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WOMEN’S ROWING: Rowers will take on Ivy League teams in regatta

Kyle Cassily | Friday, April 22, 2005

Springtime along the Charles River in Boston – normally punctuated by cries from nearby Fenway Park – will be interrupted by the crews of Notre Dame, Harvard and Yale this weekend.

The Irish women’s crew team will travel to Massachusetts to face off in the regatta along the Charles before heading south to nearby Worcester for the Big East Championships. Both regattas will present the Irish women with some of their toughest competition of the season.

At the prestigious Ivy League schools of Harvard and Yale, rowing has been a tradition that was established decades prior to the formation of many other varsity crews. But history and past accolades do not scare Irish coach Martin Stone.

Stone and his team will cruise into New England expecting to emerge with victories over the Ivies and the best the Big East has to offer. His confidence in his team prevents any doubt of defeat to present itself.

“We are Notre Dame,” Stone said. “We are expecting to race the best. Just like our football team when it goes to face USC, we go to win no matter who we are playing.”

Currently, the unranked Irish varsity eight is fighting for its NCAA-eligible life. A victory over Harvard and Yale followed by a Big East Championship would place the Irish in a much stronger position in the committee’s eyes leading up to the Central Regionals.

This year is the first year that the Big East organization will host a true championship. The league first organized what it called a “Challenge” five years ago. Syracuse emerged victorious for the first three years that the Challenge was held, with the Irish finishing in second each time. But last year the Irish headed east to knock Syracuse off its pedestal and succeeded. The Big East Challenge victory was one of many wins that year that propelled the varsity eight into the NCAAs.

With the first Big East Championship looming, Syracuse is yet again the major threat to an Irish victory. The Orangemen are ranked 16th nationally and seek to garner their fourth Big East title in five years.

Stone feels with a victory over Syracuse, his varsity eight will be able to push its way back into the top-20 national rankings, yet another key step towards an NCAA bid. And it will all begin on Saturday if the Irish women can handle the storied Crimson on their home river.