After a dominant 5–0 start to the season, the Yale women’s lacrosse team came crashing back down to Earth with a pair of close conference losses over break against Penn and Harvard.

The Bulldogs (5–2, 1–2 Ivy) lost 11–9 to the No. 12 Quakers (5–2, 2–0) after falling behind early and failing to even the score from then on. Last Saturday against the Crimson (4–3, 2–1), three goals in a 2:54 span in the first half gave Harvard a lead the team would not relinquish.

“Obviously the result was a little upsetting,” said defenseman Courtney Reilly ’16, who was sidelined with an injury for the two games. “Sometimes our shots weren’t falling or things just weren’t happening, but everyone was trying their best, which is all we can ask for.”

Despite a fantastic run to start the season, during which the Elis held all opponents to eight goals or fewer and scored in double digits each time, the Blue and White entered its game against Penn as the decided underdogs. The Quakers’ only two losses have come against the top two teams in the nation, and Penn has shared or won outright each of the last seven conference championships. The squad lived up to its billing against Yale, taking a 7–3 lead into halftime.

Following the intermission, however, the Bulldogs kept fighting. Attacker Kerri Fleishhacker ’15 opened the scoring just 24 seconds in with an unassisted goal. After a Penn goal at the 26:52 mark, three straight Yale goals by Fleishhacker and midfielder Erin Magnuson ’15 cut the Quaker lead to one.

But Penn held the Elis scoreless for nearly 12 minutes while scoring a goal of its own. After that stretch, Yale scored two goals via attacker Nicole Daniggelis ’16 and Fleishhacker, but each was met by a quick response from the Quakers, and Penn escaped with the victory.

“If we had come out as strong as we finished the game against Penn, I really believe we could have won the game,” midfielder Tori Virtue ’16 said in an email. “In the first ten minutes, we did not demonstrate how good of a team we are and once we got going, we outplayed and outscored them in the second half.”

A week later, the Bulldogs hosted their archriva, welcoming the Crimson by getting on the scoreboard first with goals from Daniggelis and Magnuson. After midfielder Christina Doherty ’15 scored in response to two scores by Harvard to regain the lead, it seemed like the Bulldogs were ready to answer any punch thrown their way.

That notion was shattered by three goals in under three minutes for the Crimson to take a 5–3 lead. Despite two free position goals by Daniggelis and attacker Jen DeVito ’14, Harvard held a 6–5 advantage at halftime, and the Cantabs lit up the scoreboard again just thirteen seconds into the second half. After Daniggelis’ goal with 11:08 remaining brought the Bulldogs within one, Harvard clamped down, holding Yale scoreless the rest of the way to clinch an 11–8 win.

“The Harvard game was definitely not our best showing,” Virtue said. “If anything, the loss has made our team realize that we have too much potential and too much talent on our team this season to let another game get away from us, as it did last weekend.”

While Yale struggled over the break, the Elis found more success against a familiar foe the Friday before, defeating Quinnipiac 15–8. Yale scored the first four goals of the game and a season-high ten goals in the first half, led by attacker Tess McEvoy ’17, who had four before halftime and five for the game to lead the team. The Bulldogs forced 24 turnovers and gave it up just 11 times on their own and put up 42 shots, compared to Quinnipiac’s 15.

Yale returns to action today at Boston University. The game starts at 4:00 p.m.