It was an unpredictable opening weekend for the Yale field hockey team. The Bulldogs played two rollercoaster games and suffered two losses, despite leading No. 20 Stanford for 40 minutes and despite an improbable comeback in the final minutes of the first half against Quinnipiac.

An early 11 a.m. start time Saturday did not faze the Bulldogs, as Maddy Sharp ’13 deflected a shot by Emily Schuckert ’14 into the Stanford net just 1:56 into the game. While the Cardinal defense seemed to awaken as the half went on, the Bulldogs were wide awake from the start. Thanks to ten first-half saves from Emily Cain ’14, the Bulldogs headed to halftime with a 1-0 lead.

But Stanford’s offense came to life in the second half, tallying three quick goals in less than eight minutes. That left the Bulldogs reeling and facing a 3-1 deficit to boot. Yale’s defense recovered and ultimately held the high-powered Cardinal offense off the board for over 60 of 70 minutes, but that outburst was enough to propel Stanford to its third win.

Much of Yale’s defensive success was due to an 11-save performance from Cain, who was playing her first contest as the Bulldogs’ full-time starter.

“We went into this weekend knowing the challenges we would face playing two tough teams,” Cain said. “The outcome was not what we would have hoped for, but we are facing some of the best teams in the country this season and every game is going to be a battle.”

Fellow keeper Ona McConnell ’13 was also a part of Saturday’s story, as the game marked the launch of the “Get a Grip” Campaign, a fundraising initiative sponsored by the team to benefit Myotonic Dystrophy, a disease McConnell has battled since her diagnosis two years ago. Shirts were on sale and donations were taken Saturday, while the Bulldogs wore special jerseys to raise awareness.

As if the emotions of a season-opener against a ranked team to honor a teammate battling a crippling disease were not enough for one weekend, the Bulldogs then traveled up the road to Hamden Sunday for a showdown with nearby rival Quinnipiac.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 14:15, when Danielle Allan sent a feed from the top of the circle past Cain for her third goal of the young season. Just when it looked like Quinnipiac would take that 1-0 lead to halftime, the Yale offense responded, flipping the script in the final three minutes of the half to take a 2-1 lead after the first period.

The spark came from members of the Bulldogs’ senior class, captain Erin Carter ’12 and forward Mia Rosati ’12. Rosati deflected a ball from Carter into the Quinnipiac net to tie the game at 32:14, and just two minutes later, Carter buried a ball from midfielder Chelsey Locarno ’12 to give her team the halftime lead.

But, like that of Yale, Quinnipiac’s comeback did not take long. The Bobcats capitalized on a corner just two minutes into the second half to knot things up.

The game would remain tied through the rest of regulation and two fifteen-minute overtime periods, though the Bulldogs were in control for much of the final sixty minutes.

“This weekend was obviously very frustrating for us,” midfielder Mary Beth Barham ’13 said. “Today it was unfortunate in that we dominated but could not show that on the scoreboard.”

That scoreboard was wiped clean after 100 minutes of play, and it was time for strokes, field hockey’s version of the penalty kick. Each team gets five chances, with the most makes winning the game.

Quinnipiac put the pressure on with a make on its first stroke, but captain Carter answered with a make for the Bulldogs. The Bobcats hit their second attempt, as well, but Yale could not, giving Quinnipiac the 2-1 lead. Megan McCreedy made it a perfect 3-3 for the Bobcats, but Georgia Holland ’14 held the Bulldogs in it with a make to send the score to 3-2.

Quinnipiac then missed, breathing life into the Bulldogs, but another Yale miss followed by a Bobcat make gave the squad from Hamden the win.

“I don’t think we anticipated that the game would be as much of a challenge as it turned out to be,” forward Kirsten Krebs ’12 said. “At the end of the day, I still think we’re a better team. We were in better shape and we dominated the game. I think it will end up being beneficial to us because we had the opportunity to play two overtime periods and practice penalty strokes under high pressure — when it comes to important in-league games, we’ll be even more prepared.”

The Bulldogs will have to rebound quickly from this weekend, as a trip to Hofstra and Albany — two schools just outside the top 20 receiving votes in the national poll — awaits next weekend.

“We came out with strong intensity in both games, but we could have done a better job capitalizing on the chances we generated,” Sharp said. “We let our emotions get the best of us, but we’ve been playing well and we learned some valuable lessons from the past two days. It’s unfortunate to emerge from the weekend with two losses but we’re more determined than ever to have a strong showing next weekend.”