The ailing men’s lacrosse team could not pull out a victory last night despite a second-half comeback in Hanover, N.H.

The squad, which has yet to win a match against an Ancient Eight opponent, suffered a 17-14 loss to the Big Green in its penultimate conference competition. The Bulldogs trailed the home team, 4-9, in the opening half but managed 10 goals in the second period in a surge that fell short of Dartmouth’s eight-goal effort in the stanza.

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“It was just one of those games when both teams seemed to be hitting their shots,” attacker Tyler Casertano ’08 said. “Sometimes it happens in games, and it turns into an offensive battle.”

The Elis began their highest-scoring game of the season by falling behind early in the first quarter after a pair of Big Green goals. But Casertano managed to slide a pair of goals behind Dartmouth netminder Michael Novosel, one coming just nine seconds before the clock ran out.

But the home team’s two-goal margin quickly grew as the Big Green put away five goals in the second quarter on 11 shots. Then, not to be overshadowed by Casertano, attacker Mike Karwoski ’09 notched another two goals to bring the score to 9-4.

“We had a few opportunities we didn’t finish,” Karwoski said. “Coach had a talk with us during the half and picked up the team morale and gave us more of an incentive to fight harder in the second half. I thought that we started to play better lacrosse in the second half than in the first.”

To recover from the first half’s lackluster performance, the Elis converted a dozen shots into six goals to rival Dartmouth’s four scores and begin their 10-point attempted comeback.

The Yale run was then put on hold by four consecutive goals on just four shots by the Big Green. But Gibson, Karwoski and Casertano notched a third goal apiece when the Elis made a drive in the final three-and-a-half minutes before the clock expired and the visitors lost, 17-14. The Dartmouth scoring effort represents the most goals scored against the Bulldogs in 2008.

“We came up flat and went down a couple of goals early, so we had to play catchup,” attacker Brendan Gibson ’10 said. “It turned into a run-and-gun game, and both teams were finishing well. Unfortunately, they did a little better than us. They had a noticeably larger number on of one-on-ones with our goalie, and that’s a huge advantage.”

With the loss in the Granite State, the Bulldogs now have sole possession of last place in the conference standings because Dartmouth will pull away from the three-way tie for the fifth place the Elis, Harvard and the Big Green previously shared.

The Bulldogs are left with just one more chance to record a conference victory and pull their overall .300 record out of the cellar.

“It was obviously a very disappointing game and another loss that will be hard to take,” Casertano said. “We’re going to try and keep our heads up and move on to the next game because that’s really all we can do.”