PENNSAUKEN, N.J. -- This time, the Columbia women's crew was really up against it.
    
Beset by illness and exams on campus, the Lions would have to battle a strong headwind roiling the waters of the Cooper River … and the Bears of Brown University. After suffering their first varsity eights loss ever to Columbia last week, in the Dunn Bowl on Brown's home course, you knew the Bears had to have spent all week thinking about revenge.
    
"We knew Brown would want revenge for their loss," head women's coach Scott Ramsey said. "And we knew it would be difficult to fight headwinds all day. We had laid out race plans for all our races, but our rowers would have to follow them."
    
Could the Lions do that, in spite of all those obstacles?
    
Absolutely, a beaming Ramsey said. "[Our crews] executed their race plans as we laid them out. We're really, really proud of them."
    
Much of the regatta's focus was on the first varsity eights race, specifically the confrontation between the Bears and the Lions after Columbia had surprised Brown a week earlier, by just 0.9  seconds.
    
The opening heat, moreover, deeply troubled Columbia's coaches.
    
"We rowed a sloppy heat," Ramsey said. "We were not quick off the line, and had no base rhythm." So the Lions regrouped. "We learned from that heat," he said. "We made the necessary adjustments."
    
As they lined up for the Grand Final, Columbia faced a tough test -- a strong headwind and an equally strong field, including not only Brown, but also Navy, Northeastern, Boston U., and Buffalo.
      
"We had an excellent start," Ramsey said, but so did all the others. "After the first few strokes, it was an unbroken line -- all six even with each other."
    
They remained in a line for just a few meters. Soon it was a two-team race, Columbia and Brown, the others left behind.
    
The Lions went aggressively for the lead. After 500 meters, they had it, though only a two-seat margin. The second 500 was still close, but Columbia opened a larger lead.
    
"We made a move near the 1000-meter mark," Ramsey said, "and another move in the third 500. That enabled us to take command of the race."
    
Columbia built on that lead. Their powerful strokes and smooth flow, despite the wind, bore fruit in the final 500 meters, as they established open water between the two eights. And mindful of how Brown had cut into the Lions' lead in the closing seconds in the Dunn Bowl race, Columbia never let up, crossing the finish line in 7:03.168, a full length better than Brown's 7:07.171, with Boston U. third in 7:14.370.
    
The Lions earned three silver medals for second places, in each case behind only Brown. The second varsity, first varsity four and second varsity four all crossed the line trailing only the Bears.
    
"The second varsity eight and the A four each reduced their margin from last week's rowing," the coach noted. "The four did a really great job. They reduced their margin against Brown from 17 seconds last week to five this week.
    
"We're really excited about the momentum we have built up going into the Ivy Championships May 19." To hold on to that momentum, Ramsey and his staff have carefully formulated a detailed practice schedule, despite the onslaught of final exams.
    
"We want every practice to be a little masterpiece."

The results:

EAWRC Sprints Regatta
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Cooper River, Pennsauken, N.J.

Note: only events in which Columbia participated are listed

Varsity Eights - Grand Final
1. Columbia, 7:03.168
2. Brown, 7:07.171
3. Boston U., 7:14.370
4. Navy, 7:17.242
5. Northeastern, 7:18.181
6. Buffalo, 7:49.583

Second Varsity Eights - Grand Final
1. Brown, 7:22.914
2. Columbia, 7:35.279
3. Boston U., 7:43.636
4. Navy, 7:53.520
5. Northeastern, 7:57.495
6. Boston C., 8:07.357

Women's Varsity Fours, A - Grand Final
1. Brown, 8:02.208
2. Columbia, 8:07.708
3. Northeastern, 8:24.521
4. Boston U., 8:34.796
5. Boston C., 8:40.804
6. Navy, 8:50.871

Women's Varsity Fours, B - Grand Final
1. Brown, 8:12.340
2. Columbia, 8:35.715
3. Navy, 8:38.860
4. Northeastern, 8:42.096
5. Massachusetts, 8:53.270
6. Boston C., 8:56.670

Today's Columbia Boatings:

Varsity Eight
Aneesha Baliga, cox; Rebecca Randall, stroke; Fiona Duffy, 7; Samantha Warren, 6; Amelia Brunner, 5; Karli McMenamin, 4; Jocelyn Bohn, 3; Nikki Bourassa, 2; Lottie Galliano, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Clare Hua, cox; Jessica Werlin, stroke; Hilary Going, 7; Madeline O'Brien, 6; Sylvie Krekow, 5; India Knight, 4; Kellie Solowski, 3; Alexandra Swift, 2; Hayley Weil, bow

Varsity Four, A
Jill Klein, cox; Colleen Condon, stroke; Lily Keane, 3; Caitlin Shufelt, 2; Elisa Mirkil, bow

Varsity Four, B
Audrey Warren, cox; Natalie Rutherford, stroke; Carly Tashjian, 3; Maia Claman, 2; Sara Hyten, bow