Courtesy of Princeton Athletic Communications
CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- This time, there would be no close finish, no heartbreaking loss.
The top-ranked Princeton open women firmly established itself as the class of the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) by winning all four major grand finals, including a varsity eight victory that earned the Tigers the 2011 Ivy League women's rowing title.
“This was just an outstanding day,” said head coach, who won her fourth EAWRC title Sunday. “As coaches, we are just very proud. We’re lucky to have the alumni support we had here today, and I’m lucky for the work done by my assistant coaches and . The team was terrific today, and I’m so happy for them.”
Princeton won its 11th EAWRC championship and its first since 2006 by winning the varsity eight grand final in 6:20.48, more than four seconds faster than anybody in the field. Second-seeded Brown, which lost to Princeton by 2.5 seconds in the regular season opener, placed second in 6:24.61, while Dartmouth took third in 6:31.00.
The win is also a monumental one for Princeton University, as the victory gives Princeton its 15th Ivy League title for the 2010-11 academic year. No program has ever won more than 14 in any academic year.
There were a couple of similarities to the 2010 EAWRC Championships, which Princeton also entered as the top seed off an undefeated regular season. In that final, Princeton was one of two teams racing for first, while the third-place boat would finish more than 10 seconds off the pace.
Last year, Yale edged past the Tigers. This year, it was Princeton, then open water, then Brown.
“We learned lessons from last year that we still felt when we got here today,” Dauphiny said. “We know we couldn’t take anything for granted, and we know what it takes now to succeed. Every captain recently has put an emphasis on everybody in the program being important, and that we all need to perform. I think you saw the results of that today.”
It was a dominant day on Cooper River for Princeton, which now has some gold to go along with a 27-race regular season win streak. With the V8, 2V8 and V4 sweep, Princeton also establishes itself as a major threat for the NCAA Championships, which take place in two weeks in Sacramento, Calif.
But that championship can wait, as Princeton will surely savor its 2011 title. Since the turn of the century, Princeton has won titles in both 2004 and 2006, but it has also dealt with a couple of heartbreakers. This team, a nice balance of both experience and youth, turned on the heat in its grand final to make sure that it wouldn’t have to sweat out Sunday’s title.
“It was a pretty fierce start for everybody, but we asserted ourselves early and had a sizable lead after 500,” Dauphiny said. “We were able to maintain our speed, hold off moves and never give up the lead. They did an exceptional job today.”
The second varsity eight continued its perfect 2011 season with a victory in the EAWRC grand final. After a win over Dartmouth in its semifinal heat, Princeton topped both Yale and Brown by more than three seconds apiece to win the gold medal. The Tigers finished in 6:36.37, while Yale (6:39.58) held off Brown for second place.
The Tiger 2V has now beaten every opponent this season, from its 13 regular season rivals to each boat in either Sunday’s semifinal or final, by at least three seconds. It will be one of the most formidable boats in the NCAA Championship regatta.
The varsity four was the only of the trio of NCAA Championship boats (V8, 2V8, V4) to lose at least once during the regular season, but that boat showed it knew just when to peak. Following a dominant win in its semifinal heat, Princeton won the gold medal with a time of 7:18.50, more than 3.5 seconds faster than both top-seeded and Yale, the last Eastern program to defeat Princeton.
The Princeton varsity four had gone 9-4 on the season, although only two of its losses came to Eastern rivals. One was to Yale, which took third in 7:22.03; the other was Cornell, which fell to Princeton by more than five seconds. The Princeton varsity four will be one of the most important pieces as the Tigers look for their first NCAA team title in two weeks in Sacramento.
The third varsity avenged its only loss of the season in grand fashion, topping Brown by more than seven seconds to win its grand final in 6:33.62. Princeton had gone 8-1 on the season, with its only loss coming in the opening weekend against the Bears. After topping Northeastern by nearly 12 seconds to win its semifinal heat, Princeton overcame that loss to Brown with an open-water victory in the mid-afternoon grand final.
“I really have to give a lot of credit to the rest of our league and the job they’ve done both today and all season,” Dauphiny said. “Look at what Brown did, what Yale did. Look at what teams like Dartmouth and Radcliffe did. There was fierce racing out there today at every level. We were able to achieve this kind of success because the rest of the league pushed us so hard.”
The varsity four B barely missed reaching its own grand final, falling to third-place Boston University by .66 of a second in the second semifinal heat. Princeton bounced back nicely, winning its petite final by 19 seconds over George Washington with a time of 8:02.04.