A heartbreaking Ivy loss this weekend caused the field hockey team to slip two slots in the conference rankings — too far down to pull off a first-place finish this season.

The Bulldogs (7-8, 2-3 Ivy) dropped a close 4-3 overtime match to league foe Penn (7-8, 3-2) on Friday night in Philadelphia. And the weekend only got tougher, as yesterday afternoon they took another tough defeat, falling to Lock Haven (13-5) in a disappointing 3-1 loss. The Sunday match was the Elis’ final non-conference encounter of the season.

The match against the Quakers began on level footing, and the Bulldogs did not falter even on the unfamiliar Sprinturf surface of Franklin Field. Though Penn midfielder Meghan Rose was the first to score, putting the home team on the board at 13:46, the Elis responded almost immediately. Forward Cat Lindroth ’08, assisted by forward Ashley McCauley ’10, found the back of the net only minutes later at 15:36, knotting the game at one.

Neither team would score again until the second period, when Penn took the lead with a goal at 42:52. McCauley tied things up again with a goal of her own less than three minutes later. At 61:51, the Bulldogs pulled ahead for the first time in the match when midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 scored, putting away her first collegiate goal.

“It was a great feeling,” Rotondo said. “As a midfielder, I’d been in a position to score all season, and I was excited that the chance came at the time it did and put us ahead 3-2. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep that lead.”

With just over four minutes to play, Penn midfielder Nicole Black tied the game again off an assist from forward Jamie Calahan, and the two Ivy competitors entered overtime. But at 72:56, the overtime period came to a sudden halt when a wide-open Black snagged a pass from the right side and fired one past goaltender Charlotte Goins ’10 for her second goal of the game — the goal that ultimately gave the Quakers the 4-3 victory.

“I think we had some good hockey and some great moments,” Yale head coach Pam Stuper said. “We just didn’t mark as well as we needed to at some critical times, and that allowed Penn to score. That was the difference.”

The Elis started strong yesterday afternoon, breaking onto the scoreboard at 19:22 when McCauley beat out Lock Haven goalie Ali Harris on the Bulldogs’ sole penalty corner of the first half. Neither team scored again in the first, leaving the Elis leading 1-0 going into the second period. But at 40:24, Lock Haven forward Suzann Hobart tucked the ball in from the left post, tying up the game and setting the tone for what would be a dispiriting second half for the Bulldogs.

At 43:44, Hobart put away her second goal of the game, lofting the ball through the air and into the upper left corner of the net. And at 55:42, the Lady Eagles tacked on one last goal to their score, giving them the 3-1 lead that they would hold onto until the final whistle blew 15 minutes later.

“Yesterday, we played 35 minutes of good hockey,” Stuper said. “And we can’t win a game playing just half of it. We had a tremendous first half and wound up controlling the game, and we were playing some good hockey. Then for some reason we just fell apart and they scored two goals on us, and then it was a fight from behind.”

The loss to Penn puts the Elis in sixth place in the Ivy standings, and the loss to Lock Haven sends them below a .500 record for the first time since the beginning of October. But with two games left to play, both of which are Ivy matchups, the Bulldogs can still finish with a winning record both overall and in league play. And they plan to do just that, team captain Harriet Thayer ’08 said.

“This weekend, I think we played well, but we didn’t really complete our play,” she said. “We definitely learned something from the weekend, though, and we’re looking forward to our next two Ivies. We’ll do what we can this week to adjust our play and go after those games.”