The St. Albans crew team lowered its boat into the water Saturday afternoon with confidence it could beat Gonzaga for the Foley Cup. For the first time in three years, the Bulldogs did just that.

“We really wanted it back,” St. Albans senior John Kim said. “The last time our program’s won it was my freshman year, and we really think it’s our year this year.”

It was an afternoon of celebration on the Anacostia River for St. Albans’s sister school as well. National Cathedral School also won, beating Georgetown Visitation for the Carr Cup.

While this crew season has been riddled with weather misfortune, St. Albans has had a particularly challenging time. It had completed just one local race heading into Saturday afternoon and not just because of the weather. Before the regatta at St. Andrew’s in Delaware, a car accident damaged the team’s boat, rendering it unable to compete.

The Bulldogs used that adversity as motivation.

“I would say the crash was probably one of the most important turning points of the season,” senior Andrew Teplitz said. “It focused us more.”

“We had some rough events and races the past couple of weeks,” senior Aris Togias said. “We knew they had counted us out, and we just used that to take us to the end.”

St. Albans and Gonzaga have been each other’s main competition in recent years as they’ve battled for Washington-area supremacy. With that competition also comes a mutual respect that St. Albans Coach Ted Haley takes pride in.

“I have a lot of respect for what they’re doing,” Haley said. “We have similar boys who strive for excellence.”

While the annual Foley Cup always feeds the rivalry between two of the top programs in the area, it has had additional implications as of late.

For the past three seasons, the team that has won the Foley Cup also has taken home the prestigious Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia, a history St. Albans would like to repeat.

“There is definitely a target on our backs,” Teplitz said, “but that doesn’t mean we’re going to let up at all.”

Heading into state championships next weekend and Stotesbury the week after that, St. Albans knows this isn’t the last it will see of Gonzaga on the water.

“[Gonzaga’s] not finished at all, and neither are we,” Togias said. “We’re going to be at each other’s throats, and we’re not going to ease up. We know they’re good, and we’re ready for them.”