When immense excitement and anticipation combine with the pressure of competition, strange events tend to transpire. Such was the case on a windy Lake Carnegie this past Saturday as the women's open crew team (0-1) fell to Brown in the opening race of Princeton's spring season.
Looking to make a strong start against its archrival and to take home a key Ivy League victory, the Tigers' first varsity eight was bested by the Bears, six minutes, 16.3 seconds to 6:23.0.
"It was not one of our greater performances," head coach Lori Dauphiny said. "We are definitely capable of better."
Coupled with the defeat of Princeton's first varsity eight, the second varsity boat also suffered a loss – one of nearly four seconds – at the hands of Brown.
From start to finish, the Bears displayed superior speed on the water, living up to their No. 2 ranking by the United States Rowing Association.
"Brown is definitely one of the fastest crews in the country," Dauphiny said. "It's usually hard to make such a judgement so early in the season, but judging from this performance, they look difficult to beat."
Dauphiny looks to counter Saturday's disappointing performance with increased speed training and a small bit of experimentation.
"We really need to come up with a lineup that provides a solid combination of power and aggressiveness," Dauphiny said.
The heavyweight Tigers hope to display this newfound strength against Cornell and Harvard April 11 in Ithaca, N.Y.
On the same morning that the open crew fell to Brown, the Tigers' lightweight squad (0-1) looked to perform competitively in its first-ever regatta against Villanova in Philadelphia.
The lightweight varsity eight succumbed, however, to the Wildcats, 7:11.4 to 7:16.4. Despite this disappointing loss, the novice eight still captured a dominating 40-second victory.
With the opening race complete, the lightweights hope to use the performance as a building block for the remainder of the season, especially when the team travels to San Diego on April 4 and 5 for the San Diego Crew Classic.
The lightweight rowers expect improvement in a season where both Ivy League and NCAA crowns seem within reach.
Much the same can be said for the heavyweight squad that contends perennially for the national championship. But first it has to get over the loss to Brown and prepare for the rest of the season.
"Losing is difficult when you don't expect to lose," said Dauphiny.
No other words can be closer to the truth.