After finishing last in their annual meet against Harvard and Princeton for the past four years, the women’s cross-country team finally defeated host Harvard, buoyed by a breakout performance by Liana Epstein ’14 on Saturday. The women took second to the nationally ranked Princeton with 36 points compared to the Tigers’ superior 27; Harvard fell far behind the pair with 71 points. On the men’s side, the Bulldogs lost in their competition against Harvard (34 to 23 points), though the Elis had won the meet last year.

The women showed their strength as a team, nabbing four spots in the top 10. Princeton, with race winner Alex Banfich, took five spots, leaving Harvard with just one. The spread of Yale’s five scoring runners was under 20 seconds, the smallest of all the teams competing.

“Our absolute goal was to beat Harvard,” women’s head coach Amy Gosztyla said. “We accomplished that, and now we are trying to chip away some more at Princeton.”

Epstein was the first Bulldog to cross the line, finishing the five-kilometer course in second place (17:39). She passed 10 runners, Gosztyla estimated, in the final mile. This is Epstein’s first race in a Yale uniform, after she battled injuries her freshman year.

“She’s been training really hard, working in the pool and staying smart,” Millie Chapman ’14 said. “It’s inspiring how amazing she had been and I’m excited to see how much she is improving.”

Chapman and teammate Elizabeth Marvin ’13 took sixth and seventh in 17:45, and Caitlin Hudson ’13 placed ninth (17:51). Jacque Sahlberg ’13 closed the pack with a 12th-place finish in 17:58.

Harvard has won five of its last six contests against the men’s cross-country team. According to Demetri Goutos ’13, the men’s team managed to work together and pack up more than they had in the past, lending each other encouragement throughout the meet. Ultimately, Goutos said they were too conservative.

“We let [Harvard] get a little bit too far ahead in the beginning,” Goutos said. “It was tough to catch up.”

For the second week in a row, Sam Lynch ’12 was the first Bulldog to finish, placing third overall (24:29). Conor Dooney ’12 was right behind, taking fourth (24:35). Goutos (24:48), Sam Kirtner ’13 (24:52) and Kevin Lunn ’13 (25:27) rounded up the group in seventh, eighth and 14th, respectively.

The Bulldogs have a week off before their next competition. On Sept. 30, they will join the rest of the Ivy League and other Division I schools in the Paul Short Invitational.