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Irish head to final tuneup before ACCs

| Friday, April 24, 2015

After winning Group B at the Lake Natoma Invitational two weeks ago, Notre Dame returns to the water as it travels to Lake Lemon in Bloomington, Indiana, to compete in the Dale England Cup this weekend.

In a dual-racing, round-robin tournament, the Irish will face host No. 11 Indiana this evening, followed by No. 12 Texas and Columbia on Saturday. The competition is the last event of the regular season for the Irish, with the ACC championship to follow next month.

Indiana and Texas both picked up race wins at the Clemson Invitational last week, and Irish head coach Martin Stone said facing teams with strong recent performances, as well as a Columbia team that has experience against difficult opponents, will make the meet a challenge.

“They’re all very good,” Stone said. “Indiana and Texas are ranked 11th and 12th in the country, I think, and had some very good results last week down at the Clemson invite. They’re showing a lot of speed, so I think they’re very good.

“Columbia’s always a pretty strong program out of the Ivies, they come from a really strong rowing conference, so I think that they’ll be a great opponent too.”

However, despite their opponents’ success, Stone said he believes his rowers’ performances against even higher-ranked opposition earlier in the year should give them hope of success this weekend.

“We’ve had a pretty brutal race schedule,” Stone said. “Every weekend we’ve raced somebody that’s currently in the top 10, and a couple in the top five, so I think we’re ready for this one, we understand what that kind of speed looks like. I think we’ve made progress in our last race in California, so we’re excited.

“Each person needs to do her job and play her role for her team to the best of her ability. Not to try to row to anyone else’s ability, just to row her best and I think if we do that we should be fine.”

The Irish found some success the last time they took part in a dual-racing meet, winning six races in total against No. 1 Ohio State and Michigan State at the Big Ten/ACC Double Dual Meet on March 28 in Columbus, Ohio. Stone said the format provides the opportunity to make adjustments and this can help his team.

“I really like the format,” Stone said. “The dual format allows us to get multiple races in, do some stuff, learn and make changes. If it was just a one-shot field with four teams, we’d get one race and then we don’t get an opportunity to assess and evaluate until the ACCs. The three-race format allows us to make some adjustments between races.

“It also follows very closely to the ACC format, with a Friday night race and a Saturday morning final, and it also follows the NCAA format, where you race multiple times over the weekend.”

The Irish will begin the Dale England Cup against Indiana on Lake Lemon in Bloomington at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon. They take to the water again Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. when they take on Texas.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

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