Hoping to avenge last season’s loss, the Bulldogs gave up a close 7–5 match against archrival Harvard on Saturday.

Although the defeat reflected the gloomy weather on the team’s Alumnae Day, Yale (2–5, 0–3 Ivy) nevertheless demonstrated that it is bouncing back from a slew of recent defeats against Notre Dame, Penn and Boston University. Whereas last year the team lost to Harvard (3–4, 1–2 Ivy) by 16 goals, the Elis walked away with only two goals short this season.

“Though we came out on the short end of 7–5, I am proud of how hard we played and how we almost closed the two-goal deficit late in the second half,” head coach Anne Phillips said.

She added that if the team had capitalized on its late-game opportunities, it could have come back to win.

An extended men’s lacrosse match forced the game to start 45 minutes later than scheduled, but Reese Stadium was already packed with about 500 spectators eagerly waiting to witness the much-anticipated clash of the two rivals. The Yale supporters began chanting “Bulldog!” nearly 10 minutes before the start of the game.

Yale’s attacker Sabine van der Linden ’14 and Harvard’s Kasey Uhlenhuth, both among their team’s tallest players, faced off at the start of the game. Amid 10 players fiercely struggling for ball possession in the Crimson’s zone, Harvard’s Melanie Baskind scooped up the ball and gave the Crimson the first possession. The Crimson made its first offensive drive in the third minute, with a rifle from Jamie Potter’s that went straight toward the net. But the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper Erin McMullan ’14 deflected the shot.

About a minute later, the Crimson’s Micaela Cyr set the flow of the match by slamming the game’s first goal straight past McMullan and into the Elis’ net. For much of the first half, Harvard continued its onslaught. Just three minutes after the first goal, Jenn VanderMeulen, who was first-team All-Ivy last year, followed with another. Within the next two minutes, the Crimson had added two more goals.

The Bulldogs’ agonizing first period did not end there. When the team switched to a zone defense towards the end of the first half, the Crimson collected three more goals, with VanderMeulen assisting the last goal before the whistle, and the Elis returned to a man-to-man defense. Although shots (13–13) and saves (5–5) were shared evenly between the two rivals, Harvard demonstrated strength in ground balls (9–6) and draw controls (5–3), and Yale went into the second half scoreless.

“Our first half penalties put a lot of pressure on our defense and allowed Harvard to take the lead early in the game,” Phillips said.

She added that poor shooting and three yellow cards hurt the team in the first half.

Coming off a humiliating 7–0 first half, the Elis transformed into a completely different team.

“After halftime, we knew that we had to make a change and that we could play better,” defender Kallie Parchman ’14 said. “We played with more intensity in the second half and executed our game plan.”

From the beginning, the Bulldogs were set on taking control of the game, with van der Linden winning the draw this time. Within a minute into the first half, attacker Jen DeVito ’14 made a quick assist right behind the goal post, and attacker Devon Rhodes ’13 connected the pass into the Crimson’s net.

Two minutes later, midfielder Ashley McCormick ’14 took advantage of the eight-meter free position shot to secure the Bulldogs’ second goal. At 14:44, after receiving a blow in the face, midfielder Cathryn Avallone ’15 capitalized on the freed position to secure her 12th goal of the season.

“I am really proud of the way our team stepped it up in the second half,” McMullan said.

The Bulldogs kept the momentum going, narrowing the score gap to three as Rhodes penetrated past four Crimson defenders to fire in the team’s fourth goal. Harvard’s attempt to slow down the Bulldogs’ pace by calling for a timeout proved futile as the captain and attacker Caroline Crow ’12 scooped up the ground ball, rallied to the post and scored the Elis’ last goal of the match.

Despite Yale’s relentless attacks, Harvard’s Nina Kucharczyk took a shot that McMullan blocked with only about two minutes remaining.

“We were trying to create turnovers, hoping to get the ball back and score quickly before the game ended,” McMullan said. “Our attack did a great job of riding at the end of the game, creating some turnovers on Harvard’s defensive end.”

Yale dominated the second period by recording more saves (6–2), shots (12–8) and ground balls (8–7) than the visiting Crimson, but the Bulldogs’ dramatic efforts to turn the game around fell short.

McMullan said defender duo Adrienne Tarver ’14 and Katherine Sherrill ’14 had to guard Harvard’s best players, and both held their respective marks to one goal each. The defense did not let up a single goal for the entire half and only allowed eight shots.

Phillips said the team is moving in the right direction and this will be an important week in the team’s overall development.

“Our offense finally got on track,” she said. “We have played from behind in each of our games this season, so limiting our fouls and shooting well will be our focus this week at practice.”

The Elis will travel to New York on Wednesday to take on Marist at 4 p.m.