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Black and White Grabs First Place

Radcliffe notches first win over Yale in nearly a decade

The Radcliffe heavyweight first varsity eight defeated Yale over the weekend for the first time since 2003.
The Radcliffe heavyweight first varsity eight defeated Yale over the weekend for the first time since 2003.
By Cayla C. Calderwood, Contributing Writer

Despite rough conditions on the Charles River, Radcliffe’s heavyweight first varsity eight (7-4) toppled Yale (6-3) for the first time since 2003 on Saturday.

The victory over the defending NCAA champions came at a crucial moment in the season, as the team heads to the EAWRC Sprints in less than a month.

“We went out with the mindset of racing our own race [and] not focusing what was going on around us, whether it was the weather or the other team,” said junior five seat Liz Soutter. “Instead, we focused on making our boat go fast no matter what.”

As usual, the Ivy League is fielding some of the fastest boats in the country with four schools sitting in the top ten in CRCA/USRowing Coaches’ Poll: No. 1 Princeton, No. 6 Brown, No. 8 Yale, and No. 10 Cornell. The Black and White, currently ranked 16th, missed out on the NCAA championships last year, but this year could be a different story.

“This win has definitely given us a huge confidence boost,” Soutter said.  “Yale is one of our toughest competitors and edging them out has helped us bring the NCAA into our sight more clearly … and that’s been our goal for this entire year.”

Radcliffe trailed the Bulldogs early until a late push shot the Black and White ahead to defeat Yale by three seconds and six seats.

“We got down in the first 500 … but coming into the 1000-meter mark we all knew what we had to do,” said co-captain and stroke Liv Coffey. “And we knew that Yale couldn’t hold us back. Going into the second half of the third 500, we made a press and came even with them, … and at that point, I think, Yale just cracked.”

“There was no specific move that helped us move through Yale,” Soutter added. “But every move and stroke was powerful, so that during the second half of the race we were consistently moving through them. Yale wasn’t really moving consistently. They were just pushing a little for 10 strokes and then holding while we just got faster throughout the entire race, and we were able to shake them through the finish.”

On Saturday, the boat was composed of junior coxswain Jill Carlson, Coffey at stroke, sophomore Shelley Pearson in the seven seat, freshman Katie Wilcox in six, Soutter in five, sophomore Celia Kohl in four, sophomore Scout Moran in three, sophomore Mary Maginnis in two, and junior Christina McClintock, who is also a Crimson sports editor, in bow.

“Rowing’s a thing where you’re only as good as your collective speed,” Coffey said. “You can’t really pick one person out and say, ‘Oh you definitely pulled harder than everybody else.’”

The boat has been rowing together all spring and has come together both on and off the water.

“If you have a strong group, it just means you’re going to be successful,” Coffey said. “Our boat is filled with really competitive, really successful girls who have raced at all different levels. I go into a race completely confident that they know what’s going to go on and that they can react to basically any situation.”

This group mentality has helped the Black and White both in competition on the water and in long conditioning sessions.

“I think that everyone on the team has a lot of respect for each other,” Coffey said. “Everyone’s been willing to work very hard.”

The rowers’ respect for each other has made itself evident in the group’s attitude towards competition as well.

“The theme for our boat this whole season has been to be fearless no matter what,” Soutter said. “We’ve had some pretty scary racing conditions and gone up against some really tough crews, but we’ve never gone into a race feeling daunted. We always go in laying everything out on the line, and we never hold back. If you put your best into every single stroke, you’re never going to regret your race when you finish.”

The team’s audacity on the water is accentuated by the fact that it fields a young squad.

“Our team is very young, so I knew that our season would get off to a slow start,” Coffey said. “But we’re getting faster, like you usually do over the course of a season, but even more so this year. As the younger girls are getting more experienced, we’re going to get a lot of speed going into those championship races.”

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