The women’s lacrosse team’s return to Johnson Field yesterday brought with it a familiar routine: building up a sizeable early lead and never looking back.

Rebounding from a tough 9-6 loss to No. 2 Princeton (9-0, 3-0 Ivy) last weekend on the road, the No. 13 Bulldogs (9-4, 3-2) easily disposed of Columbia (3-8, 0-6) on Wednesday afternoon, 16-8. In four of their last five games — the anomaly being Saturday’s stumble against the undefeated Tigers — the Elis have come out swinging, achieving at least a six-goal lead while keeping their opponents to no more than three goals in the first half.

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“After losing to Princeton on Saturday, we know that we need to make a statement in every game if we want to make it into the Tournament,” defender Natalie Reid ’10 said. “We definitely did today, especially in the first half of the game.”

The Bulldogs’ start yesterday afternoon was as promising as the weather — the Elis went on a 6-0 run to open the half. Attacker Jess Sturgill ’10 broke through first with an unassisted tally at the seven-minute mark, setting off a stretch in which the Elis averaged just under a goal per minute. Meredith Callahan ’08 and Linden Ellis ’09 each picked up a pair of goals in that span, while Lauren Taylor ’08 added a goal and two assists.

Columbia’s Holly Glynn finally put the visitors on the board with 14:57 left in the half, but captain Kat Peetz ’08 responded 54 seconds later. Rookie Ariana Papier ’11 followed Peetz a minute after that to make the score 8-1. Taylor assisted both goals.

The Lions earned their second point 10 minutes before half time, but they could not seem to break the Bulldogs’ early momentum. Jenna Block ’10, Callahan, Taylor and Jenn Warden ’09 chipped in a goal apiece as the Elis notched four unanswered goals to close out the half, 12-2.

After the break, the Bulldog offense quieted down significantly, but the Lions could not capitalize on the opportunity, mustering only six goals in the second while the Elis put away another four.

Columbia did get the first word in the second half, however, forcing netminder Ellen Cameron ’08 to give up her third goal of the game with 24:34 left on the clock. Taylor answered with a free position tally two minutes later, setting off a back-and-forth battle that would last the rest of the game. Although the Bulldog bench saw a good deal of playing time in the second half, the final three goals came from familiar sources — seniors Peetz, Taylor and Callahan.

“Our seniors today performed great,” head coach Laura Field said. “We got 10 points from Meredith Callahan, Lauren Taylor and Kat Peetz. Those goals alone powered us through a few sloppy moments in the game and showed what great leaders on the field those three are. I was also pleased with the performances of Jess Champion and Michele Fiorentino on defense, who held Columbia’s two best attackers to only three goals total.”

Although the Lions are currently winless in the Ivy League, going into the game Peetz had stressed that the Bulldogs could not underestimate Columbia.

And so the Elis dominated nearly every statistical category yesterday, with sizeable edges on shots, ground balls and draw controls. Taylor and Callahan led the way offensively with four goals apiece, while Taylor Fragapane ’09 had a team-high three caused turnovers and picked up three ground balls.

The Bulldogs also saw strong performances in goal from both Cameron and Katie Janian ’11. Cameron earned three saves in 38 minutes between the pipes before Janian stepped in. The rookie goalie had two stops in 22 minutes of relief — valuable playing time as she prepares to fill Cameron’s large shoes next season.

“We were able again to get our whole team in the game, and I think against a very athletic and talented Columbia team that was something that we were very happy to do,” Field added. “Cultivating the depths of our bench is something that will serve us well as we try for the post-season and helps us even more for the future.”

The Bulldogs have a weekend hiatus from Ancient Eight play coming up and will head south to face UMBC on Sunday afternoon.