The women’s lacrosse team opened the second half of its season with a tough loss at Harvard on Saturday afternoon.

A late trio of goals by the Crimson’s Kaitlin Martin gave the Cantabs an 8-5 victory.

Going into the match, the Elis (2-7, 0-3 Ivy) seemed to have an edge over the Crimson (4-5, 1-1), as Yale had won 13 of the past 14 contests between the two teams. Last year, midfielder Jenn Warden ’09 had four goals when the Bulldogs crushed their rivals 14-6.

“Despite any records or how well the teams are doing in any season, this game is always going to be tough,” captain and midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 said.

As with many games this season, the Elis trailed early on. The Crimson jumped to a quick lead just one minute into the match when a shot by Harvard’s Jess Halpern went past goalie Whitney Quackenbush ’12. Quackenbush had 12 saves in the match.

Attacker Jenna Block ’10 scored five minutes later to tie the game.

The first half stayed even for more than 15 minutes, and the Bulldogs looked as though they were keeping up with the Crimson. But once again it was Harvard that broke the tie; the hosts scored a pair of goals in less than 30 seconds around the 23-minute mark.

Midfielder Logan Greer ’11 scored her fourth goal of the season to help the Bulldogs pull within one. But the Crimson extended their lead to two again after a free position shot with nine seconds left. Harvard ended the half with a 4-2 lead.

But a two goal deficit was not as daunting as it seemed. Yale has been stronger in the second half of games so far this season, so the Elis expected that they would be able to rally.

“We came out much hungrier in the second half,” Block said. “We were varying our shots and things started to go our way.”

Once again, however, it was Harvard that scored the early goal. At almost the same time into the second half as in the first when Halpern first scored, she added a second goal to extend the Crimson’s lead to 5-2.

Sticking to the same script, Block scored immediately afterward. This kicked off three straight Eli goals. Midfielders Warden and Ariana Papier ’11 contributed goals in the Bulldogs’ run.

“We knew that if we created the opportunities we’d be able to convert on those changes,” Warden said.

By that point, Yale had tied the game at five goals apiece, and it appeared as though the Elis’ momentum would carry them past Harvard. But the Bulldogs did not score again, and a late hat trick by the Crimson’s Martin squelched any chance of a Yale comeback.

Most of Harvard’s success can be attributed to the team’s play in the transition game. The Elis have struggled this season with generating sustained offense and moving the ball up the field. Harvard outshot Yale (23-17), gathered more ground balls (16-13) and took the edge in draw controls (8-7).

The Bulldogs will be back on the field Wednesday at Holy Cross (2-8) and will resume conference play when they host Princeton (7-1, 1-0) at Reese Stadium on Saturday.

“Now is the time for our team to step up and play for pride,” Block said.