With defeats to Cornell and No. 2 Syracuse this weekend capping a four-game losing streak, the field hockey team is still trying to figure out what it takes to turn the tide in their favor.

The Bulldogs (2-7, 0-3 Ivy) traveled to upstate New York this weekend for back to back games against the Big Red (6-4, 3-0) and the Orange (12-0). Saturday’s game against Cornell went into overtime, but ended in a disappointing Yale defeat, 2-1. The Elis competed against Syracuse on Sunday, played better, but still lost, 3-0.

Head coach Pam Stuper said last Sunday’s game against Lock Haven was one of the best played of the season. Though it ended in a Yale loss, 2-1, the Bulldogs gained confidence in their game and hoped to stay at that level of play into this weekend.

“We felt like we had turned a corner,” captain Ali Rotondo ’09 said of the Bulldogs’ solid performance against Lock Haven.

This made the loss against Cornell all the more disappointing.

“I don’t think that we really took what we did in Lock Haven and applied it to Cornell,” Stuper said.

She explained that the Bulldogs started the game on their heels and were in a bad position that allowed the Big Red to score 37 seconds into Saturday’s game. After regrouping, Yale kept Cornell at one goal for the next 69 minutes, she added.

On the Elis’ first penalty corner of the day, Julia Weiser ’10 scored to tie the game at one with seven minutes left in the second half. Going into overtime, goalie Katie Bolling ’11 was able to save one of Cornell’s shots off of a penalty corner, but the rebound shot slipped past her a split second later and ended the game in the Big Red’s favor.

Stuper said Yale did some of the things they needed to do in order to be successful, like controlling the midfield play, but the Bulldogs didn’t generate enough offensive opportunities. By the end of Saturday’s game, the Big Red had a 24-4 edge in shots and a 9-1 edge in penalty corners.

“Cornell just broke through our defense a little more than we broke through theirs,” Stuper said.

On Sunday, the Bulldogs faced Syracuse, the only remaining undefeated college team in the nation. But though they knew it would be a tough game, Rotondo said, Yale was able to bounce back from Saturday’s game and play well against the Orange. Although the game still ended in an Eli loss, Stuper said it was their best defensive play of the season.

“I think we played with the mentality to win every moment,” she said.

Yale is one of five teams this season that have held Syracuse to three or fewer goals. By the end of Sunday’s game, the Orange had a significant advantage in shots, 30-4, and penalty corners, 17-3. Two of their three goals were off of penalty corners.

Bolling was an important part of the defensive play this weekend. She started for the second and third times in her career, playing the entirety of both games, and made 24 saves overall. This is a break from the norm, since Charlotte Goins ’10 played all of last year’s games and the majority of this season’s. But Stuper said that Bolling had done a good job for the Bulldogs last weekend against Lock Haven, and had earned the start. Her decision was not a reflection on Goins’ play.

The Bulldogs are happy to have two goalies that they can depend on.

“The dynamic is so awesome between them,” midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 said.

Looking ahead to the second half of their season, the Bulldogs will be trying to figure out what they need to do to play at a consistently high level, because they feel that their record is not a reflection of where they are as a team.

“[(2-7)] is so not where we want to be,” Cantore said.

Yale goes on the road next Sunday to face No. 4 North Carolina in a neutral-field game at Boston College.