With one regatta left in the regular season, the Yale women’s crew team is coming on strong.

Bulldog women rowers will take to the waters of the Housatonic River in Derby one final time this year to battle Brown and Northeastern for the Nate and Ann Case Cup this weekend.

“It is going to be a fun day across the board, as both Brown and Northeastern are regional competitors and it is our last home race of the season,” Captain Melissa Merritt ’03 said. “It also gives us one final chance to practice the things we’ve been working on ‘live’ before we head to Eastern Sprints (conference championships) on May 18th.”

With the varsity eight’s narrow loss to Radcliffe last weekend, in Cambridge, Mass. — Radcliffe’s time of 6:24.6 just better than Yale’s 6:36.4 — Merritt knows that one of those “things” that can still use some extra work is building team speed.

“We rowed a little short and without that little bit of extra length we weren’t able to find the boat speed we know we’re capable of,” Jordan Pearce-Bristol ’03 said. “Team speed throughout the program is our biggest goal.”

However, that they were able to compete well against a top-ranked opponent, and fend off a powerful University of Virginia team gave the team hope for continued improvement this week and for peaking at the Eastern Sprints.

“The great thing about having a young team is that our learning curve is very steep and every race we have been closing the gap on the top teams,” Pearce-Bristol said. “We lost by 1.8 seconds, about three to four seats, to the No. 3 ranked team in the nation. Right now, we are definitely in a position to medal [at Eastern Sprints].”

Additionally, Yale’s novice eight and third varsity four boats secured victories — the latter racing at 6:45 am to avoid the impending rain and wind that was in the day’s forecast — in Cambridge, with times of 6:44.8 (to Virginia 6:50.2) and 7:23.9 (to Virginia 7:28.3), respectively, allowing the Bulldogs to demonstrate significant depth that will likely serve them well in the future. In addition to being H-Y-P champion, the third varsity four boat is now one race away from completing an undefeated season.

“I’m really proud of our team across the board and I think the ‘grace under pressure’ that we have shown bodes well for our upcoming races,” Merritt said.

If that is the case, a bid to the NCAA rowing championships may be within reach.