While the Elis valiantly dueled against Princeton’s Tigers for this year’s Eisenberg Cup on the Housatonic River, triumphing in three out of the five races, they lost the race that mattered most.

Yale’s varsity eight boat fell to Princeton’s varsity eight, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, by just over four seconds. The boat’s loss comes after its close call last weekend against Boston University on the Charles River, where the Elis won the race by less than a second.

However, the novice boats split and the Bulldogs’s second and third varsity boats topped their Princeton counterparts. The top novice eight bested the Tigers by over six seconds while the second novice four came up short to the Tigers.

Varsity eight rower Charlotte Taft ’05 knew the team wanted to come out strong after last weekend’s outing versus the Terriers.

“Coming out of the previous week we were looking to row a really composed and aggressive race,” Taft said.

Despite being unable to come away with the triumph in the varsity eight race, the team believes it is still improving.

“[The race] was very much a learning experience,” team captain Dinah Dimalanta ’05 said.

Against the Tigers, the varsity eight took the next step towards faster rowing. Despite the improvement, Princeton’s team proved too formidable a challenge to overcome.

Joanna Hess ’06, a member of the varsity boat, was dispirited about the result but optimistic about the team’s future.

“We are disappointed with the result but it is a good step in the right direction,” Hess said.

Other boats showed improvement as well. The second and third varsity crews made solid showings, besting their opponents by two, and just over 12 seconds, respectively.

“The second varsity boat really raced up to their ability and are learning quickly how fast they can be,” Taft said.

In addition, Yale’s rookies performed admirably, providing a glimpse into a promising future. Despite a loss at the top level, the freshman eight won the Novice Eisenberg Cup for the first time since 2002.

“The freshmen had a great race and have definitely been going through their ups and downs,” Dimalanta said. “But they definitely found something and some boat speed this weekend.”

The captain also noted that the freshmen have experimented with many different lineups trying to maximize boat speed, and the first-year rowers seem to be improving.

Taft echoed those sentiments.

“The freshmen are really coming together as a group and racing like mature athletes,” she said.

The Elis will now have to gather momentum for their April 23 race against Radcliffe, one of the top teams in the nation.

Dimaltana believes that the team is more than up to the challenge.

“I think everybody is very excited. Radcliffe, like Princeton, is a great team,” Dimaltana said. “I think that the varsity will be more prepared and have a better race than they did last weekend.”