The first weekend of spring was anything but a walk in the park for the women’s lacrosse team, which fought its way back from behind three times to eke out an overtime victory over Dartmouth on Saturday.

After dropping their first Ivy game of the season to No. 8 Penn on Mar. 15, the No. 14 Bulldogs (5-3, 1-1 Ivy) rebounded with tenacity this weekend, besting No. 17 Dartmouth (3-3, 0-1) in a hostile Hanover environment, 9-8. Although it is still early in the Ancient Eight season, the Elis needed the win to keep their hopes of a championship alive and, perhaps more importantly, to bolster their spirits after two tough losses last week.

“The team really needed this win to end our two-game losing streak and look forward to the upcoming games,” captain Kat Peetz ’08 said. “I think that we proved to ourselves that we can perform well in high-pressure situations and play hard for an entire game to win.”

From the first whistle, it was clear that Saturday’s game was going to be a battle. The Bulldogs won the opening faceoff and midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 raced into Big Green territory to put the visitors ahead 1-0 with 36 seconds on the clock. But Dartmouth responded just as quickly, knotting the score at 1-1 before the first minute of play was up.

Although the pace slowed down a bit after that, the Big Green used the momentum from its first tally to build a 3-1 lead before Yale got on the board again. This time it was Peetz who took a feed from midfielder Jenn Warden ’09 and fired a sidearm shot the Dartmouth goalie Julie Wadland could not stop.

The Big Green then went on another run, scoring back-to-back free position goals to pull ahead 5-2 with 18 minutes left in the half.

But that was the farthest Yale would allow Dartmouth to slip out of its grasp. Attacker Jess Sturgill ’10 sparked a Bulldog comeback with a free position tally of her own midway through the period. Midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 followed up with a goal off a pass from Taylor two minutes later, and Sturgill found the equalizer with seven minutes to go, sending the Elis into halftime with a 5-5 tie.

The second period began in a similar fashion to the first — both teams traded goals in the opening minute. Although the Big Green found the back of the net first this time, Peetz responded with a free position goal 40 seconds later to keep the score tied, 6-6.

The home team broke the deadlock with back-to-back goals midway through the period. But that would prove to be the last gasp for the Dartmouth offense as the Bulldogs began their final surge.

Warden initiated the Yale comeback with an unusual goal in the 19th minute of the half. As she drove toward the Dartmouth net, Warden faced two Big Green defenders who knocked her to the ground. Not to be deterred, Warden regained control of the ball and fired a one-handed goal from the turf that put the Elis within striking distance.

And with a little patience, the Bulldogs netted the equalizer. Attacker Meredith Callahan ’08 found an open Linden Ellis ’09 from behind the cage with 8:18 left to play and dished her the ball. Ellis buried it in the back of the net, knotting the score at 8-8.

Then it was up to goalie Ellen Cameron ’08 and the Bulldog defense to contain the potent Dartmouth attack until the Elis could find another opening to score, which did not come until overtime.

The first extra period began in the Elis’ favor, as Fragapane chased down the opening draw control for Yale. Sturgill was thwarted on an early attempt to score, but Callahan managed to break through the Big Green defense with a minute left in the period. After initially bobbling a pass from Taylor in front of the net, Callahan regained possession and, fighting off two Dartmouth defenders, buried the ball in the back of the net.

“That goal was huge,” Peetz said. “However, we knew that we still had to work hard to keep possession and stop Dartmouth from scoring in the remaining four minutes.”

After running the clock in the first half of OT, the Elis regained possession in the second extra period and were set to hang on to the ball until time expired when a costly turnover with 54 seconds left gave Dartmouth another chance.

Defender Kaitlyn Flatley ’11 put the ball back in Eli hands with 36 seconds to go, but moments later another Yale turnover gave the hungry home team one last opportunity. This time defender Michele Fiorentino ’10 stepped up, regaining possession in the midfield and getting the ball to Fragapane after she was fouled with 10 seconds left. Fragapane carried the ball untouched into the Dartmouth zone as the clock wound down.

“Credit goes to everyone, from the players on the field to the players on the bench and the fans in the stands,” head coach Laura Field said after the game. “Dartmouth is very athletic and very talented. We matched that with our energy level. Our players all gave 100 percent.”

Yale’s scoring came from seven different sources, a diversity that has been crucial to the squad’s success this season. The Elis also saw strong play from the Yale defense, particularly defender Jess Champion ’08, who continued to play after getting knocked around late in the second half and having to leave the game for a few minutes.

The Bulldogs return to Johnson Field to take on Connecticut on Wednesday at 3 p.m.