DERBY, Conn. -- It was a dream match-up in the world of collegiate rowing, but Yale's dream had the best outcome, as the Bulldogs edged Columbia for the Dodge Cup on the Housatonic, with Penn finishing third.
    
The varsity eights race matched Yale, top-ranked in the most recent national coaches poll, with a Columbia boat that had moved up to second in the poll following its win over Princeton and Navy last week.
    
And it was just that close between the Bulldogs and Lions as the first varsity race began, the pair easily pulling away from Penn.
    
The Housatonic River course includes some tough turns, and the home crew took advantage of them to pull into the lead.
    
"Yale handled the turns well," head coach Nich Lee Parker recalled. "We made up a little ground coming out of the turns."
    
Despite the Lion effort, Yale opened up a lead, but when it widened to open water, "we closed that up," Parker said. Columbia gained even more ground in the closing sprint, but could not catch the Bulldogs, who won in 5:34.99, to Columbia's 5:37.13, with Penn eight seconds back in 5:45.40.
    
"We'll be able to make up ground [in future races]," Parker said. "We were just missing some sharpness and quickness."
    
The second varsity race was even closer, with Columbia overtaking Yale well into the contest, only to relinquish the lead with just 250 or 300 meters to go. "We were never more than two seats behind," said Parker, as Yale finished first by just one second, 5:43.7 to 5:44.7.
    
The second varsity had modified many of what Parker called "its elements" from last week's racing. "They need to work on execution to find more speed," he noted.
    
Columbia had another good start in the third varsity eights race, going wire-to-wire for the easy victory. Even though they struggled in the turns, the Lions finished well ahead of Yale.
      
"In each of the races," the coach noted, "we narrowed the gaps a lot from our races with Yale and Penn in 2013. That's really important. We are very happy that we did that."
    
Columbia returns to Overpeck Park next weekend, meeting Cornell and MIT in the Geiger Cup Saturday and Dartmouth in the Subin Cup regatta Sunday.
    
The results:

The Dodge Cup
(Columbia, Yale, Penn)
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Housatonic River, Derby, Conn.

Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 5:34.99
2. COLUMBIA, 5:37.13
3. Penn, 5:45.40

Second Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 5:43.7
2. COLUMBIA, 5:44.7
3. Penn, 6:23.2

Third Varsity Eights
1. COLUMBIA, 5:55.7
2. Yale, 6:06.9

Today's Columbia Boatings

Varsity Eight
Erica Cunningham, cox; Griffin Whitlock, stroke; Petros Krommidas, 7; Fredrik Aasaaren, 6; Jacob Buczek, 5; Matt Bellesheim, 4; David Mottola, 3; Connor Dougherty, 2; James Winford, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Yih-Jen Ku, cox; Anders Smedsrud, stroke; Ben Blair, 7; Colin Ross, 6; Max Fenner, 5; Oliver Gruterich, 4; Lane Brokaw, 3; Oliver Ingram, 2; Steven Boyle, bow
 
Third Varsity Eight
Darius Grayer, bow; A. Bartholomew, stroke; Bryan Ptucha, 7; Chris Hatzis, 6; Daniel Puttman, 5; John Hold, 4; Brian McGrattan, 3; Noah Rivkin, 2; Conor Murphy, bow