The team's time of 16:59.12 would have placed Radcliffe fourth, ahead of the University of Michigan by 39 hundredths of a second.
"We felt we really rowed a good race," Malliaris said. "We were really psyched heading in and improved tremendously over last year."
The team placed a disappointing 17th last year, but improved 44 seconds this time around to finish within 15 seconds of the German National team.
"The most frustarating thing about the penalty is that it didn't make us at all faster," Malliaris said. "If anything it slowed us down when one of our oars hit the buoy."
Despite the disappointment, the team was happy with its performance and content in the fact that it proved to itself how good it could be.
"This was a fabulous race," Malliaris said. "It showed that the boat was fast, and hopefully we'll have a good season. Our coxswain was just great. The turn at the Weeks Footbridge is really hard and she nailed it for us."
Both lightweight teams also turned in excellent performances and improved over last year.
The men's lightweight crew rebounded from the one-minute penalty it suffered last year to finish sixth in a time of 15:58.50.
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