The No. 11 women’s crew was not able to tame the No. 1 Princeton Tigers Saturday morning.

The top-ranked Princeton women’s crew, described by Yale head coach William Porter as “amazing” before the race, took four out of five races on the Housatonic. Yale’s first varsity boat finished three seconds behind Princeton, but eleven seconds ahead of No. 10 Ohio State. Yale rowers said they were disappointed by the loss, but proud to have stayed in the race until the end against the top ranked crew.

“We are beginning to mature through the experience of racing against fast opponents and rowing in the tough New England spring conditions,” Porter said, adding that he was pleased with the way Yale raced despite the crew’s loss.

This is the second time the Yale first varsity boat has lost this season. Yale’s first boat was edged out by Cornell two weeks ago, but soundly defeated Dartmouth and Boston University last weekend.

“I was expecting it to be line-to-line,” captain Caroline Nash ’11 said. She added that the second-place finish did not reflect the strength of the team’s performance.

Maddie Lips ’14 said she had been slightly nervous going into the race because of the hype surrounding the Princeton team. But, she added, the Elis had been rowing well in practice and were confident going into the weekend.

“I think Princeton expected to walk all over us, but we executed our race plan well and put a lot of pressure on them throughout the race,” Lips said. “Now we know we are in striking distance to be able to really challenge them next time we race them.”

This weekend was the first time that the second and third varsity boats had lost this season. Previously, the third varsity boat had been dominant, beating its last three opponents by at least ten seconds. On Saturday, they finished six seconds behind Princeton, but were not demoralized, said third varsity stroke Mary Barrosse-Antle ’11.

“Princeton got up on us off the start and took most of their lead in the first thousand meters,” Barrosse-Antle said. “We were thrown off our rhythm at the beginning of the race, but we started to find it again in the second thousand meters and from that point our margin off of Princeton remained relatively constant.”

According to Barrosse-Antle, the difference between the team’s loss this weekend and its victory the weekend before was its focus.

“We fell short this week because we allowed ourselves to be distracted by the weather, by the schedule change, by the competition,” Barrosse-Antle said. “There is nothing like the feeling of losing to ensure that we do not become distracted again.”

She added that when the boat rows with proper focus, it can achieve impressive speed.

Porter said that the team has been improving. He has said consistently that the most important thing is the end result, and that both wins and losses can increase team speed in the long run.

“I think continuing what we’ve been doing and getting more experience in our boat lineup will give us the confidence and finesse we need to compete at a high level and to take on highly ranked crews like Princeton,” Lips said.

Ohio State won the varsity four race, finishing two seconds ahead of Yale and 13 seconds ahead of Princeton.

Yale and Princeton have been rivals and top teams in the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges for several years. Last year, Princeton beat Yale for the Eisenberg Cup, but Yale beat Princeton in the Eastern Sprints at the end of the season. The year before, Yale took the Eisenberg Cup, the last time that the Princeton first varsity boat has lost a regular season race.

“I can’t wait to race Princeton again,” Barrosse-Antle said.

Correction: April 18, 2011

An earlier version of this article misattributed the quote “I think continuing what we’ve been doing and getting more experience in our boat lineup will give us the confidence and finesse we need to compete at a high level and to take on highly ranked crews like Princeton” to Head Coach William Porter. It should have been attributed to Maddie Lips ’14.