One week after dropping its first race of the season in the Class of 1975 Cup regatta to Ivy champion Harvard, Princeton will head to New Haven this weekend to take on Yale in a showdown of top Ivy League contenders.
Princeton leads the all-time Eisenberg Cup series 27-11, but the two programs have split the last six meetings. The Tigers have gotten the better of late with three straight wins, but Yale has bounced back nicely after a season-opening loss to Columbia. Regardless of previous records, Princeton is well aware that any race against the Bulldogs will be a 2000-meter battle.
“We have a relatively short regular season with only six weekends of racing, so a lot hinges on every race,” junior Kathryn Irwin said. “We hope to come out of this weekend with confidence to put us in the strongest position possible going into Ivy Champs. That being said, we are expecting a challenging race against Yale on their home course.”
Yale has won two of its last three Eisenberg Cup races on the Housatonic, though Princeton’s 2011 NCAA championship varsity eight did score a victory in its last trip. Even that was a battle, as the Tigers won that varsity showdown by less than three seconds.
A victory by any margin would be important for Princeton, which fell to Harvard by 2.2 seconds last weekend in Ithaca.
“Harvard raced a confident and aggressive race and came out on top last weekend,” Irwin said. “As with every weekend, we learned a lot from the race. We are excited to face them again in May at Ivy Champs.”
Ultimately, each weekend is a building block towards that Ivy League championship competition on May 19 at Cooper River, where an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships will be on the line. Princeton has won the team competition in each of the last two years, including at the inaugural Ivy Sprints last season, but the Crimson knocked off the Tigers in the V8 final to win the Ivy League title.
Considering that Princeton has beaten Brown, Brown has beaten Harvard and Harvard has beaten Princeton — and that only makes up the first three weeks of the season — there is plenty of reason to expect a wild finish May 19.
“The last few weeks have shown us that there are very strong teams throughout the Ivy League with no clear front runner,” Irwin said. “We have learned in past years that teams improve tremendously throughout the regular season so we cannot take any competitor for granted. I expect that every team will show up gunning for a league championship and an automatic qualification for NCAAs. I have no doubt that May will bring tight racing and fierce competition.”
Of course, fierce competition happens in April as well, and Prince-ton will undoubtedly see it this weekend. Racing is scheduled to begin at 8:20 am with the varsity four, and it will continue every 40 minutes. The Eisenberg Cup will be on the line in the varsity eight competition at 9:40 am.