DERBY, Conn. -- Just one week after their victorious start to the 2014 spring season in Florida, Columbia's women's rowers were thrown into the maelstrom that is top-flight Ivy League rowing Saturday, and were unable to emerge with a victory.
    
The Lions began the northern portion of their season with losses in three races in the Connell Cup regatta, including a varsity eights race with 7th-ranked Yale and Penn that cost Columbia a repeat of the Connell victory they had posted in 2013.
    
The losses did nothing to discourage head coach Scott Ramsey, nor his team members.
    
"This team is very positive and resilient," he said. "They're very supportive of each other. They're disappointed, but they know it's early in the season. They'll rebound and get better."
    
Although Columbia finished third in the feature race, it had nothing to be discouraged about halfway through the 2000-meter event. All three schools leapt off the starting line, taking advantage of unusually good conditions on the Housatonic River course.
    
For the first 500 meters, none would yield, and they went down the course in a virtual deadlock.
    
But Yale had begun to nose ahead, and then took the lead for good in the third 500, eventually winning by 7.4 seconds. Columbia stayed even with Penn for a while, but even after falling back by half a length, was well within overtaking distance of the Quakers.
    
Columbia pulled to within three seats with a little less than 500 meters to go, but was unable to maintain the margin, as Penn eased away, winning by two seconds, 6:19.4 to 6:21.3.
    
Yale put the second varsity race away quickly, exploding off the line to take a good lead and open it up in the middle 1000. Penn moved into second, and although Columbia was able to push back into the Quaker lead in the final 500, Penn was too far ahead.
    
The Lions fell behind Yale and Penn in the varsity fours race, but the two leaders had difficulty shaking their pursuers off.
    
That was a tribute, Ramsey explained, to Columbia's novice sophomore coxswain, Allison Lavine.
    
"Yale's course is probably the hardest we will row this spring," he said, "and it's a lot to ask of a novice coxswain  to steer on it. But Allison had a really good performance under a lot of pressure. We're looking forward to seeing her improve each week."
    
Ramsey will also look for improvement from his rowers.
    
"Yale and Penn are very strong, and deserve a lot of credit," he noted, "but we were very aggressive in all three of our races. We need to do a better job, especially in the body of the races."
    
They'll have that chance in a major test next Saturday, April 5, when the Lions travel to Princeton to face the Tigers and Virginia. The Cavaliers, the 2012 NCAA champions, are ranked third nationally this spring, and Princeton is ranked fifth.
    
Today's results:

The Connell Cup
Columbia, Yale, Penn
March 29, 2014
Housatonic River, Derby, Conn.

Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 6:12.0
2. Penn, 6:19.4
3. COLUMBIA, 6:21.3

Second Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 6:21.8
2. Penn, 6:31.4
3. COLUMBIA, 6:39.6

Varsity Fours A
1. Yale, 7:02.4
2 Penn, 7:17.7
3. COLUMBIA, 7:28.4

Today's Boatings in the Connell Cup

Varsity Eight
Aneesha Baliga, cox; Colleen Condon, stroke; Emerald Smith, 7; Karli McMenamin, 6; Jocelyn Bohn, 5; Madeline O'Brien, 4; Kellie Solowski, 3; Giovanna Crozier-Fitzgerald, 2; Lottie Galliano, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Erica Glaser, cox; Hayley Weil, stroke; India Knight, 7; Kaitlyn Loftus, 6; Sara Hyten, 5; Carly Tashjian, 4; Maggie DeVlieger, 3; Hilary Going, 2; Alexandra Swift, bow
 
Varsity Four
Allison Lavine, cox; Maia Claman, stroke; Emily Ball, 3; Kelsey Lynch, 2; Elena McGahey, bow