Still a perfect season

The Panthers continued their perfect season on the road over the weekend.

Eastern traveled north to take on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in their first true road test of the season. The battle of the two Panthers remained close until the second half when the team began to separate themselves.

The game was physical and full of potentially changing moments. The first half was a low scoring affair that left the game up for grabs at the break.

“I don’t know if we just assumed we were going to walk out on the field and play well, but for the first 20 minutes of the game we had no passion at all,” head coach Frank Graziano said. “I don’t have an explanation for our first half, but we warmed up with enthusiasm and had excitement, but we did nothing at all in the first half.”

Eastern led University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 10-7 after the first 40 minutes of play, the second lowest scoring output in the first half this season.

Coming out of the half-time break, the Panthers tallied an early try and led Eastern by a score of 15-7. The eight-point deficit was the most the Panthers have trailed by in the second half this season.

Senior captain Narissa Ramirez in the second half energized the Panthers. Ramirez’s play was the turning point, and she was able to get her teammates involved in the game.

“To be honest, I’m not really sure if it was something I said or if it was leading by example,” she said. “I motivated my team to play the kind of rugby we know how to play. The light bulb turned on and we pulled out the win.”

Eastern rallied off 36 consecutive points to take control of the game and walk away with their second road win of the season.

“I think we grew up a little bit today,” Graziano said. “The freshmen started to realize that if they do the basics and make the little passes and run the plays, good things will come from it.”

“It was nice to see us rally when we were down and it speaks to our maturity as a squad,” he said.

Freshman center Nia Williams talked about pulling the team together for the second half.


“When we went back on the field for the second half we were all at the right place at the right time,” she said. “We were starting to work a little harder, and we were doing the little things to get the win.”

Williams also said it boosted overall team morale.

“I think that we proved to ourselves that we have the ability to win every game. We are a great rugby team and I feel that this win is a turning point for the freshman,” Williams said. “I felt that we fit in with the veterans and now we are understanding the game and where we need to be.”

The Panthers are 5-0 for the third time in the last four seasons. In each of the previous two seasons where the Panthers started 5-0, they ran the table and recorded an undefeated season.

The Panthers are scheduled to travel to Hamden, Conn., for next weekend’s NCAA Division-1 battle against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The Panthers got the best of the Bobcats in their Sept. 18 match-up at Lakeside Field where he Panthers won 24-0. The rematch is scheduled for Oct. 15, and kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

Jordan Pottorff can be reached at 581-7942 or  [email protected]