Irish capture Dale England Cup
Brian Plamondon | Monday, April 28, 2014
No. 10 Notre Dame rebounded from up-and-down recent performances with convincing times en route to repeating as Dale England Cup champions on Lake Lemon in Bloomington, Ind., last weekend.
The Irish, who were in second place with 37 points after Friday’s races, finished the weekend with 117 points to best No. 13 Indiana (103 points). Rounding out the field were Rhode Island (80 points) and Alabama (60 points).
“[This weekend] was important to prepare us for the ACC championships, but also it puts us in a better position nationally for an at-large if we’re unable to win the ACC,” Irish coach Martin Stone said. “Indiana was very strong and had some great performances over the last two weeks. We felt that we definitely needed to beat them amongst the NCAA boats to boost our confidence and positioning.”
Notre Dame had to deal with tough conditions on its first day, as a strong tailwind resulted in unusually rough water. The Irish bounced back Saturday in better conditions, sweeping their morning session with Alabama and following up by winning four races against Rhode Island in the afternoon.
“We worked very hard on our race plan, and on Friday, conditions we raced in were a little different than we would have wanted,” Stone said. “But Saturday morning, we again had some plans and goals in mind and executed and rode it aggressively. We thought they could go a little faster after Saturday morning, and they raced very hard. After two weeks of hard racing, we were pretty wiped when we came into it. But we got it done.”
The Irish were especially dominant against Alabama, consistently besting the Crimson Tide by around 30 seconds. Notre Dame’s first varsity eight posted a time of 6:26.60 compared to Alabama’s 6:58.10, while its second varsity eight handled the Crimson Tide, 6:35.70-7:04.90. Notre Dame’s first varsity four took a 7:26.30-7:58.20 victory, while the novice eight/third varsity eight clocked in at 6:57.50 to best Alabama’s 7:29.30. In its final race against the Crimson Tide, the second varsity four, Notre Dame had three boats in the water. They were timed at 7:44.10, 7:47.20 and 8:10.40 while Alabama’s boat came in at 8:08.50.
“It was a complete team effort from every boat being supportive,” Stone said. “There were points where our team rallied around our boats and we could hear the ‘Here come the Irish’ chant. On and off the water, it was a championship effort.”
Stone also said the Friday-night-into-Saturday setup will benefit his team because that is the same format as the ACC championship, compared to typical Saturday-Sunday regattas this season. He said he is hoping this race is a solid precursor to the big races coming up.
“Indiana has a great race to row on — it gives us a good idea of how we want to race for the ACCs,” Stone said.
The Irish have some extended time off before they return to the water for their first-ever ACC championship May 16-17 on Lake Hartwell in Clemson, S.C.