better than it was in past years,” Spackey said. “Our team captain is great, and our freshmen coming in are wonderful — their eyes are open to the experience and they are going to do well.”

The team’s overarching goal is to power through the 2008 Ivy League Championship in April, which could lead to regional and national competitions. Brophy said she is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.

“We have a lot of time, but our work is cut out for us,” she said. “We’ll spend the next seven months working and training hard, getting our game to where it needs to be for us to be successful when it really matters.”

But for the Bulldog rookies, it is the immense excitement of playing for Yale that made the weekend memorable.

“I was excited and glad that I made it through — we had to qualify into five spots from nine on the team,” Owers-Bradley said. “It was my first tournament, so I really didn’t know what to expect.”

This weekend, the women’s golf team plays at home, where the Elis will have a shot at avenging Harvard in a 15-team invitational.

“The Yale golf course is a very challenging course, and hopefully we’ll take advantage of our home course advantage,” Brophy said. “I’d say that we have high expectations for this weekend, and we’re going to play our own game and see where that takes us.”

With a team captain intent on spreading a common vision and a coach enthusiastic about the Bulldogs’ depth of skill, the upcoming season bodes well for the golfers.

“I think everyone challenges each other to play well, and there is a lot of depth in our team — anyone could play in the top five, it’s a healthy competition,” Rompothon said.