For the third consecutive week, No. 17 women’s crew tested itself against two nationally ranked teams. On Saturday, the Bulldogs took on No. 5 Princeton and No. 7 Souther California on Lake Carnegie in Princeton, N.J.

Though the Elis fell in four out of five races, head coach Will Porter said he saw overall improvement in the team this weekend.

“I thought we took a step forward as a group,” Porter said. “Our schedule has to be one of the toughest in the country, which means winning races is difficult, but we do seem to be gaining speed at the right time.”

USC’s No. 1 ranked varsity eight won the marquee event by cruising past both Princeton and Yale. The Trojans gained an advantage off the start and did not relinquish it for the remainder of the race. USC crossed the line at 6:24.6, while Princeton took second with a time of 6:27.0. The Bulldogs clocked in at 6:30.2 for a third place finish. By placing ahead of the Elis, Princeton captured the Eisenberg Cup for the third consecutive year.

“There were times when we were matching their speed or even closing in on [USC and Princeton],” Porter said. “Ultimately, they ended up pushing out at the end.”

The Trojans also secured a victory in the second varsity eight race, though by a significantly smaller margin. USC narrowly beat Princeton by 0.3 seconds to clinch first-place with a time of 6:40.3. The Elis clocked in at 6:44.7 to take third.

Captain Kathleen O’Keefe ’12, who rowed with the second varsity eight, said that the race was interrupted due to a breakage in the Princeton boat and had to be restarted after a long wait on the water.

“I think we handled the challenge well, and put together a solid piece,” O’Keefe said.

In the third varsity eight race, the Tigers bested the Elis by more than 19 seconds to earn the win.

Yale’s strongest showings from the weekend came from its fours. The Bulldogs’ second varsity four gave the team its lone win by crushing Princeton by nearly 20 seconds. The Elis crossed the line at 7:38.2, while the Tigers finished in 7:59.5.

The Bulldogs’ varsity four also performed well and secured a second-place finish. Princeton captured the race by crossing the line at 7:26.5. Yale took second by clocking in at 7:28.8, finishing two seconds ahead of USC.

“I thought our [varsity] four raced a very composed race,” Porter said. “The second varsity was very gutsy. [They] rowed very hard.”

The Bulldogs return to action when they race archival Radcliffe for the Case Cup this Saturday at home.